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How To Clear Tree Roots From Drains

Stressed about removing tree roots from your drain pipes? We are here with an informational guide that details the process of clearing roots from drains on your property. 

Steven Bahbah

Steven Bahbah

Tree roots in drain pipes can be a major headache if not dealt with quickly and effectively.

The roots of surrounding plants can enter even the most minor cracks in your sewer pipes and prevent the water from flowing through them, causing an overflow of sewage water onto your property. These roots can also cause the pipe to collapse.

Hence, preventing tree roots from growing in your sewer drains is crucial. And we’ve shared the details of the process to scrap them and ensure smooth water flow through sewer drains.

So, without further ado, let's get into it!

How Do These Roots Enter The Drain Pipes?

A tiny crack in the water or drain pipe invites the roots to wiggle inside. Earthenware or older porcelain pipes are most prone to cracks, as they tend to get hot or cold very fast, thereby creating temperature stress. The root fibres then force their way through these cracks and grow inside.

These sewer lines have adequate moisture and temperature- ideal conditions for tree roots to grow.

On the other hand, PVC pipes are resistant to cracks or splitting if all their joints are thoroughly sealed when installed. So, there is a lesser chance of roots entering these sewer pipes.

Nevertheless, most plumbers fail to fill the gaps when installing these pipes. Besides, the loose joints and gaps in these pipes can open doors for roots to enter. As a single root fibre gets inside the drain, it can grow further and cause more significant cracks.

How To Get Rid Of These Roots?

There’s no one-solution-fits-all approach for getting rid of roots from drains- the method will entirely depend on the extent of damage it has caused. Plus, you need to have the right tools and knowledge of the appropriate methods to remove tree roots from your sewer lines.

However, if you’re not confident enough, you can always call upon a professional plumber to do it. On that note, here are some of the methods that you can use to remove these roots.


A. Cutting Roots Mechanically

This is probably the most challenging way of dealing with the problem among all methods we'll mention. However, it's only applicable if your pipes are shallow and the blockage is visible after digging just a few feet. And you’ll need a mechanical auger for this method.

This method is also applicable when there’s a massive tree root invasion outside the ground. Some special mechanical augers with a rotating head can be sent down the drain to clear the roots and free the drain. However, this is only a temporary solution, as new roots may immediately grow again.

B. Using Chemicals

Many special chemicals are available that kill roots and don’t allow them to grow back. Copper sulphate septic treatments are the most common, but more options are available.

This method is much easier and more efficient than the previous one. You aren’t required to use your physical strength- spray it (half a cup) around the sewer line to get rid of the roots. In hindsight, the chemical creates a layer of poison on the soil that kills the roots even before they grow.

Besides, other treatments can be applied on pipes, which don’t allow roots to grow from above.

C. Hydro Jetting

Hydro jetting is yet another effective yet costly way to clean your sewer lines. This method uses a hydro-jet that pushes water at high-pressure through its duct. Any tiny roots or waste materials are pushed into the bottom, and finally, chemicals are sprayed to kill any remaining roots.

Do Relined Pipes Inhibit The Entry Of Roots?

Before we answer this question, let’s understand what relined pipes are.

Pipe relining is a new technology to repair cracked, broken or blocked drains. The difference between a relined pipe and a traditionally repaired pipe is that everything is done above the ground in the former. You aren’t required to dig the ground, so there’s no property damage.

So how’s it better? A relined pipe is resistant to further invasive tree roots and can stay that way for almost half a century. In this process, a synthetic liner with composite resins is impregnated over the damaged section of the pipe and is cured to obtain a new and robust pipe inside an old one.

Although the method is costlier than any of our previously-mentioned methods, it's worth using it for the long-term benefits it renders.

DIY Methods To Clean Roots

If you don’t have an adequate budget to undertake any of the ways mentioned, we also have some DIY ideas to clean the roots. Some of these methods can be dangerous, so perform them with utmost care.

A. Sodium Chloride

Sodium chloride or rock salt is readily available at your local retail stores and wouldn’t cost you much. Put at least 1 kilogram of salt at the furthest end of the drain, followed by a bucket of water. Continue the process a few more times to get at least 5 kilograms of salt inside the drain.

The more salt you flush inside, the more quickly and effectively it dries out the roots.

Although the roots grow back again after a few days, it's an inexpensive and temporary alternative to those arduous and costly methods.

B. Concentrate Weed Killer And Dishwashing Liquid

This is probably one of the most extreme methods of all. In this method, mix 800ml weed killer with a 400 ml dishwashing liquid, and ensure they are mixed thoroughly. Then, flush the mixture down the toilet.

Make sure you aren’t flushing for a few hours until the following midday so that the mixture has enough time to form a coating around the roots. This foam should completely kill any offending tree roots, but this method may also potentially kill the entire tree, which you might not want. So, it’s advisable to use these chemicals in small amounts.

While a dishwashing liquid might not harm your drain system, a weed killer can have several potential negative impacts. Hence, it’s important to use biodegradable products that don’t harm the environment. Also, check for any instructions provided by drain pipes manufacturers.

C. Sulphuric Acid

Again, we won’t recommend using sulphuric acid frequently, considering it damages the condition and health of the sewer system. Remember that only specific amounts of acid kill the roots and don’t damage the drain pipes. So, call a plumber or follow the instructions carefully when using this method.

Also, it is hazardous and can burn your skin during accidental spills or splashes. So, make sure you’re wearing safety gear while dealing with it. But if you’re not confident while using this product, it’s recommended to call a qualified plumber.

D. Commercial Products

Several commercial products are available on the market that claims to prevent roots' entry. However, the issue is that they are only temporary solutions. The roots get eliminated when you spray those but can grow again in the future.

Hence, it would be best if you sprayed them regularly to keep your sewer line root-free.

Eradicating Tree Roots From Your Drains

We’ve mentioned some of the best ways to clear the roots from your sewer pipe, and in most cases, you can deal with them permanently. As we’ve discussed already, if you’re not a DIYer, call for professional help to handle the situation.

FTD Pipe Relining employs the best techniques and methods to ensure that tree roots are safely and effectively removed from your drains. If there has been any damage, we make sure to provide a suitable and permanent solution, so you do not have to deal with it again. Call our Sydney plumbers today!

Also, it’s essential to make sure to plant new trees far away from these pipes. Although you might have to sacrifice some shade, it can save you from significant investments in pipe replacements and repairs over the years.

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