Tree roots get into sewers when a sewer pipe develops a crack or other damage and nutrients and moisture leak into the soil, attracting the roots. About 50% of all sewer backups and overflows in the City are caused by tree roots. Not only do sewer lines on private property get clogged, but the roots can grow into the City’s sewers causing spills from those pipes as well.
Root penetration can be remedied by repairing the faulty sewer pipe and ridding the pipe of roots. The maintenance of private sewers is the responsibility of private property owners. The City will repair and clean out public sewer lines. Long established City policy, based on the opinion of the City Attorney, assigns responsibility for the construction, maintenance, and repair of house connection sewer lines to the property owner.
Lateral sewers with roots and root-related spills occur throughout Los Angeles. Home and business owners located in the areas where the yellow and red map colors are most concentrated should be particularly aware of potential root problems.