How to Clear Roots from Drain Pipes + Bonus Precautionary Measures

Looking to find out how to clear roots from drain pipes?

Almost any type of greenery, including trees, adds instant curb appeal to your property. Oh, how lovely tree buds are in the spring and the shade the tree branches make in the summer… However, once your pipe fittings become loose and tiny tree roots find their way to your sewer line where the oxygen, water, and nutrients are, a problem may arise.

Mature trees pose a major threat for they develop web-like root systems all around your property, which makes it trickier to cut the problem at its root (literally). Roots are growing larger and thicker day by day, both above and below ground (which is why the issue is more likely to go without notice), and then, severe clogs within your sewer happen.

Besides causing  blockages, tree roots can cause floods in your basement and wreak havoc down there, resulting in costly repairs. [1]

Today, we’re giving you pro tips on how to clear roots from drain pipes and combat root invasion.

How Can You Tell There Are Roots In Your Drain Pipe?

three_roots_in_pvc_pipe.jpeg

1. You can clearly hear the gurgling noise coming from your sinks, tubs, and toilets and draining takes time.

2. Strong, rotten odors are coming from your drains.

3. The soil around your sewer line has become well-moisturized and even sunk down a bit.

4. Lush greens are growing all around your property or in certain areas where there was no greenery before.

5 Proven Methods on How to Clear Roots From Drain Pipes

roots_in_water_pipe.jpeg

It doesn’t matter if you already have roots in your toilet drain and you want to eliminate them from the system or you just want to act preventively and make your home less attractive to roots – these tried-and-tested methods can come to the rescue.

1.     Use Rock Salt

If you are on the lookout for the easiest methods that can kill roots in your PVC drain pipe, try using rock salt. Flush half a cup of rock salt down the toilet to get things flowing again. Don’t repeat the process, otherwise, you may be damaging the tree itself. However, keep in mind you are going to need a more permanent solution if six months down the road new roots start creeping into your drain pipes.

2.     Copper Sulfate

Copper sulfate is a natural, bright blue, salt-like herbicide and the best root killer for sewer lines according to many homeowners. If you’ve spotted the signs we mentioned before and you want to stop these small tree roots from invading your dwelling place, flush a cup of copper sulfate down the toilet, and you’ll see results within 3 to 4 weeks. Bear in mind not to apply this remedy through a sink or tub for it will make the metal pipes corrode and damage your septic system.

3.     Use a Foaming Root Killer

If home remedies don’t work, try with a dedicated foaming root killer (at Bunnings or any other warehouse and home improvement store). Mix this agent with some water, pour it into the pipe and let it foam. Foaming root killers contain dichlobenil, a chemical safe for the pipes and septic systems but toxic for roots. If you were wondering “what dissolves tree roots in sewer lines ”, this solution could provide a snappy result. [2]

To kill your invisible enemies, you can also make a DIY, eco-friendly foam root killer. Use a cup of regular table salt and mix it with a cup of with vinegar and baking soda, then add a cup of boiling water to all this. Once you notice a fizzing reaction, flush this mix down the toilet. Although this mixture kills roots on contact, you should be flushing away your toilet more often for the next week or two so you wash away the dead roots from the pipe.

4.     Cut Tree Roots Mechanically

You want to get rid of those nasty roots in your drain pipe but DIY solutions don’t work? You’ll probably have to call a sewer line specialist who will cut the roots mechanically using a sewer auger (also known as a rooter). They will send the rotating spiral head of the auger (resembling a saw blade) down the line and it will cut the roots and remove the obstruction at a rate of knots. [3]

5.     Use a Hydro Jetter

A hydro jetter is a children’s toy-like machine using the power of water to unclog pipes and clear up sewer lines. It consists of wires spinning at 50,000 rounds per minute and can produce up to 18 gallons of water per minute.

Renting a hydro jetter is a bit costly, although the fact this machine has a 500-feet reach can mean a lot if you are dealing with roots that have been sitting for ages in your sewer system. Either way, flush the drainage line using chemicals to dissolve tree roots afterwards to make sure not a single one is left standing.

Alternatively, you can use a high-pressure washer (if you already have one and you are a bit short on a tight budget). However, you will still need to buy an attachment hose so your pressure washer can generate more pressure needed to tackle the roots. Attach the hose to the pressure washer, push it into the pipework, and let the magic happen before your eyes.

Tip: Once your sewer line is free of roots, inspect it and try to find damaged pipes. If there are any, it would be best to either replace old clay pipes with new PVC pipes or install a pipe sleeve. Your plumber should be able to give you proper advice, based on the degree of damage.

Who to Call?

If you believe there are roots in your toilet drain, you might not know who to call for help – a plumber or a sewer line specialist. Both are fine, although not all plumbers work with sewer lines. If you want to play safe, contact a sewer line specialist or a rooter company.

Preventative Measures

  • Stay away from planting trees and hedges close to the sewer line. Plant them at least 10 (ideally 30) feet away.
  • If you still decide to plant some greenery around the sewer line, choose species that grow at a slower rate.
  • Saturate the area around the sewer line using a copper sulfate or foaming root killer. Dig a hole, insert a pipe into it, fill it with whatever agent you choose, pour some boiling water on top, then cap the pipe and repeat the process once in a while.
  • Get rid of aggressive large trees or the ones that tend to grow large because these can endanger your drain pipes.
  • Clean the sewer lines regularly and check for fissures and leaks occasionally.

Summary

Today we gave you not one but 5 tips on how to clear roots from drain pipes – from DIY remedies that provide temporary solutions to professional services that will spare you of costly repairs tree roots can trigger. Read next: How to thaw frozen pipes underground!