Full Flow Plumbing & Drainage

how to clear tree roots from drains

How to Clear Tree Roots from Drains: Effective Removal Techniques

Tree roots seek moisture and will exploit any cracks or joints in pipes. This leads them to grow happily inside your drainage system creating obstructions that will eventually disrupt water flow. By the time you realise you’ve got tree roots in your sewer or home drains, the damage is usually done.

This is the point where, as professional plumbers, we recommend you give us a call. But if you’re curious to learn how to clear tree roots from drains yourself, and want to give this a go, here are some tips.

Table of Contents

The first step is identifying tree roots in your drains, which is often indicated by slow draining, gurgling noises, or recurring clogs.

Clearing roots from your drains can be approached in several ways, depending on the severity of the blockage. Mechanical methods, such as snaking, involve using a specialised tool to cut through the roots and clear the pipes. However, for a more thorough cleaning, techniques like hydro jetting provide a high-pressure water stream to remove roots and other debris from the drain.

Are You Sure It’s Tree Roots Blocking Your Drains?

Early detection of tree roots in your drainage system can save you from costly repairs. Here are some signs to look for:

Monitoring Drainage Patterns and Toilet Flushing

You should observe your drainage patterns and toilet flushing behaviour. If you notice that water is draining slowly or your toilet isn’t flushing with its usual vigour, it could indicate a blockage. A significant drop in water pressure signifies that roots may be constricting your pipes. It’s important to keep a log of any changes in drainage speed or toilet efficiency to tackle issues promptly.

Visual Inspection and Camera Analysis

Conduct a thorough visual inspection around your property for signs of intrusion, such as sinkholes or unusually green patches on your lawn. These could be due to extra moisture where roots have damaged water pipes. A professional camera inspection is invaluable as it allows you to view the inside of your drains. This process can highlight any clogs or root growths before they cause complete blockages.

Recognising Warning Sounds and Signs

Stay alert to warning sounds like gurgling noises coming from your toilets or sinks that indicate blockages. Regular gurgling sounds can be a sign of air being trapped due to root obstruction. Other signs to watch out for include water backing up in the sink or the presence of bad odours, which often point to drain issues. If you notice these symptoms, it suggests roots may be impinging on your drains, and action is required.

How to Clear Tree Roots from Drains

If you want to try tackling your tree root filled drains yourself, here are some tips:

Using Salt to Dehydrate Tree Roots

Rock salt acts as a natural desiccant, dehydrating tree roots that have infiltrated your pipes. This simple approach requires minimal effort: just flush a generous amount of rock salt down the toilet at night and let it work overnight.

Copper Sulphate is another effective root growth inhibitor you can find at most hardware stores. Its application helps to dissolve the roots over time without the need for immediate excavation. However, use it sparingly, as overuse can harm the surrounding soil and plant life.

Mechanical Removal Using Augers

Using a mechanical auger, also known as a rooter, is a direct approach to physically remove roots. These sturdy tools can slice through the intrusive roots within your drainage system. Gently guide the mechanical auger into the problematic pipe and use its rotating mechanism to cut through the roots. This technique requires some elbow grease but is incredibly efficient for clearing roots that lead to frequent drain backups.

High-Pressure Water Flushing with Hydro-Jetting

Hydro-jetting is an advanced method to eradicate roots, sediment, and grease clogging your pipes. The sheer force of the water is sufficient to clear nearly any obstruction while safeguarding the integrity of your pipes. Hydro-jetting stands out by not just removing the current blockage but also thoroughly cleaning the pipe’s interior, which helps in preventing future problems.

If you have access to a hydro jetting machine, you can try using this yourself. Alternatively, give the team a call at FullFlow Plumbing and Drainage. Our hydro jetter is suitable for all sizes of pipes, and capable of tackling tree roots with ease.

Professional Drain Clearing Services

As professional plumbers, when we encounter persistent or severe blockages caused by tree roots, we understand the necessity for professional drain clearing services. These services are customised to the specific requirements of each plumbing system, ensuring the work is carried out efficiently, safely, and with minimal disturbance to our clients.

We employ advanced mechanical and hydro-jet techniques to address these challenges effectively.

Mechanical snaking is one method we use, allowing us to cut through blockages with a motorized drain auger. This technique is designed to physically remove tree roots without harming the pipes. For a more comprehensive clean, we opt for hydro-jetting, which uses high-pressure water to eliminate the roots and clear any remaining debris.

It’s an exceptionally efficient method that deeply cleans the pipes.

Pipe Relining and Replacement Options

In situations where tree roots have caused more significant damage, pipe relining or replacement may be necessary. Pipe relining provides a less invasive option, where we insert a resin-coated liner into the damaged pipe, which then hardens to form a new pipe inside the old one, all without the need for excavation.

For more extensive tree root damage, replacing the pipe may be unavoidable, like in the image above. As you can see, the pipe runs in between two palm trees, and the roots of the palms cracked and destroyed the pipe.

We’ll thoroughly assess the condition and recommend the most appropriate course of action.

Expert Assessment and Long-term Solutions

Our expert assessment also includes gauging the extent of root growth and the overall health of your plumbing system accurately. From this assessment, we can propose long-term solutions, including routine maintenance plans to prevent future issues. By addressing the root causes of clogs and backups, we offer our clients effective preventive measures, safeguarding the longevity and integrity of their plumbing, drainage and sewer systems.

Preventing Future Root Problems

Planting trees a safe distance from plumbing and drainage lines isn’t always practical. If you know you have large tree roots near important drainage lines (like your sewer pipes), consider installing root barriers. These barriers redirect root growth away from your pipes, minimising the risk of intrusion and blockage.

Tree maintenance is another critical aspect of preventing future issues. Regular pruning and care guarantee that the trees near your drainage system grow in a controlled manner, reducing the risk of root intrusion. This is where understanding the nature of root growth comes into play. By identifying which trees have less aggressive root systems, you can plan your landscape to minimise future drainage solutions needs.

Incorporating drainage solutions that deter roots from seeking out your pipes as a water source can also be beneficial. For example, ensuring your sewer laterals are structurally sound and using high-pressure flushers regularly can help keep roots at bay.