As the owner of a business property, you are responsible for maintaining the systems within the property, including the sewer. When you repeatedly have to hire a plumber to unclog sewer lines in the building, it can be a sign of something more serious in the sewer main. Here is some information to help you determine the problem and some options to remedy the issue with your property's sewer main trouble.
Locate the Problem
When the sewer line inside your business building becomes clogged often, you will need to find out what is causing the repeated clogs. Repeated clogs in a sewer line can be caused by invasive tree roots or from the collapse of an aging sewer main. It is helpful to call a plumbing professional who can clear out the clog and run a camera down the sewer line to see what is causing the problem.
If the problem is invasive tree roots growing inside the sewer line, clearing out the line is only a temporary fix, as the roots will continue to grow and cause future clogs. If the sewer pipe is old and has collapsed, you will need to complete a visual inspection of the line to confirm this to have it replaced. For buildings that are more than 25 years old, experts recommend a video inspection of the sewer line, because clay sewer pipes were commonly used for sewer main installation before 1984 and can break down and collapse as they age.
If it is necessary to replace your business's sewer main, you can be financially liable for the cost when you are the owner of the building. As the property owner, you are traditionally responsible for repairs on your property's sewer line, extending out to its connection to the local city sewer line.
Check with your plumbing professional to see if they can use GPS on their inspection camera to track the location of any root invasion or sewer line collapse beneath the soil. Then, the plumbing professional can mark the surface of the ground with contractor's spray paint and help you when making repairs or treating any root growth.
Remedy Invasive Tree Roots
Use Copper Sulfate
When tree roots are growing through the pipe's connection seams and cracks into your buried sewer line, you don't have to remove the trees to stop the problem. You also don't need to remove or kill the tree to prevent the tree roots from invading and clogging your sewer main. Salt is sometimes used as a treatment to remove tree roots from around your sewer line. This will stop the root growth, but it will also dehydrate and kill the entire tree as the salt travels from its roots through its entire structure.
As a safer and better option, you can treat the soil around and inside the sewer pipe with copper sulfate. The copper sulfate kills the roots locally around the pipe, but is not absorbed into the rest of the tree to harm it.
Treat Inside and Outside the Pipe
To treat the inside of your sewer line pour one-half cup of copper sulfate crystals into one of the toilets on your property. Flush the toilet repeatedly until all the crystals are pulled into the sewer line, where they will remain and dissolve to prevent root growth. You can treat your pipes internally using this method, but with smaller amounts of copper sulfate several times each year.
It is also helpful to treat the soil outside of your sewer line. Find a location on your property along the location where the plumbing professional marked your buried sewer line and where tree roots have been determined to be a problem. Use a soil auger to dig a hole into the soil several feet deep above the sewer line, then insert a two-inch-wide PVC pipe into the hole so it protrudes from the surface of the soil. Pour copper sulfate crystals into the pipe, followed by boiling water. Repeat the process of adding boiling water until all the crystals are dissolved from the pipe and into the soil. This saturates the soil around the sewer pipe with copper sulfate creating a barrier that prevent damaging root growth.
Use this information to help determine why your business has repeated sewer clogs and your options for treatment and repair. Contact a commercial plumber for additional information and advice.