Getting Rid of Roots in a Sewer Line

Roots growing into your sewer line can cause a lot of problems including backed-up plumbing. This is a guide about getting rid of roots in a sewer line.

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July 6, 2015 Flag
0 found this helpful

I live in a very old little cottage house and the plumbing has become an issue because of the huge tree in the back yard, probably about 100 years old.

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We would like to change from Charmin to a toilet paper that biodegrades quickly. Which toilet paper breaks down the fastest? And would using something like RidX help with a traditional sewer system?

Thank you!

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    July 7, 20150 found this helpful

    I'm not sure the RidX would work on tree roots in sewage lines in either septic or city/county sewer lines. I swore by it for keeping the enzyme balance right in my US septic tanks but never for tree roots in the lines.

    Re the toilet paper, I left the US five years ago but I'm sure this old standard is still being sold: Scott single ply toilet tissue. It breaks up very quickly but is strong enough to be of actual use. My personal fav in the US was the Dollar General toilet paper - not as strong as the Scott tissue but broke up almost as fast as it hit the bowl water!

    Really, the only real solution is to have Rotor Rooter (are they still in business?) or a similar company out to ream the lines. I had it done in the late 90s for around $350 and I'm sure the cost has only gone higher since then.

    FYI - just having the tree removed WON'T solve your problem, you will still need to have the sewer lines reamed. If you decide to have the tree removed, know that some tree companies will do it for a reduced fee if they can have the wood but usually they try to take the wood AND charge you a considerable sum for the work including clean-up and debris removal. Be sure to put it in the contract if they're to take the wood (for a reduction of the cost because they should be able to sell the wood if you don't want it) or they've agreed to cut the wood and stack it for seasoning - if you don't get it in writing they are very likely to be less than fair with you and leave a horrible mess. Be sure your homeowner insurance covers them whilst doing the work including any damages they may cause (running over shrubbery, driving their vehicles over the grass or veg patch, etc). Also - and this is VERY important, be sure they're licensed, bonded, and insured themselves. Insist on copies of all their certification BEFORE you sign a contract!

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    July 7, 20150 found this helpful

    Addition to Frugal Sunnie's answer:

    We had similar problems in an older house with big trees-clay pipes cracked by and roots growing in our pipes from the trees. Many house owners in the area had the same problems and recommended that we just have the pipes cleared out annually by a plumber using an auger. This is best done in the fall; in the San Francisco Bay Area, the usual price was around $100 annually. We lived there for 15 years and did not have any problems using the annual clearing method. We used regular toilet paper with no problem.

    There is another chemical method to clean pipes but it is extremely dangerous to use and can make the problem worse.

    Re tree removal-this is another subject entirely! I have much more information on tree removal and it is not a pretty picture. If interested, message me.

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    July 9, 20150 found this helpful

    Buy any kind of quick-dissolve toilet paper that is made for RV use. If you're not sure where to look for this, I usually buy specialty products on Amazon.

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    April 13, 2013 Flag

    What can I use to keep tree roots from growing into my plumbing? I had a real bad backup recently. I mean even into the washing machine. The plumbing bill was almost $500.00, not to mention the all day cleanup. The plumber said the problem was tree roots growing into the pipes. I've heard there's something you can put in your drain that will dissolve roots and prevent this problem. Anyone know what it is and where I can get it? I don't know what kind of pipes I have. The house was built in 1973 and was considered state of the art then. It is not a septic tank, it is city plumbing. Removing the trees is not an option (most of them aren't even mine).

    By Joanie from South Norfolk , VA

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    April 15, 20130 found this helpful

    There is a product I use called Root Gone. It is copper sulfate. I get it at Menards. I'm sure you can find it at other hardware type stores.

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    April 15, 20130 found this helpful

    I've used a product called Root Killer by Roebic. It was a bottle of very small pellets that you would dump down the toilet (1/3 at a time) before bedtime and and then not flush it till the morning. Lowes and Wal-Mart have it in a foam. It worked very well every time. The bottle said to use it once a year, but I used it every 4-6 months and it kept the roots from growing. Good luck!

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    April 15, 20130 found this helpful

    I have a plumber friend that told me after lines were roater rooter out to put salt in the water tank of toilet to kill root,especially in spring & fall. I bought a cattle salt block & I chip off some of it & put it in the tank. I haven't had any trouble for years.

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    October 6, 2008 Flag
    0 found this helpful

    What is a good way to rid tree roots in the sewer lines? Our landlord will not pay to have this fixed.

    Rebecca from Provo, Utah

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    October 3, 20080 found this helpful

    Our local Rent-All center where my husband went to rent a 'snake' to clear our sewer lines told him to pour a gallon of bleach all at once down the toilet once a month, that it will kill the roots. So far, it seems to have worked for us and it's been over a year with no problems.

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    October 6, 20080 found this helpful

    I work for a water dept in Texas, we use Copper Sulfate in our main sewer lines. If you have to rock salt will work also, but do not use it if on a septic tank.

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    December 2, 20100 found this helpful

    One problem with copper sulfate root killers for toilet applications, either septic or sewer, is that the ingredients flush past the roots along with the water. There is a new product called Root 'N Clean that solves that problem by using water soluble packets that get caught by the roots so that the foam coats the roots after the water has flushed by. It also allows consumers not to touch the copper sulfate or deal with hazardous materials at all. As a result, it is safe to use and very effective as a copper sulfate root killer.

    http://www.coppersulfaterootkiller.com/home.html

    Greg

    Root 'N Clean

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    April 15, 20130 found this helpful

    Check with your state for the booklet Tenants and landlords. In most states, the landlord is held responsible for the sewer line on his property. The land is his property, you are only renting.

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    March 11, 2009 Flag
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    How do I know if I have roots in my sewers?

    Nora from Canada

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    March 12, 20090 found this helpful

    As my sewer repair guy put it, "when toilet paper and what-not won't get through anymore." I liked his being delicate and polite with that terminology.

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    March 13, 20090 found this helpful

    There is a granular substance that can be found at any hardware (Ace, Lowes, Home Depot) that works to kill any roots in your sewage lines. I have used it for years about twice a year and it works very well. I did the expensive 'camera' and do have copies of my sewer line all the way to the street if anyone would like to buy one....:-) I ignored their $9000 estimate and went with the granular and it has worked well for almost 10 years.

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    March 14, 20090 found this helpful

    We have a septic tank that kept backing up. We called our local septic tank company and they opened the cleanout valve. They looked to see if there was water laying in the pipe there between the septic tank and the house. If there was water in the pipe then the clog was in the septic tank and if there was no water in the pipe then the clog was in the house. It was determined that ours was in the tank so they ran a snake in the tank and found out that we have what is called spider roots. These are from dollar weed mostly. They suggested that we flush 1/4 cup of rock salt in the toilet once a week for about 2 months. After that just do it periodically. This will not harm the septic at all. The roots will absorb the salt and die off. We have been doing this for about 4 months now and have had no problem since.

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    March 14, 20090 found this helpful

    Thank you Kvaak, Lgoff15, Kimsis, for all your input. Nora

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