Trees in your yard are important for maintaining your property value, and for general curb appeal. However, mature trees and even some shrub roots can become a problem if they are near your sewer line. These roots are attracted to the sewer pipe that starts at your house and runs to the street or septic tank in the yard.

Your sewer pipe contains water, nutrients, and oxygen which are all crucial to the growth of a tree. In order to grow, your trees will seek out these elements. If the trees in your yard are anywhere near the sewer, the roots will grow toward it.

There have been many advances to pipe materials for sewer lines as time has passed. If your house is older, you may have clay or cast iron pipes to carry away waster. Pipes with these types of materials are more likely to crack or corrode over time, but even plastic can be damaged by excavation or seismic shifts.

If there is a crack opening made in a pipe, these openings become an access point for tree roots. Once plant roots enter the pipe, they grow quickly, expanding the hole and clogging the natural flow of waste to the main municipal sewer line. Over time, the sewer will clog and back up into your toilets and tubs.

Here’s how to prevent this issue, assuming you do not already have a root clog:

Find Your Sewer Line

Your home should have a cleanout in two locations: one outside the foundation wall and one within four yards of the street curb. Each cleanout has a cap on top that looks like circle with a square in the middle. If you can’t find them, search through the landscaping. If you find the caps, you can assume that the sewer pipe lays in a straight line between the two caps. If you can’t find them, call your local water department and have them mark where your pipes connect to the municipal sewer.

Find the Trees

After locating the line, determine if you have trees or bushes or hedges near this sewer line? Are the trees well established? Young trees and saplings are not generally a problem. Most of the time, trees are planted with care away from the foundation walls to avoid cracking the walls when they eventually mature and spread out. Although many trees are away from the house they are planted out on the front lawn where they can be viewed from the living room window, this often means they were placed near the sewer line.

Inspect the Sewer Line

If you’ve never had problems with your sewer, you might not think it’s necessary to have a professional sewer inspection. A lot of homeowners wait until they experience signs of trouble before they get an inspection. Such as:

  • More than one toilet backed up at the same time. It could be an internal clog or a root clog.
  • Sewer odors in the front yard. Cracks or leaks in the pipe can saturate the ground under the lawn, creating a stinky smell.
  • Sunken in areas of the lawn. Pipe breaks can erode the dirt alongside the pipe.

The problem with waiting for signs of trouble is that the situation becomes urgent and potentially more expensive. Our technicians at Benjamin Franklin Plumbing recommend a professional sewer line inspection if:

  • Your house was built more than 15 years ago and has not recently had an inspection.
  • Mature trees are close to your sewer line.
  • You think that your sewer line pipes are based on older material such as clay or iron.
  • Your neighbors have had trouble with their sewer lines.

Our team is experienced in sewer line inspections. We understand how and when trees become problems for pipes, and we have an extensive multi-point list we run through to isolate problems.

We will feed a video camera down your pipe to really see inside the line and inspect the integrity of the pipe walls. If there are roots breaking in or already established, we’ll find them. Taking care of a root issue at this point is much less expensive. Rather than dealing with an unexpected problem, you can keep the flow of your home working as it should be, by addressing the issue early.

Root Removal and Repair

If roots have been found in your pipe there are several solutions.

  • Run a power auger down through the roots, cutting them up and flushing them down into the main sewer.
  • Kill the roots with herbicides that cling to the breach to prevent new root growth in that area. Note that this doesn’t damage the tree. It only causes the spread of roots to reroute away from the pipe crack. This is a temporary solution but can last for several years. Many of us prefer to avoid the use of herbicides, for good reason, and this may not be the optimal solution for a root problem.
  • If the root damage is severe (breaches in several places) or there are collapsed sections, it may be necessary to replace the entire sewer line. The good news is that technology has evolved and a new “trenchless sewer line” can be run without digging up the yard. There are several ways to do this, but the end product really seals the line against the incursion of roots.
  • Remove or relocate the tree. While this is often unthinkable if the tree is well established and attractive, it may be that the tree has grown too large for its space and also threatens the foundation walls, hard landscape and/or roof. Removing the tree offers an opportunity to re-landscape and plant smaller trees in more strategic locations. Some homeowners have even used the lumber to create outdoor furniture or otherwise recycled the material. In most cases, it will be better to install a new trenchless sewer line.


(319) 365-6792
  • $100 OFF

    Water Heater Installation

    Save $100 on the installation of your choice of standard water heater.
    Offer Expires on 12/31/18

  • $200 OFF

    Tankless Water Heater

    Save $200 on the installation of your choice of tankless water heater.
    Offer Expires on 12/31/18

  • $99

    Drain Cleaning

    Get each drain inspected and flushed for just $99. Coupon is per drain.
    Offer expires on 12/31/18

  • 10% OFF

    Military Discount

    Active or retired military members save 10% on all products and services.
    Offer Expires on 12/31/18

Welcome to Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Iowa!

Do you need professional plumbing work performed quickly? Benjamin Franklin Plumbing is Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa’s favorite choice for quality plumbing work and prompt customer service. You have better ways to spend your time than stressing over plumbing tasks. Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa handles installations, renovations, and maintenance as well as repairs and emergency plumbing. Our experienced, licensed plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa do it all..

We Provide An Excellent Plumbing Service

The plumbers at Benjamin Franklin Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa have provided excellent quality plumbing to the Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa community since 1993. We are proud of Benjamin Franklin’s tradition of friendly customer service and are happy to be Cedar Rapid’s Better Business Bureau certified plumbing repair, maintenance, and installation choice.


    You will know the full price before we begin any repair or installation. What you agree to, is what you pay; we’ll never charge more at the end.

    Read More
  • True-Professionals

    True Professionals

    All of our employees are certified and continue to take education classes and seminars regularly to strengthen their knowledge of the field.

    Read More
  • Emergency Services


    If you’re experiencing an emergency plumbing problem that needs immediate attention, please contact us. We operate 24/7.

    Read More

Our Service Philosophy

Benjamin Franklin Plumbing are the best plumbers in Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa! We guarantee:

  • 100% straightforward pricing. We perform good work with no hidden fees. You’ll have a written estimate.
  • Expert work performed by experienced plumbing professionals. All work is performed in compliance with local codes. We back up our work with the best guarantees.
  • No plumbing messes left in your home. Our plumbers respect your home and clean up after themselves.
  • We won’t keep you waiting around. “If there’s any delay, it’s you we pay.®” We PAY YOU $5.00 per each minute late up to $300.00.

For quality professional plumbing services, call Benjamin Franklin Plumbing Cedar Rapids and Eastern Iowa today at (319) 365-6792 or request an appointment.

  • Our Guarantee

    We believe in 100% customer satisfaction. If you’re not satisfied in any way with our repair or service, please contact us immediately.

  • Always On Time

    At Benjamin Franklin Plumbing, we believe in promptness. Our motto is: “If there’s any delay, it’s you we pay!” And we mean it. If we show up late, you earn $5 for every minute we are late – up to $300. It’s as simple as that.

  • Ben Franklin DIFFERENCE

    We never leave a mess. Never. If our plumber doesn’t wear shoe covers, or if they leave your home without cleaning up the mess they made, call us and we’ll make it right.