The drain and waste pipes in your house all feed into a main sewer pipe that leads either to the municipal sewer or a septic tank. It is vital for this sewer pipe to remain clear so that waste flows away from the house without backing up and creating a potential health hazard. This isn't a hard goal to achieve if you're careful about what you flush down the toilet and pour down the drains. If your sewer pipes are cast iron or clay, though, tree roots can work through the joints and grow inside them.
Map out the path of the sewer pipe from your house, called the side sewer, to the main sewer or septic tank. Note whether there are any trees or bushes along its path. If there are, you should regularly treat the sewer with a solution to control the roots.
Drill a 2 1/2-inch diameter hole about 2 feet into the ground above the sewer line with an auger. Insert a 20-inch length, 1 1/2-inch PVC pipe into the hole and glue a threaded adapter onto one end so you can screw on a cap. The top of the cap should be 1 or 2 inches below ground level.
Fill the pipe halfway with copper sulfate crystals and pour in hot water. The water will dissolve the copper sulfate, which will seep into the ground around the sewer and discourage the growth of roots. Repeat every four months or so to stop roots from growing around the sewer.
Pour 2 pounds of copper sulfate crystals or an alternative down the toilet nearest the sewer about once a year. Because copper sulfate is poisonous to fish, not every community allows it in the waste lines. Safer alternative root-killing solutions are available at most hardware stores.
Treat the sewer pipes with an enzyme-based drain cleaner on a regular basis by pouring it down the toilet nearest the sewer. It will dissolve clogs resulting from the buildup of hair, grease and dirt safely without harming the environment.
Avoid pouring grease down any of your drains. It solidifies in the pipes and causes clogs. Similarly, avoid putting hair or solid objects down the drains or flushing them down the toilet. Don't flush anything that isn't biodegradable, such as tampons or diapers.
Clear the waste system periodically by filling all the tubs and sinks with water then opening all the drains at once while you flush all the toilets at the same time. The large flow of water will flush away any clogs that have begun to form in the drain lines before they have a chance to block the pipes.