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Roots in Pipes

Can Roto-Rooter trim the roots out of my storm water lateral?

We can trim the roots out of any pipe that is constructed of cast iron, plastic (schedule 32 or heavier) and clay tile pipe. If the storm pipe is made of corrugated iron or some other thin wall pipe, the blades on our machines could go through the pipe. We would have to evaluate the pipe to determine the best course of action.

How can I control roots in my pipes?

If roots have entered your pipes, a Roto-Rooter technician can remove the roots by using powerful cutting blades. Your technician will recommend the application of Roto-Rooter® RootX to retard future root growth. Roto-Rooter® RootX will kill only the roots in the pipes and will not affect the rest of your tree's root system.

Simply pour the recommended dosage into your toilet bowl and flush the product into the line twice each year.

Roto-Rooter® RootX is available only from your service technician or your local Roto-Rooter branch.

How do roots grow?

Tree and shrub roots require oxygen and water to grow. Their growth rate is variable and is affected by the soil depth, water supply, aeration, mineral supply and temperature.

Root systems are made up of large, permanent roots for support and stabilization, and many small, temporary feeder root and root hairs. These small roots are the primary water and nutrient absorbers. Most roots can be found in the top 6 to 18 inches of soil, where water, nutrients and oxygen are found.

Roots generally extend up to two or three times the height of the tree, but can extend as far as seven times the height of the tree. Large, mature trees may have thousands of feet of root system searching for nutrients. Roots will be less extensive in clay soils than in sandy or well-drained soils.

How does weather impact root growth?

During drought conditions and in the winter, roots will travel long distances in search of moisture. The reason you find tree roots in sewer lines and drains is because when trees and shrubs get thirsty, they follow the trail of moisture vapors escaping from small cracks, holes, or poorly sealed joints in pipes, where they find nutrients and moisture.

Is there a point when de-rooting the drain line will no longer work?

Yes. The reason you have to de-root drain lines is because the roots have entered the pipes through holes in the joints. Each time you cut off the roots on the inside of the pipe, the root in the joint remains. Every year that root gets bigger, and bigger and as it does, it puts pressure on the inside of the joint. Just the way roots growing inside a rock on the mountain side eventually break the rock, the roots in the joints eventually break the pipe and the dirt from the outside begins the flow into the pipe. It's an important step to have your drain line camera inspected. Once you see the condition of the inside of the pipe and the amount of roots in your drain or sewer line, you can begin to plan for that day when you will have to replace it.

We suspect we have tree roots clogging our drain tile around the exterior perimeter of house. What do you recommend for this problem?

It all depends on the material type. It may be clay, PVC or thin wall plastic corrugated tubing. Roots get into pipes and then widen the opening as they grow. We can't use a drain snake inside thin wall corrugated pipe but we can on the other types of pipe. Drain tile pipe is perforated pipe with openings every couple of inches and on all sides. That means hundreds of openings capture rain and ground water and divert it to your sump pump where it can be pumped out to the storm sewer. If the roots inside the pipes are very fine, we may be able to jet them out with a high-pressure water jet system. The best thing to do is to run a camera down the line to examine the damage and determine the type of pipe you have. Roto-Rooter can provide all of these services.

What happens when roots get inside lines?

If not disturbed, the roots will completely fill the pipe with multiple hair-like root masses at each point of entry. The root masses quickly become clogged with toilet tissue, grease and other debris flowing from homes and businesses to the main sewer, resulting in reduced flow and slowed drains. A complete blockage may occur if the roots are not removed and root growth impeded.

Once roots have entered the pipe, they continue to grow and expand, exerting considerable pressure at the crack or joint. The increased pressure often breaks the pipe and may result in total collapse, which requires repair or replacement.

Some pipe materials are more susceptible to root intrusion than others. Clay tile pipe is easily penetrated and damaged by tree roots. Concrete pipe and PVC pipe may also allow root intrusion, but to a lesser extent than clay pipe. PVC pipe usually has fewer joints and because those joints are tightly fitted, they are less likely to leak as a result of settlement around the pipe.