Identify plant based on roots pulled from drain ?

Asked May 7, 2019, 10:41 AM EDT

The drain system of our house's basement/foundation sometimes gets roots in it. Plumbers clean them out to help prevent drain problems, but cannot identify from which trees or bushes outside the house the roots are coming from. Who could do this type of identification ? Also, if I were to remove the tree/bush whose roots are in the drain, would the roots continue to grow ??

Oakland County Michigan

1 Response


A forester or certified arborist may be able to identify large roots that have bark attached to them. Otherwise I don’t think there is a way to ID them.

Find arborists by zipcode here-

The existing roots will stop growing if the source plant is killed, and the stump is ground or killed chemically, and the roots do not continue to send up “suckers”. You must keep mowing or cutting suckers down and eventually the old roots die, sometimes taking several seasons. Trees like sumac, tree-of-heaven, willow establish colonies or can continue to spread by suckers.

This is from Tennessee Extension-

“Species NOT recommended to plant near wastewater pipes would be the large, fast-growing, aggressive-rooted trees such as the Fraxinus (ash), Liquidambar (sweetgum), Populus (poplar and cottonwood), Quercus (oak, usually lowland varieties), Robinia (locust), Salix (willow), Tilia (basswood), Liriodendron (tuliptree) and Platanus (sycamore), as well as many Acer(maple) species (red, sugar, Norway and silver maples and box- elder). Generally, these trees are large when mature, with expansive root systems. For managed landscapes near sewer lines, trees can be replaced every eight to 10 years before they grow too big. “

Compare what you have near your sewer line with the trees above and you can suspect the ones that match. The tree roots typically extend well beyond the farthest reaching branch as the trees get older. However any trees within 10 feet are suspect.

Some references for you on trees and sewer lines-

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