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Old 02-27-2012, 09:53 PM
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Default Chemicals for clearing tree roots from drain pipes?



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Sorry if this is the wrong place to post my question, but I couldn't think of a better one, so . . .

When I bought my house (foreclosure) a few years ago, it had been unoccupied for nearly a year, and almost immediately had issues with the main drain line backing up due to tree roots. We initially had a handy-man type come out and "clear" it, but within a couple weeks the drain was REALLY backed up. This guy insisted that we'd need to dig up the front lawn and replace the pipe. Well, we decided to get a second opinion, called Roto-Rooter, and they got it cleaned out. We're probably due to have it done again this year since that was in late 2007, but I was wondering if some of the root-killing chemicals I've seen at hardware stores are 1) actually good at clearing the roots and 2) not going to kill the mature trees whose roots are probably the culprits.

If the day comes when the water stops running, I'm not going to be too worried about the drain, but until then, I'd like to find a more affordable alternative to hiring a professional if there's something that works. However, I've heard/read that the chemicals are more trouble than they're worth, although nobody ever elaborates on what the "trouble" actually is.

Any suggestions or even horror stories are welcome.
Old 02-27-2012, 10:17 PM
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Put copper in your toilet tank...roots do not like copper.
Old 02-28-2012, 12:52 AM
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My family owns an excavating company and I deal with this every day. If they have pulled back roots before then they will never go away and can get expensive dumping chems once a month. If they dig it you can have new sewer from house to main and never worry again. If it is 6inch clay tile you could recommend inserting pipe to the main. Here in central IL it runs about $1200 to $1700 to the curb or to insert and about $2000 to $2800 to open the road and dig to the main. Just be sure they call a locating service for utilities and about 90% of the time the water is ran in the same ditch as the sewer.




EDIT

Also the trouble with chemicals are remembering to do it once a month. Most people forget about it after the first time thinking that will cure it. They are also hazardous as in breathing and contact with the chem. Also, we have dug right against a tree and have never killed one.
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Old 02-28-2012, 01:06 AM
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I had the same problem at a home we lived in several years back. Older neighborhood, old clay drain pipes.

It's dirty work, but you can rent the same machine Roto-rooter uses to clear drains and "de-root" them yourself for about $60 or so. Very easy to use and only takes an hour or so. $60 and an hour of time every year or two sure beats the cost of replacing your main.
Old 02-28-2012, 01:16 AM
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Most of your root drain cleaners contain copper sulfate which stated above roots don't like.
Old 02-28-2012, 02:30 PM
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I have no experience on this what so ever. But I remember seeing stump remover at walmart. If i remember right the main ingredient in that was potassium nitrate.
Old 02-28-2012, 03:28 PM
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OK, copper sulfate is the stuff I was thinking of. I remember reading the back of the bottle at the store and thinking it sounded too easy . . . too good to be true, if you will. Is this going to be one of those things like Fix-A-Flat in a tire, where you'd definitely want to tell someone you used it if they did have to come over to clear the drain? Other than the cost, is there really a down side to using copper sulfate?
Old 02-28-2012, 06:17 PM
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My dad used to put rock salt down the drain to stop the roots. Not sure it solved the problem but he never had to snake the pipes after that.
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Old 02-28-2012, 07:24 PM
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down here is texas, my plumber recommended and eventually did it,

they snaked the drain, then dug out around the affected pipe, cleared the roots and then covered the pipe in concrete, then filled in the hole. been three years since i had a clogged drain pipe.

It all depends on the type & condition of your pipes.

Curlyjoe
Old 02-28-2012, 11:44 PM
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ANY CHEMICALS PUT DOWN A DRAIN WONT STAY THERE LONG ENOUGH TO DO MUCH GOOD , SPECIALLY WHEN OTHER FAMILY MEMBERS RUN WATER OR FLUSH THE COMMODE !
you can dig it up your self around where the roots are getting in if it is just one spot cut the roots back then fix that section of pipe !
Old 02-29-2012, 12:26 AM
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If you can pull the plug on your pipe where the snake gos in at , and shove a piece of copper wire to the end.Then each month put 4 copper penny's before 1981 down the toilet .This is what we started in 2002 and it has worked for us. But our trees are maples and they are not as bad as some.
Old 02-29-2012, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by blixone View Post
My family owns an excavating company and I deal with this every day. If they have pulled back roots before then they will never go away and can get expensive dumping chems once a month. If they dig it you can have new sewer from house to main and never worry again. If it is 6inch clay tile you could recommend inserting pipe to the main. Here in central IL it runs about $1200 to $1700 to the curb or to insert and about $2000 to $2800 to open the road and dig to the main. Just be sure they call a locating service for utilities and about 90% of the time the water is ran in the same ditch as the sewer.




EDIT

Also the trouble with chemicals are remembering to do it once a month. Most people forget about it after the first time thinking that will cure it. They are also hazardous as in breathing and contact with the chem. Also, we have dug right against a tree and have never killed one.

As a master plumber blixone is right just replace the line
Replacing the line is not complicated, mostly shovel work sdr/pvc is cheap iron is not bad either pipe and few fittings and a bag or so of cement should be all you will need.
Old 02-29-2012, 06:08 PM
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If you're on a septic system, DON"T DO IT!
Old 02-29-2012, 08:11 PM
Borsch Dorks Gorge Borsch Dorks Gorge is offline
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Replace the pipe. You are mainly paying for labour, if you have a good digging spit, a grinder to cut pipes, a tape measure and a level, the main part of the job is digging. Adding the chemicals is a continuing long term effort.

If your roof leaks, you do not just place a bucket to catch the drips, you get up and fix it. Roots, once in pipes are never out of them, you are always fighting them. What is the lentgh of pipe that will need replaced? Then it can be decided if you do the digging by hand or hire a mini digger. How deep are they? Anything special to get through? Concreate? Services?
Old 03-01-2012, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Inazone View Post
Sorry if this is the wrong place to post my question, but I couldn't think of a better one, so . . .

When I bought my house (foreclosure) a few years ago, it had been unoccupied for nearly a year, and almost immediately had issues with the main drain line backing up due to tree roots. We initially had a handy-man type come out and "clear" it, but within a couple weeks the drain was REALLY backed up. This guy insisted that we'd need to dig up the front lawn and replace the pipe. Well, we decided to get a second opinion, called Roto-Rooter, and they got it cleaned out. We're probably due to have it done again this year since that was in late 2007, but I was wondering if some of the root-killing chemicals I've seen at hardware stores are 1) actually good at clearing the roots and 2) not going to kill the mature trees whose roots are probably the culprits.

If the day comes when the water stops running, I'm not going to be too worried about the drain, but until then, I'd like to find a more affordable alternative to hiring a professional if there's something that works. However, I've heard/read that the chemicals are more trouble than they're worth, although nobody ever elaborates on what the "trouble" actually is.

Any suggestions or even horror stories are welcome.
Roto-Rooter has a line of some of the best chemicals root-killing and other
Sizzle works great if applied right after they cut the roots out.

Roto-Rooter can most likely Scope your pipe for you so you can actualy see what if any dammage has been done.
but if you've got trees within 60 or so feet of your sewer pipes you'll get roots growing right back in again.

you'll find there is no real magic bullet to kill and stop roots like you want they just keep comming back.

Don't want roots all the time ...Kill off and cut down any trees or bushes with in about 120 feet of your home sewer lines
this includes tree's on the other side of your house too it's got to be a 120 foot 360 degrees foot print and you still might get some roots.



I like the rock salt Idea applying it once or twice a month you'll get some of it just sitting in the pipe for a while and the Roots won't like the Salt water baths all the time.



Phantom
Old 03-03-2012, 08:33 PM
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Had this problem at a previous house, big sweetgum tree grew into the drain field of the septic system the landlord had a company install. The installers ran the drain field right through the root field of that 120 year old sweetgum and it grew roots within the first year, nasty thick roots.
I got another contractor out there to rerun the drain field and he gave me some excellent advice. Three boxes of plain salt down the toilet every three months will keep the roots out of the drain field and it did.
I did this over a period of three years until we moved and never had a problem with the septic system again.
Old 03-03-2012, 09:12 PM
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If it's been 5 years and no problems, are you sure it was tree roots? Usually they regrow faster than that.
Old 03-04-2012, 12:33 AM
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I'll chime in as I went through this almost two years ago.

We were having continual root problems I. Our main line. We had it rooted several times and also used pounds of the copper granules and all that crap that was only temporary.

We finally decided to do a complete front yard remodel that involved pouring about 800sq ft of decorative concrete patio. I figured it was best to replace the old clay pipe before the construction as I didn't want to have to demo the new patio down the line.

Here is what I did.

I knew where the main line exited from under the footing of the house and dug an inspection hole to verify its location and which angle it ran to the street. I rented a mini excavator for a day (I work for a construction equipment rental company so I got it for cheap). At the house it was about 36" deep and out at the sidewalk it was about 4' deep. The total run was about 50' and only took me one day to dig the length of pipe. I dug it so that only the top of the pipe was showing. I then dug around the sides by hand which was easy so it looked like the old clay pipe was just sitting at the bottom of the trench. I then had a lic plumber come in and pull the clay pipe and install new 4" ABS pipe the entire run. He also put in two new clean outs. One going down and out to the street and the other going down and into the house.

Altogether, with the excavator and the cost of the materials and plumber to install new pipe was about $1400. Really, it was some of the best &1400 I have spent on my home. I had quotes from several other plumbers that priced the same job out from $4k $5k. It is one less thing on my home that I will NEVER have to worry about.

Do it once, spend a little money and do it right.

Surely you know some one that can operate a mini excavator and help you out.
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