Solution to sewer tree root problem?

Page 1 of 2  
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?
Thanks.
Jeff
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
jeff wrote:

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 to it...
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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 with.
Dimitri
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<SNIPPED FOR BREVITY> ____Reply Separator_____ Check into a product named Root X.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<<<SNIPPED FOR BREVITY> ____Reply Separator_____ Check into a product named Root X.>>
Unfortunately, I've tried several root-killing products and they don't actually work as advertised.
Jeff
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Does the tree have to stay or can it be removed?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
<<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.
Jeff
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

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 culprit.
Jeff
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
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 is involved.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

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.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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 told.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

either customs and traditions are different in your neck of the woods or the guy is a fool. check the deeds for easements

as someone else noted, you are usually responsible for the pipe up to the interconnect, usually at the street. have your service people determine where the problems are

he could be wrong, you might need legal assistance
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
:> 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.
My thoughts:
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 problem area?
John Eaton
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

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.
aem sends....
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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.
--
Colbyt
Remove " stopspam." from the email address to reply via email
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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.
Roland
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@mail.utexas.edu says...

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 growth/infiltration.
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!
Marc
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
says...

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.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

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.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.