How to Get Rid of Roots in Your Sewer Line

2018 Jul 20
Posted in: Plumbing
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Think you might have roots invading your sewer line? If that’s the case, we recommend having a professional plumber remove them using 1 of 2 methods:

  • Cut through the roots using a mechanical auger (also called a “snake”)
  • Blast through them using a hydro jetter

Note: You can find chemical methods of killing tree roots, but we don’t recommend them because they can cause serious damage to your plumbing.

Before clearing your line, a good plumber will suggest a video inspection to make sure the blockage is actually roots (not something else).

Have questions about removing tree roots from your sewer line?

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Or learn more about our drain-clearing services.

First, you need a video inspection of your sewer line

A video drain inspection, which involves feeding a camera attached to a line down the pipe, will confirm whether roots are creating the clog. It will also tell the plumber the exact location of the blockage, saving you time and labor costs.

Plus, the inspection will show the plumber:

  • The density of the tree root clog
  • Whether your pipes have any other damage
  • The material of your pipes

This information will help the plumber decide whether to use an auger or a hydro jetter.

Note: You can rent machine augers and hydro jetters yourself, but we suggest leaving this heavy machinery to the pros. If you’re not familiar with these tools, you can harm both yourself and your plumbing.

Method #1: Cut through the roots using a mechanical auger

Machine augers are better for removing thin, less dense tree roots.

An auger is a drain-clearing cable machine that feeds a cable down your drain to break up tree roots and pull them back out the drain. Augers come in a wide range of types—from handheld ones you use to clear fixture drains to motorized ones with cutter heads that spin to break up tree roots.

An auger breaks up small roots and pulls them out of the pipe

Method #2: Blast through the roots using a hydro jetter

For denser tree root clogs, use a hydro jetting machine.

A hydro jetter is a machine that feeds a high-pressure hose down the drain and uses a high-powered stream of water with a specialized nozzle to blast through the tree roots. Hydro jetting cleans piping much more thoroughly—also removing scale buildup, grease and other debris—than a machine auger.

Beware of methods that damage your plumbing

A quick Google search will show you several DIY chemical methods of removing tree roots from your pipes. We don’t recommend these methods because they consist of harsh chemicals that can seriously damage your plumbing, causing you more money in the form of future repairs.

Root-killing methods that damage your plumbing include:

  • Foam root killers: This method involves flushing a chemical that, when mixed with water, creates a root-killing foam. The problem? The chemicals in the product can eat away at your pipes, especially plastic materials like ABS or PVC.
  • Crystalline root killers: This method involves flushing crystalline copper sulfate or rock salt down your toilet to kill the tree roots on contact. The bad thing about crystalline root killers is that they can cause corrosion in metal piping.

Plus, with the chemical methods, you won’t get immediate results. See, the chemicals kill the tree roots, but then you have to wait for the roots to decompose and clear your sewer system, which could take weeks or even months.

Worried about the cost of having a pro clear your line?

Look at it this way: A DIY chemical method might save you money right now, but will most likely cause expensive problems in the future. You’re better off having a professional plumber remove tree roots from your sewer line because they’ll make sure it’s done properly.

Need a pro to remove roots from your sewer?

Schedule an appointment

We’ll send one of our trusted plumbers to do a video inspection and properly clear roots from your sewer line.

Want to know more about our services? Check out our drain-clearing service page.

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