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  • problem with roots in mainline

    i have problems with roots in my main sewer line. its a four inch tile and i have it augered in the fall every year. is there some chemical i can use to rid my line of these roots? it would cost too much too dig it up and replace with plastic pipe.... thanks alot.

  • #2
    There is no chemical that will kill the roots entirely. What you have to look at is that the roots are not the problem. They are causing a problem, but the main problem is that your sewer pipe has cracks in it. You will eventually get to a point where it can no longer be augered and it will have to be replaced. How old is the system and how many years in a row have you had to have it augered? You can put all kinds of chemicals down the drain to slow root groth (calcium sulfate) but none of them are going to stop the roots and they are a waste of money if you're having to have this done this frequently. Rather than just replacing the whole system, you should have it visually inspected with a sewer camera. That way you can see with your own eyes how bad it really is. Camera inspections are a cheap way to know what is going on without plunging into your wallet. As usual call around for the best price, some companies can be rediculous with their camera pricing.


    • #3
      dive, some of what theron said is correct, and some is ?

      a camera inspection is good at determining what and where your problems are. once a year is not out of the ordinary. roots are in 99% of the pipes that i inspect. that doesn't mean tht 99% of the people are changing their sewers.

      what i typically do is to document the line and make a video. mark the root issues and as long as the pipe is in good alingment at the joints, the roots can be treated. also the footage is very important in documenting. i can snake the line and concentrate at these marks. the rest of the pipe is typically spotless. put the effort where the roots are.

      there are some very good chemicals. the one that theron mentioned is ???. the actual name is copper sulfite. the problem with the copper sulfate is that it settles on the bottom of the pipe and doesn't get to the real root issue. an even better one is root-x. this one is a foaming product that will get to the top of the pipe where the roots typically come in.

      another method is to line the pipe or chenge it with a pipe bursting machine. both of which are expensive.

      my real advise is to camera the line properly. throughly snake the line based on the camera findings. then re-camera to verify the job. at this point you know that the line is properly cleaned and then a track record can be established.

      i charge $440. (3 hours or less)to do this. snake , video , re-snake and re-video.

      if the line is truly broken and offset, then you know where to repair. all cement poured joints will allow some small roots in. the newer joints are banded with a rubber gasket and stainlees steel clamp. this allows for a flexible joint and water, root proof.

      once again, once a year is not off par.

      phoebe it is


      • #4
        Copper sulfate, not calcium sulfate, i had my chemicals confused (calcium sulfate is used in sulfuric acid which is in drain-o). I do sell the root-x on jobs that require it. It is a much better chemical, BUT you cannot buy it in some states because of the chemical it contains. I cannot sell it on any work that i do in Kentucky, and when i sell it in Ohio or Indiana, I have to apply it, I cannot allow the customer to use it - It requires a pesticide license in those states. It is not an easy product to use and you can make a mess, especially if you spill the foam all over a linoleum floor (it eats the finish off). I would suggest having a professional apply this product right after a cleaning, same day. If you're not a pro, RootX tells you not to buy their product - It will do no good to use it months after you have it cleaned or when you are experiencing a backup. You'll still have roots in your line they'll just be dead roots. After a cleaning it treats the little bits left in the pipe inhibiting they're growth, but not prohibiting it. It really is great stuff, it works. Yearly cleanings around here is too often. I've inspected over 20 sewers this year in the tri-state that required yearly cleanings and found serious problems that needed correction. I think both Rick and I can agree that a camera inspection is definitely something that is worth your money. Our company - Cincinnati based - charges $230 to snake the line and an extra $100 to camera it. Our camera price is promotional and dependent upon having it done within two weeks of cleaning the line. Our normal camera price is $220.


        • #5
          If you treat your lines with copper sulfate right after after having the line cabled it will provide you with some relief. You will just be killing the root ends and the roots may well continue growing. But it should allow time to budget for a line repair or replacement. Follow the manufacturers instructions.

          Often removing the offending tree is an option but the roots may continue to grow for up to 4 years after the tree is removed unless you "kill" the stump.

          If you only have the line cabled once a year you may decide to just figure that as an annual maintenance expense for awhile. One old codger in my home town did that for nearly 15 years before he decided to repair the line. He just didn't want the mess in the yard and felt it was worth having the line cabled once a year to avaoid it.
          Work hard, Play hard, Sleep easy.


          • #6
            If it makes you feel any better, I have a customer who pays me to do it every three months. Commercial building $20000 bid to repair the pipe, but they don't want to do that yet. To them it's just the cost of doing business. To me they have a piece of rebar that was poked through the pipe.


            • #7
              copper sulfate will kill roots if the chemical is exposed to the root ends. here is the issue. roots typically come in from the top of the pipe. (this is a know fact from hundreds of camera inspections.) copper sulfate needs to get absorbed into the roots to be effective. if the roots are at the top, and the chemical is laying at the bottom of the pipe, then it won't get absorbed until the roots are so bad that they hang into the flow line. (lower 1/3).

              root-x is a foaming product. it foams up like whip cream upon mixing with water in the pipe. this will get the chemical to the roots at top.

              best time to treat for roots is within 2 hours of cutting, or at least 6 weeks after cutting. there is a period of time that the roots will sap over and chemical will not absorb. sort of like a cut and a scab. roots grow best in early spring.

              theron, $20,000 for removing a piece of rebar poking through a sewer line? what kind of repair is needed?

              phoebe it is


              • #8
                Three day dig job in the middle of a busy intersection. 8 ft below the surface of the road. Safety company, rent-a-cops, saw cut, blacktop company, our backhoe and dump truck, shoring. Unbelievably, the city will not do this job, they claim that BP gas station owns the commmon lateral all the way out into the intersection.


                • #9
                  theron, how about a pipe liner? the rebar can be cut out with a modified root saw. a diamond cutter can be installed on the front end to cut out the rebar.

                  phoebe it is


                  • #10
                    I didn't bid the repair, I just snake it every couple months. They did look into the relining option, and determined it was too big - 8". I know our relining equipment is limited to 6", but i was not aware up to that time that relining has a size limitation. Are you saying that there is something i can put on the cable that will cut through the rebar and the crushed portion of pipe? I have a k-7500, can it be done with that machine? I also have a sectional at my disposal.


                    • #11
                      theron, a cable machine is not the one to use. a hydraulic root saw wth a diamond core bit will cut the rebar. i assume that the pipe is clay in the street. the pipe should be broken, but not crushed.
                      the bar should be cut out, then jetted clean. then a liner can be installed in that section.

                      it would be interesting to see a picture of that.

                      the national sewer/ pumper cleaner trade show is in nashville in february. there are a number of companies there that can supply the necessary tools and equiptment.

                      phoebe it is


                      • #12
                        I'll see if i can wrangle a hold of the tape for that line and post a picture of the problem area. Where can i find more information about that show?