Closeup big tree root

How to Get Rid of Roots in Your Sewer Pipes

Trees can provide shade and enhance your property’s curb appeal, but, beneath the surface, those same trees could be causing a serious problem for your home’s plumbing system. Tree roots in sewer pipes are a common and potentially costly issue that many homeowners face.

Understanding the Root Problem

Tree roots are naturally drawn to the moisture and nutrients found in sewer lines. Over time, these roots can infiltrate your pipes through small cracks or joints, leading to blockages, backups, and even pipe collapse.

Potential consequences of untreated root problems:

  • Complete pipe blockage
  • Sewage backups into your home
  • Pipe collapse requiring full replacement
  • Damage to your property’s foundation
  • Health hazards from exposure to raw sewage

Tree roots commonly gain access to sewer lines through small cracks resulting from age or soil movement, as well as through loose joints between pipe sections or pre-existing breaks or damage within the pipe.

Of course, since sewer lines are usually buried underground, the issue of tree roots can go unnoticed for a long time. Here are some of the signs of root intrusion in your pipes.

  • Slow-draining drains
  • Gurgling sounds
  • Sewage backups
  • Sinkholes or wet spots

While these signs are suggestive, they can also have other causes. To confirm a root intrusion, you’ll need a professional inspection. A plumber might use a small camera inserted into the sewer line to see the inside directly or do a dye test.

DIY Root Removal Techniques

A man removes roots in sewer pipes in Lakeland

If you suspect tree roots are invading your sewer pipes, there are several DIY techniques you can try before calling in a professional. These methods can help you manage the problem in its early stages and potentially save you time and money.

Chemical Treatments

Chemical treatments are one of the most accessible and effective ways for homeowners to tackle minor root intrusions in their sewer pipes.

  • Copper sulfate: Effective but potentially harmful to the environment
  • Foaming root killers: More targeted application, less environmental impact
  • Rock salt: A natural alternative, but may damage surrounding vegetation

Mechanical Methods

If chemical treatments aren’t sufficient, mechanical methods offer another effective approach to clearing roots from your sewer pipes.

  • Plumbing augers or drain snakes: Effective for minor root intrusions
  • High-pressure water jetting: Clears roots and debris from pipes
  • Rental equipment considerations: Proper training and safety precautions are essential

Natural Remedies

If you’re how to kill tree roots in my sewer line without harming the environment, there are several natural remedies that might help you keep your sewer lines clear. (It’s worth noting, however, that natural methods are generally less effective for severe root problems.)wondering

  • Baking soda and vinegar: May help with minor root issues
  • Rock salt and boiling water: Can be effective but may harm nearby plants

When to Call a Professional for Root Intrusion

roots plant with green background

If DIY methods don’t help, it’s highly recommended that you consult a professional plumbing service as soon as possible. Plumbers or sewer specialists have the specialized equipment and expertise needed to address the problem of tree roots in a sewer line effectively.

Here are the main professional roof removal methods:

Mechanical Cutting

Mechanical cutting uses a rotating blade or cutter attached to a flexible cable to clear roots from the sewer line. This method is highly effective for severe root problems and can restore normal flow. However, follow-up maintenance, such as chemical root inhibitors, is necessary to prevent regrowth.


Hydro-jetting employs high-pressure water streams to clear roots and debris from sewer lines. This method not only removes blockages but also cleans the interior of the pipes, helping to prevent future issues. A camera inspection often follows to ensure the pipes are clear and undamaged.

Chemical Treatments

Professional chemical treatments use stronger, industrial-grade root-killing solutions. These include:

  • Foaming Root Killers: Expands through the pipe, ensuring thorough coverage.
  • Herbicide Treatments: Stronger formulations that kill roots without damaging pipes.
  • Copper-Based Solutions: Highly effective but must be used carefully to avoid soil contamination.

A follow-up inspection is recommended to ensure all roots are eradicated and to plan periodic maintenance.

Pipe Relining

Pipe relining is a trenchless method that inserts a resin-coated liner into the damaged pipe, creating a new, durable pipe within the old one. This minimally invasive method strengthens the existing pipe structure and prevents future root intrusions. Although more costly, it offers long-term durability and reduced property disruption.

By consulting a professional, you can ensure that the root intrusion is effectively managed and prevent future problems.

Prevention Methods

Of course, preventing roots from intruding in your sewer lines is the best idea. Here are a few suggestions that will help:

  • Be mindful of landscaping. When planning your yard, consider the location of your sewer lines and avoid planting trees or shrubs with extensive root systems near them.
  • Regular maintenance. Schedule annual or bi-annual sewer line inspections and maintenance to catch any potential issues before they become severe. Regular cleanings can also help prevent roots from growing back.
  • Consider root barriers. If you have existing trees with aggressive root systems near your sewer lines, installing a physical barrier between the tree and the pipes can help prevent intrusion. These barriers are typically made of metal, plastic, or other durable materials that redirect roots away from the pipes.
  • Be cautious with chemical treatments. While professional-grade root-killing chemicals are more effective, they also carry a higher risk of environmental damage. Make sure to follow all instructions carefully and use them sparingly to prevent long-term harm.
  • Choose trenchless pipe solutions. If you’re installing new sewer lines or replacing damaged ones, consider trenchless methods like pipe relining that can minimize disturbance to your property and reduce the likelihood of future root intrusions.

Your Florida Plumbing Experts

From free plumbing estimates to skilled plumbing services, Stronghold Plumbing & Septic is the answer. Our licensed and insured plumbing company is committed to your satisfaction, so when you need a Lakeland plumber, call the best – Stronghold!

FAQ’s – Roots in Sewer Pipes

How do I know if there are tree roots in my sewer pipe?

Signs of root intrusion in sewer pipes include slow or clogged drains, gurgling sounds coming from your pipes, and sewage backups. You may also notice foul odors coming from your drains.

Can I remove tree roots myself?

Minor root intrusions can potentially be addressed with DIY methods such as chemical treatments or mechanical cutting. However, for severe root problems, it’s recommended to consult a professional plumber or sewer specialist.

How do professionals handle roots in pipes removal?

Professional methods for removing roots in sewer pipes include mechanical cutting, hydro-jetting, chemical treatments, and pipe relining. The best method will depend on the severity of the root intrusion and the condition of your pipes. Consult a professional for an accurate assessment and recommendation.

How can I prevent roots from growing in my sewer lines?

Being mindful of landscaping, scheduling regular maintenance and inspections, using root barriers, being cautious with chemical treatments, and considering trenchless pipe solutions can all help prevent root intrusions in your sewer lines.  It’s also important to address any existing trees or plants with aggressive root systems near your sewer lines.


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