Spring may feel far away, but many Calgarians are already thinking about their yard and garden. They know they want to get started as soon as it thaws, so they’re already forming plans for where they want to plant new trees and where they’re considering building a path. But before you get to deep into the designing stages, it’s a good idea to locate your sewer lines, so you can prevent plumbing problems before they begin.
Where Are My Sewer Lines?
If you have access to your home’s survey documents, it should be relatively easy to locate your sewer lines. Even if you struggle to decode the documents yourself, any landscaper or local plumber should be able to help you locate the sewer lateral — where your home’s plumbing system connects with the city’s. If you can’t find the survey documents, your municipality should be able to either supply the documents or help you find the lines. Alternatively Alberta One Call is a nonprofit that helps Albertans to locate underground utilities before they dig.
Protecting Sewer Lines.
All plants, but trees in particular, seem to be drawn to sewer lines. Perhaps their roots can innately sense the water and sewage (compost!) running through the plumbing. Regardless, trees have a tendency to grow towards your sewer lines. This wouldn’t be a problem if sewer lines were invincible, but both the movement of soil and Alberta’s freeze-thaw cycle leads to tiny cracks in the lines. The roots penetrate these cracks and slowly grow. It may take years, but the roots can determinately work their way through iron, concrete, plastic, and other sewer line materials on their quest for water. Once the roots have broken in, they gorge themselves on water and sewage growing larger and larger, until they inevitably block the entire pipe stopping the flow of water and causing your toilet or shower to back up.
Trees are beautiful, but nobody wants to deal with clearing dense root clumps from their plumbing. Ideally, you should carefully choose just one or two trees and plant them far from sewer lines. Tall and slim trees or smaller trees (such as crab apples) are often good choices. In general, you’ll want to avoid planting poplars, aspens, willows, and silver maples near your foundation or sewer lines. Instead, choose from some of the City of Calgary’s recommended trees and shrubs.
When it comes to your plumbing and preventing emergencies, we always recommend planning ahead. Choose your trees carefully and consider your foundation and underground utilities when you plant them. Feeling extra prudent? A local plumbing expert can help you install root barriers around your sewer lines. Deflectors and root traps physically prevent roots from getting to your pipes, while growth inhibitors (chemicals that discourage further root growth but don’t otherwise harm your trees) can offer a good alternative when adding physical barriers are too challenging.
Ready to start landscaping? Your friendly local plumbers at the Plumbing Paramedics are here to make sure your designs are sewer-safe! Give us a call today.