My main sewer line has a problem with tree roots. It got clogged from a
tree root 5 years after I moved into my house. It happened again 2 years
after that, and last week it happened 1 year after the previous time.
The sewer people who cleared my main line told me the locations of the
blockages. The first time they used a snake to remove a rather large root
from my line and said the location was around 12 feet from the house. The
2nd time it got clogged, they used a cutter at the end of the snake to break
up blockages (did not remove anything) and said there were two blockages,
one of which was 16 feet from the house and the 2nd was 24 feet from the
house. The 3rd time it got clogged (last week) they used a cutter again,
and said there was one blockage around 11 feet from the house (which pretty
much jibes with the location of the original blockage).
My sewer plumber (who doesn't do replacement work) thought it was time to
have something done about fixing the problem. It seems there are some sewer
contractors who believe that a video inspection is necessary before
determining whether or not to replace the line, while others feel that
replacement is the way to go based on what I already know, and say that I'm
not gonna learn anything more than I already know from a video inspection.
Could a video inspection tell me anything I don't already know, or is it
likely just a waste of money?
Is it possible that repairing the line could be a reasonable long-term
solution, or is replacement of the line the only reasonable long-term
solution to this problem?
BTW, one sewer contractor said that an option is to restore the existing
pipe with a PVC liner (a tube that they put in, then inflate and then cure).
Is a PVC liner an effective long-term solution as an alternative to
replacement, or should I stay away from that?
how far down is the pipe located??? on my mothers house the pipe was
like under two feet of dirt... easy dig for most people.. if thats the
case then just start digging and do the repair.. if its 12 feet under
the earth surface then you gonna need a machine to dig the trench to get
IMO, replacing a line that doesn't need replacing is a waste of money. A
video inspection is not a waste of money. It is identifying the problem
and hence possible solutions.
I have a problem with tree roots. I do not wish to remove the tree, so I
had a video inspection done. The line was in much, much better shape than
anyone believed. There was no pressing need to replace it, like I believed
before. Yes, it can be repaired in sections, but that could cost almost as
much as an entire new line. Get the video done and see what you are working
<<Does the tree have to stay or can it be removed?>>
Roughly 8 feet from the sewer line, there is a row of 5 hemlock trees that,
according to my measurements, are right on the property line between my
property and my neighbor's property. In addition to this, there is a large
maple tree a few feet behind one of the hemlock trees, which is completely
on my neighbor's property.
I assume I would need my neighbor's permission to remove the hemlock trees,
since they are exactly on the property line, and those trees were there when
I moved into the house so I don't know who originally planted them. I'd
also hate to remove the hemlock trees and then later find out the maple tree
is the cause, since the hemlock trees provide some degree of privacy.
Root pruning is an option though. It's basically trenching a couple
feet from the hemlocks on your side, cutting all the roots. It isn't
permanent but can buy you several years if these are the roots
infiltrating the line.
Hemlocks don't normally have far ranging roots, but if the canopy of
the maple shades your yard above the line, it's very possible it's the
Roots in the sewer line are a real pain. We have lived in our house for 26
years and have had roots clogging up the sewer lines for 26 years. We have
had cameras run through our line twice. They have never found any large
discernable breaks or gaps either time. There are so many things that can
be causing the problems. In our case, we discovered that normally the pipe
from the house carrying the water and sewage is 4" in diameter. Then
shortly after it exits the house, the 4" pipe drains into a 6" pipe and
stays 6" in diameter until it hits the sewer main. In our case the problem
is that the builder never installed a 6" pipe. Our drainage pipe stays 4"
in diameter all the way to the sewer main. Our house is about 32 years old
and the 4" pipe has quite a few joints. All it takes is 'hair roots' from
the trees sneaking in the pipe at the joints to clog a 4" pipe. The sewer
main is on the other side of our street - 140 feet from our pipe stack. So,
we have a very long run and many joints.
Putting in a new sewer line is not an option with us. We would have to tear
up the street as our line runs under it to the main on the opposite side of
the street. The estimate to do that is between $15,000 and $20,000. The
street would have to be torn up and repaired as part of fixing our line.
Also, the sewer main runs under the front yard of neighbors across the
street. And, yes you need permission from them before anything can be done.
We have tried a lot of different kinds of root killers. Some we put in
ourselves and one called Root-X had to be put in the pipes by a plumbing
contractor. Nothing has worked. Every 6-8 months the sewer needs to be
cleaned out by a snake. That is the only thing we can do.
In your case, you definitely need a camera to go through your pipes to see
what is going on. I can't imagine a reputable contractor just tearing up
you lawn and pipes without really knowing exactly what the problem is. They
need to determine how long you pipe runs and how deep in the ground it is.
If you do decide to have it replaced, get a very firm cost estimate from
them. It can be a very very expensive undertaking. Some contractors won't
give a firm estimate until they actually tear the yard up and see what work
usually if your sewer line passes through someone else's property you
would have an easement for access to the line, of course you'd have to
restore the property after the work but you might not need permission.
The person who told us that we would need permission from the people across
the street before we could do anything on their property was the Chief
Engineer for the city in which we live. If we had large breaks or
structural problems, the city would have helped with the cost of fixing our
line. But, since we only had places where thin hair roots were growing in
at seams of the pipes, if we wanted to do any digging or replacing of the
sewer line, it was totally our responsibility as far as paying for it. I
specifically asked (before we knew exactly what the problem was) that if
digging was necessary at the point where our line met the sewer main line -
the location of the meeting of these lines being in the middle of the yard
across the street - if we would need permission from the neighbors. The
City Engineer said that we definitely needed their permission before we
could do anything. He said if they did not agree, we could not do
anything. It seemed very weird to us at the time. But that is what we were
:> usually if your sewer line passes through someone else's property you:> would have an easement for access to the line, of course you'd have to:> restore the property after the work but you might not need permission.
: The person who told us that we would need permission from the people across
: the street before we could do anything on their property was the Chief
: Engineer for the city in which we live.
He could be right but I would want to find out more.
He may know that you don't NEED permission but is trying to avoid
having your angry neighbor showing up at his office asking why you
are digging up his yard.
Maybe his office or the original developers "forgot" to get all the
easements in place and he is now hoping that noone will notice?
It does sound strange.
Can you put in a automatic drip irrigation system on the trees so they
won't be as desperate to find water?
Can you put in a smaller pipe inside your existing pipe and bypass the
The 'as built' street and the 'as platted' street often do not match,
especially in curbless subdivisions. In many subdivisions I have seen, the
paved street is a meandering 1.5 lane blacktop, but the legal easement is
the full 40 feet or whatever wide. Note that in a subdivision, unlike a
through road or hiway, the street is often NOT owned by the city or
whatever, and the 'official' property lines go to the center of the road.
The easment for the street, and the agreement for city upkeep, are often
part of the subdivision documents. And sewers usually go in before streets,
if available when subdivision is created. They are often off to one side, if
added later, to avoid tearing up road completely, with 'wrong' side hookups
pushed under pavement, or done in as narrow a slit as possible.
Like most real estate things, there is much variation from area to area.
Local assesors office, or wherever the recorded deeds live, can give you the
straight info for your block. All this is a good example of why it is a Very
Good Idea to get a current survey and updated abstract when buying property.
Been following this thread but had nothing to add until now.
Check your local codes. In my part of the world your responsibility ends at
the property line and the local government is responsible for providing you
an adequate sewer to that point. Sewer easements where your line cross
another property are a matter of public record. You do not need permission
to repair a line on an easement area. Planting things other than grass or
building on an easement are not permitted so your repair cost is legally
limited to the allowed things. As a good neighbor you may want to restore
as fully as possible.
Remove " stopspam." from the email address to reply via email
I had a backup problem. Water was coming up from the washing machine
floor drain and drowning the kitchen floor. Plumber tried snakes. Didn't
work. Then he said he might have to dig up the line. This would involve
ripping out the front porch, and digging for maybe 30 feet.
Then I saw some root killer at a lumber company. Copper-based. Don't have
any empty container, so don't remember the name. Might be Roebic. It worked
fine. No more problems. Pour it in the toilet three times, and flush after
each application. But you have to remember not to run any water nor flush
the toilet for as long as possible - at least overnight. I might have used
it several nights in a row.
Roebic also makes a bacterial enzyme to unclog pipes. You are supposed to
mix it in warm water and pour it down all household drains once a month.
Again, don't run any water or flush anything.
I'm thinking it putting it in the washing machine in warm water, and
running the washing machine on rinse just before bedtime, because the floor
drain is now sealed. Not sure if this is a good idea.
I am sceptical about root killers. When I dig in my garden I cannot get
through roots with an AXE !!! I frequently spend quite a while to get rid
of pretty modest roots. I have dead trees and YEARS later the roots are
still around in the lawn. So I seriously doubt you can get rid of a root
by killing it with copper sulfate or whatever. Even if the chemical
kills the root the mechanical obstruction will be around for a long time.
The chemicals can probably kill fine root hairs, but root hairs do not
stay root hairs for long.
The way the root killers is as follows, from what I've read:
1. Get the drains clean by mechanically "rooting them out."
2. Periodically use the Root Kill or Root X or whatever. The copper
sulfate is highly poisonous and inhibitory to new root
So, it's unusual that it would actually fix an existing blockage, rather
it is a preventative. I agree with Roland that once the roots are in the
drain, it would probably take a lot more than copper sulfate to remove
the roots, at least for the kinds of trees that block my pipes!
We must have unbelievably stubborn roots. We have tried everything
mentioned in all of these posts except for replacing the actual sewer line.
After having the sewer line snaked out, we had a plumbing contractor put
Root-X in the drains. It was quite expensive and has to be done by a
plumbing company. It goes in the pipe on the roof. It is a 2 part dry
mixture of something and then water is poured down the pipe after the dry
mix is put in. It is supposed to foam up and totally coat the drain pipes.
The idea is that it 'coats' the inside of the pipe and inhibits the future
growth of roots with some sort of chemical. It has a one year guarantee.
Ours lasted 10 months, then after reapplying - 8 months and finally the last
time it only kept the drain unclogged for 7 months. The contractor who was
doing the applications of Root-X kept saying that the blockage had to be
something other than roots as Root-X was SO effective. This is the company
that last ran the camera down the sewer line so they knew that there was no
structural damage to the pipes. Each time they snaked out the pipe, they
came up with roots. They finally told us that they would not have us as
customers any more as it was costing them a lot to keep putting the stuff in
when it was not lasting as long as it was supposed to.
Actually, we were tired of this treatment anyway. It didn't work any better
than just having the pipes snaked out a couple of times a year. Also, the
last guy who put the stuff in the pipe in the roof apparently was not very
familiar with how to apply the Root-X. Instead of the product foaming
downward to the sewer pipes, a lot of the foaming junk poured out the top
the pipe on the roof. It flowed down the roof, into the gutter and down the
downspout. The stuff is toxic as it is made to kill the roots. This cr*p
flowed out the downspout all over our back yard and killed the grass
totally. It was a mess and was not worth the trouble.
After the last time of having our line snaked out, we decided to try the
copper sulfate or whatever it is that you can buy in hardware stores to kill
roots. It said to use it twice a year. We put it in every other month to
try to keep the lines open. After 6 months, our line clogged up with roots.
The last snaking out was about 3 weeks ago. We are at the end of idea as to
what to try to 'chemically' keep the roots from growing. There doesn't seem
to be much left to try. We just keep the plumber's number close by so we
can call for another snake job.
We've done that. For years, we rented a snake and did the job ourselves.
But, for some reason - every so often - the rented snake would not unclog
the line and we wound up still having to call a plumber. We then finally
figured out why some times us using the rental snake would not work. One
plumber took the time to measure how long it was from our basement stack to
the point where our line met up with the sewer main. The run is 140 feet in
length. The longest snake we could rent was 100 feet. Any many times the
rentals were not even the full 100 feet. Some of the rented snakes had been
repaired because of kinks. When the kinks were removed to make the snake
usable, the length of the snake got smaller.
So, when we did it ourselves, if the root clog was in the first 100 or so
feet, the rental would open the sewer up. But at times, the clog was in the
part of the line between 100 and 140 feet. Then even the plumbers had to
bring in the extra line to add on to the basic 100 feet to get to the clog.
Also, when we were renting the snakes, we had stationwagons or minivans.
Our cars now are sedans. The rental snake is a very ungainly thing and
would not fit very well in a normal sized trunk. Plus, the older we get,
the more difficult it is to use the snake ourselves. Some of the rental
were in good shape and worked well, But at other times the rentals were
very poor, the switches did not work well and the whole process became too
dangerous to do. But the biggest reason we stopped renting was that many
times, the 100 foot snake could not reach the clog.
We really have tried just about everything we can think of to try to keep
the drains flowing.
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