Are Tree Roots Strangling Your Sewer Line? What Are Your Options?

If you've recently begun to notice your sinks, tubs, and toilets clogging more easily or draining slowly, you may be considering buying stock in liquid drain cleaner to offset the number of bottles you've purchased. However, in some cases, your sewer problems could be the result of tree roots that have snaked their way into small cracks in your sewer line, widening these crevices and preventing water and liquid waste from flowing into the sewer main. If left untreated, these tree roots could destroy your sewer pipe, leading to expensive and inconvenient repairs. Read on to learn more about your quickest and most long-term effective options to remove stubborn tree roots from your sewer lines. 

What factors should you consider when choosing a root removal method?

There are several effective ways to rid your sewer lines of tree roots, but each of them can have different "side effects" -- so you'll want to take some factors into account when deciding how to proceed.

If you're certain you know which tree's roots are harming your sewer line and you don't want to harm the tree, you'll want to stick to mechanical methods to remove the roots from the pipe, rather than using chemicals to kill the tree roots -- even if the tree has an extensive root system, introducing poison into one section of the roots can harm the rest of the tree or put it off-balance as the remaining root structure must support it. 

If you're dealing with a stump or smaller tree and don't mind getting rid of it, you may be able to use chemicals to kill the roots or even have them manually removed. 

What can you do to rid your sewer lines of tree roots? 

One way to quickly clear your pipes is to use an auger to bore into the sewer line from the top down -- as the auger goes deeper into the sewer line, it effortlessly chops up any tree roots that are in the way, reopening the pathway from your home's plumbing to the public sewer main. After you've had your pipes augered, you'll want to take steps to repair any cracks that allowed the roots access; since you're not killing off the root, simply cutting it out of the way, it may quickly regrow back into the line unless you block its entry path. 

Another option for those who don't care whether the tree lives or dies is to use a chemical solution to kill off the tree roots. There are several different ways to administer these chemicals, but most homeowners opt to either flush them down the toilet (where they spark a foaming reaction to fill the pipe and kill off any tree roots creating blockages) or place them into the soil around the tree roots where they can work from the top down. The latter is usually the best permanent removal option, as these chemicals will remain in the soil and continue to kill off any other tree roots that try to infiltrate the area. For more information, see a website such as