How To Get Rid Of Tree Roots In Sewer Line (2024 Update)

Last Updated On June 11, 2024

Updated on January 11, 2024



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How To Get Rid Of Tree Roots In Sewer Line

Do you worry about how your home’s trees can impact your underground pipes? Tree roots are a common problem for homeowners.

If they grow into your sewer line, they can cause serious damage that will lead to expensive repairs. It’s best to plan ahead to prevent a problem.

In this PlumbingNav guide, we will cover:

  • Why you need to get rid of tree roots in sewer line
  • What dissolves tree roots in sewer lines
  • How to kill tree roots in sewer line
  • Foaming root killer vs. copper sulfate
  • How else to dissolve roots in sewer pipes

What's In This Guide?

      Why You Need To Get Rid Of Tree Roots In Sewer Line

      The trees in your yard enhance the curb appeal, emit clean air, and provide shade. However, trees contain large root systems. When these roots need water, such as during a minor dry spell, they will search for the nearest source of water. In many cases, whether the pipes contain leaks or not, this leads the roots to your pipes.

      It’s also important to consider new tree placement and root growth when you plant new trees.

      Roots can grow into sewer lines through small cracks or holes, and as they expand, they can block the line and cause backups. In some cases, tree roots can even break through sewer lines, causing costly repairs upwards of $5000 – $10,000. Keep in mind that older sewer materials like clay pipe is especially vulnerable to tree root intrusion.

      If you suspect that tree roots are growing in your sewer line, it’s important to take action quickly before root invasion leads to a burst pipe and emergency plumbing for your sewer system.

      Before a root intrusion causes damage to your pipes, you may notice a clogged drain due to root obstruction. Clogged pipes may lead to slow drains and other minor inconveniences in your plumbing system but don’t usually require emergency service.

      You can pay for professional tree root removal, or you can handle the issue yourself.

      did you know How To Get Rid Of Tree Roots In Sewer Line

      What Dissolves Tree Roots In Sewer Lines

      Dissolving tree roots are typically the best way to remove them from a sewer line. This can be done with a variety of chemicals, including copper sulfate, potassium hydroxide, and sodium hydroxide.

      One nifty trick to prevent tree roots from entering your pipes is to pour Epson salt down the drain on a regular basis. 

      For smaller root systems, a jetter may be able to break up the roots and flush them out of the drain pipe. In severe cases, excavation may be necessary to remove the tree root system from the sewer line.

      How To Kill Tree Roots In Sewer Line

      Follow these simple steps to kill tree roots in your sewer line:

      1. Start by identifying the root of the problem. 

      If you have a tree near your house, chances are its roots are growing into your sewer line, but it’s best to examine your pipe first. 

      To confirm the cause and extent of your sewer line problems, you can contact a professional plumber to conduct a sewer camera inspection of your sewer line (or read our review of the best sewer cameras with locators to perform the inspection yourself).

      2. Once you’ve identified the source of the problem, you’ll need to remove the tree roots from your sewer line. 

      This can be done using a rooter machine, which is a specialized plumbing tool that cuts through roots. 

      If like most homeowners, you don’t have access to a rooter machine, you can use a chemical drain cleaner specifically designed to kill tree roots. 

      The right tree root killer for you varies based on the following considerations:

      • Active ingredients
      • Foam or copper sulfate
      • Duration of effectiveness
      • Simplicity
      • Appropriate for sewer line pipe material
      • Safe for septic tank and septic system

      Click here to see our review of the best tree root killers to learn more.

      3. Once the tree roots have been removed from your sewer line, it’s important to prevent them from coming back. 

      To do this, you’ll need to repair any cracks or holes in your sewer line. Depending on the extent of the damage, you can move forward with no extensive repairs and achieve satisfactory results with simple tree trimming and tree watering practices. 

      Alternatively, if you have a severely damaged pipe, you may require pipe lining that coats the old pipe with epoxy resin and then cures it so that it hardens, creating a new pipe inside the old pipe.

      Foaming Root Killer vs. Copper Sulfate

      Foaming root killers are designed to quickly kill the roots that are causing clogs in your sewer lines.

      Here is a popular root killer product, and it’s super easy to use.

      It’s a very low-cost way to attempt a DIY solution before an expensive plumbing call.

      (Click on the below image to see on Amazon.)

      They are a popular way for how to dissolve roots in the sewer pipe since they fill the pipes and work even when your home uses the pipes. Furthermore, they don’t typically release any chemicals into the air. 

      Copper sulfate is a commonly used foaming root killer because it is powerful. However, copper sulfate can also be used to kill roots in your yard, which can be a problem if you have trees or other plants growing near your sewer lines. 

      Copper sulfate may also release toxins into the air. While inhalation exposure is slight, it can lead to respiratory irritation of the mucous membranes, eyes, and lungs

      Furthermore, you won’t be able to use your pipes for a period of time while the product works its magic. However, it may be the only solution to serious problems for how to dissolve stubborn roots in your sewer pipe.

      If you are considering using a foaming root killer in your home, be sure to ask your plumber about the best option for your specific situation.

      How Else To Dissolve Roots In Sewer Pipe

      There are a few different ways that you can dissolve roots in sewer pipes. 

      One method is to use a root cutter. This tool helps to chop up the roots into smaller pieces so that they can be flushed out of the pipe. Your plumber should have access to a root cutter or a tree service that can assist you if you don’t have one. However, they are a relatively simple tool to obtain and use.

      If you do purchase a root cutter pick one based on size and simplicity. Learn how to use it in the video below (of course, adhere to the instructions provided by your product if you notice any discrepancies):

      Alternatively, a plumbing service may suggest using hydro jetting, which forces water through your pipes at high-pressure levels to clear them out. 

      FAQs Regarding How to Get Rid of Tree Roots in Sewer Lines

      What happens when tree roots grow in the sewer line?

      When tree roots break into your sewer lines for a drink, they will break the pipe and create a leak. As the leak grows, it can cause serious damage to your yard. It can also impede normal sewer functions. The longer you let the leak grow, the more extensive (and expensive) sewer line repair.

      Do tree root killers work in sewer lines?

      Tree root killers do work in sewer lines. However, you need to pick the right root killer for the job. Consider the type of pipe material and whether you plan to use the pipes for the next 12 hours.

      What is the fastest root killer for sewer lines?

      While not as gentle on your pipes or the environment as foam tree root killers, copper sulfate will get the job done quickly. Be sure to inform your household that they can’t use the plumbing while the root killer works.

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      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about "all things plumbing," helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

      About Plumbing Navigator

      We write about “all things plumbing,” helping you navigate common questions, repairs, and the best plumbing products on the market.

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