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  • Advice on chronic root problem

    Hi all, my first post here. I am not a plumber but have been reading this thread for a little while to learn what I can from you all and have appreciated the expertise I have seen displayed in this group.
    I have a mid- 60s home that has a finished basement below grade with standard 2% grade (1 in/4ft) running about 70 feet from the in-basement CO to the city sewer.
    I have had about 4 major backups in the last 4 years (have only owned the home for about 4 years). They usually come with no warning. I believe they are being caused as a result of a group of Rhododendrons that has invaded the main line at about 30' from the CO and about 4' from the foundation of the house. I have already invested close to $1000 in cleaning/sewage line fees.
    This last backup was the worst but similar to what usually happens- the washing machine is running a load of laundry and the backup occurs due to a blockage at this same point- with no warning. The water then runs out of the shower (as this is at the lowest point) and floods the basement with 20-30 gallons. Then- bring on the wetvac and hours of work cleaning floors and carpets!
    I have called a plumber in each time this has happened- have tried a few different companies, but this last time I asked if we could camera the line first and see what is going on- which this guy was happy to do. What we found is what I have already described, a root (not really a ball but a hard knot of wood-root mass) in the upper half of the pipe.
    The pipe at this point has gone from cast iron (under the house slab) to asbestos concrete and the root has caused a small crack to develop. This is not at a sectional seam and there did not look to be much of an offset or deviation due to the crack- although I cannot say how much is significant either. We camera'd the rest of the line which looked clean with no other root problems or blockages.
    The rest of the pipe looked to be in good shape and smooth but has a groove running in the bottom from the years of water flowing though -perhaps between 1/4 and 1/2 in deep. The plumber noted this and said it might be time to think about replacing the line due to this wear. He also said he did not think he could do anything to cut this root as his cutter blades would just flail away against this heavy root and unlikely do anything. He felt that this would just continue to destroy the line even if I attempted to remove the offending plants. He did mark the blockage and depth (30 ft and 6'9" down) and marked the whole rest of the line with paint on the ground (and depths marked as well) all the way to the street.
    He unplugged the mass of paper lodged against the root and said he felt bad but there was not much else he could do.
    I have read that I could drill a hole down to about 2 ft above the line and install a section of PVC pipe and cap it. I could then fill this about 1/2 full with copper sulfate and pour in a few gallons of hot water to get the mixture down to the roots that have entered the line. This is supposed to get the plants roots to move away from the area soaked with the copper and needs to be repeated at regular intervals each season to prevent reinfestation.
    I this a reasonable plan or perhaps just remove the 40 year old Plants altogether? Maybe just find someone to come out who is more confident in their skills at removing a root of this type and follow up with Root X? Or, is the only real option to dig up the line and replace this section? As I see it the replacement option is a last resort and would likely involve cutting the asbestos concrete with a concrete saw and having to deal with the asbestos? I have also heard about relining with epoxy liner (these all sound expensive!).
    I have even considered buying a K60 or something similar and learning to use it! This seems like a crazy thing to do but I have always been a stubborn do it yourself type and really have an interest in getting a more permanent solution that does not involve spending my future retirement income on more housecalls, and worse yet more flooded basements...
    I appreciate any feedback you guys may offer!

  • #2
    Re: Advice on chronic root problem

    any time roots make their way into a line the final solution is replacement, everything else will just be a bandaid, Granted that bandaid can last for many years.

    Do remember that your home is an investment, any money put into the upkeep of it isn't cutting into your retirement savings, it is protecting it.

    you can try having a competent plumber with a properly sized root cutter have a go at it, then remember to run rootx periodically, starting a week or two after the drain cleaning, this might help protect your basement.
    No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Advice on chronic root problem

      Chances are that the root mass is entering the pipe from the transition or there may be a test tee in this area where it is not uncommon to have roots entering from above. The groove you describe running down the pipe is an indication of an old line. If it was my house, I would wait for the weather to get better and dig up this particular section replacing a minimum of three feet on the cast side while installing back to back clean outs. Probably not a great idea for a do it yourselfer based on the depth.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Advice on chronic root problem

        Welcome to the forum and thank you for your service.

        Once you have a void in your lateral you will always have a void in the lateral. You can do temporary things like chemicals to kill roots or even removing the offending plant/tree. However, at the end of the day you still have a void in your lateral and you will have continuing problems until it is replaced. If you decide not to replace it you will have to disclose the problem to the buyer when you sell your home. Another alternative is you could go in now and replace the lateral with a properly installed plastic lateral and never have another problem with it in your life time. If it is in a planted area this should be a no-brainer for you. If there is a lot of hard-scape to take into consideration you may want to look at a lining.

        Mark
        "Somewhere a Village is Missing Twelve Idiots!" - Casey Anthony

        I never lost a cent on the jobs I didn't get!

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Advice on chronic root problem

          Thanks for the advice RP and MJ...hmm... Anybody have much to say about the option of pulling the plants or installing the vertical pipe conduit above the line to soak the soil with copper in the vicinity of the roots? If I have to replace this pipe, the plants will be pulled anyways so that is going to happen regardless in any more permanent solution. Seems I have nothing to lose in trying it.
          I agree that maybe I should find someone really experienced to have a go at the root in the line. How do you go about finding someone with a high level of skill in root removal? Just calling Rotorooter seems like a gamble and as I said the plumber I called did have a cutter and lots of heavy snakes and did not want to even give it a go.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Advice on chronic root problem

            Thanks ToUtahNow,
            yes I am certain a new lateral is the best option. Unfortunately I may have to weigh the cost as only about 1/2 the run is in a planted area (around probably 35 feet. The remaining 35 feet or so is under concrete and pavement out under the sidewalk and street.
            I am guessing this will cost many thousands of dollars. There is also the fact that this house really probably needs a complete re-plumbing job as the 1/2' galvanized piping has really begun to show its age- resulting in at least a 50% reduced flow in the upstairs kitchen.
            Man, I need a great plumber for all of this- and need to set some priorities...
            Thanks again..
            Last edited by velvetsteele41; 02-01-2009, 07:36 PM.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Advice on chronic root problem

              You should see if anyone in your area can reline your lateral. Depending on the cost compared to replacing it may be something to look into.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Advice on chronic root problem

                Originally posted by velvetsteele41 View Post
                Anybody have much to say about the option of pulling the plants or installing the vertical pipe conduit above the line to soak the soil with copper in the vicinity of the roots?
                that will still be a temporary solution, and really hard on anything you ever want to grow in that area again. as for finding a good plumber, ask some friends/relatives/co-workers, Someone has had to call a plumber.
                No, it's not rocket science, it's plumbing and unlike rocket science it requires a license.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Advice on chronic root problem

                  I don't think that the root caused the crack, as you described. It is more likely that a crack formed in the old deteriorated pipe and the root is now exploiting this source of water. You can stunt it's growth with chemicals, and yearly cleanings but it will never stop growing towards this source of water.

                  If you have to dig 4 ft 9 inch down (2ft above the line) to try the copper trick, you might as well go the other two and replace the pipe.

                  Like MoJo said, the best solution will be to replace the pipe.

                  Otherwise you'll be stuck applying band-aids to a gunshot wound.

                  Lenny

                  Pronounced A-Bear Drain Care

                  I know, it doesn't make sense.


                  http://www.hebertdraincare.com

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Advice on chronic root problem

                    it's easy to rent a gas auger and drill a hole right ontop of the line at the root mass.

                    it's cheap enough and a do it your self fix.

                    personally i've never tried this, but do own a gas auger and it's a simple hole to drill as long as you don't hit any other lines.

                    it will take some time to actually kill off the roots, so you still want root-x in the line.

                    now you could always call in ben/ gearjunky, he's a seabee

                    the other way is a spot repair with a "fernco" repair patch. it's a 2' section of liner and will seal that crack. but first you need it properly cleaned out and re- camered.

                    see if you can contact "fernco" for an installer in your area.

                    good luck and keep us posted of your results. it's nice to have follow up to these type of problems

                    in the mean time , use your footage from the video to properly concentrate the cutters on this spot. just like fishing and this is the spot that's biting

                    rick.
                    phoebe it is

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Advice on chronic root problem

                      I agree with Rick.
                      I have installed a few pipe patches under these exact circumstances.
                      Roots/deterioration is common at the change over from cast to another type of pipe. It sounds like the rest of the pipe is in good condition, so relining the entire pipe would be unnecessary.

                      If you look into the Pipe Patch, go here www.S1Eonline.com (Source One Environmental) as they have just recently bought the rights to this product from Fernco.

                      If I'm not mistaken, Haycad (forum member) installs the Pipe Patch and he is in WA (not sure how far from you) Camas or something like that
                      Last edited by Gene Bickford; 02-02-2009, 10:40 AM.
                      INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
                      Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Advice on chronic root problem

                        Originally posted by Gene Bickford View Post
                        I agree with Rick.
                        I have installed a few pipe patches under these exact circumstances.
                        Roots/deterioration is common at the change over from cast to another type of pipe. It sounds like the rest of the pipe is in good condition, so relining the entire pipe would be unnecessary.

                        If you look into the Pipe Patch, go here www.S1Eonline.com (Source One Environmental) as they have just recently bought the rights to this product from Fernco.

                        If I'm not mistaken, Haycad (forum member) installs the Pipe Patch and he is in WA (not sure how far from you) Camas or something like that

                        This looks interesting and would be an easy sale compared to digging. Do you know how this resin stands up to a cable with cutter head for future regular blockage cleanings?

                        Scratch that, I'm watching a video of a guy trying to break it with a sledge hammer.

                        Watched the other videos. No room for error with that system.
                        Last edited by HebertDrainCare; 02-02-2009, 07:13 PM.

                        Lenny

                        Pronounced A-Bear Drain Care

                        I know, it doesn't make sense.


                        http://www.hebertdraincare.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Advice on chronic root problem

                          Originally posted by HebertDrainCare View Post
                          This looks interesting and would be an easy sale compared to digging. Do you know how this resin stands up to a cable with cutter head for future regular blockage cleanings?

                          Scratch that, I'm watching a video of a guy trying to break it with a sledge hammer.

                          Watched the other videos. No room for error with that system.

                          Yes,not much room for error but it's pretty easy place it exactly where you want it within an 1". They do make a 4' patch now, but I'd like to see a 3'.
                          INSIGHT PIPE is now Maine Drain Serving most of ME with no charge for travel! 207-431-6232 is nolonger a working # our NEW # is 207-355-1476
                          Sewer main snaking (roto rooting). Sink clogs. Sewer backup. Pipe inspection/locating. No Dig trenchless repair. Root clog removal.We are NOT to replace your local Plumber, as we do not do plumbing. WE ARE YOUR DRAIN CLEANING EXPERTS!!! www.sewermaine.com waterville winslow bangor augusta skowhegan fairfield pittsfield oakland

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Advice on chronic root problem

                            I also agree with Rick. I install the pipe patch on a regular basis in pipe sizes from 3" to 10" and it is a great fool proof process.

                            It is often to cover points of root intrusion and breaks in the line causing infiltration.

                            Find an installer in your area for this type of technology and it should solve your problem.
                            www.firstresponsedrain.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Advice on chronic root problem

                              i install it and i am just down the road from you p.m. me
                              Mike
                              Clark County Plumbing And Drain
                              www.plumbinginclarkcounty.com

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