How to remove tree roots from drains

how do you know if there are tree roots growing in drains? - KJC Drainage

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Apart from clogs and burst pipes, invasive tree roots in drain pipes, sewer pipes and sewer lines, are perhaps the next most common cause of blocked drains. Since tree roots grow at an exponential rate, removing tree roots can be quite common in areas with many trees. Thankfully, this is certainly a common issue that drainage professionals face when determining how to remove tree roots from drainage pipes.

The process to clear tree roots from a drain pipe involves a thorough inspection, either via snaking or a CCTV inspection to diagnose the extent of the problem in a drainage system. Drainage professionals can then use tools to kill tree roots, sever the roots, and flush them from the drainage system.

Are you currently experiencing this common problem? KJC Drainage can certainly help. In this overview, we will take a look at why roots grow through sewer lines. We will also go over some brief details on how we destroy the root invasion and remove the blocked drain issue. Read on to find out more.

Why are there tree roots growing in my drains?

Tree roots reach across a wide swath of the underground earth. Depending on the specific type of tree, its roots grow and push through the dirt below to expand at a maximum rate to ensure the tree can absorb enough moisture and nutrients to thrive.

Similar to roots, sewer laterals also run through the underground earth much in the same fashion, with the main exception being that these are inanimate objects and not living.

As you can probably already imagine, tree roots are not going to give way simply because sewer pipes are in place.

When roots from an offending tree and underground pipes meet, the forward momentum of the roots will keep pressing against the sewer pipes until the pipe completely ruptures from the root intrusion.

This is an example of a severe drain obstruction which will eventually require repairs to the pipe.

But the most common issue is that roots will find their way into drain openings and as the roots continue to grow from the surrounding plants, this will cause the pipes to become blocked. This is what leads to blockages or backups into the home.

What are the impacts on drain pipes?

If root removal is not addressed, the roots will continue growing, which is why addressing the problem early from the first signs of a blockage is highly beneficial.

New roots, be it from smaller or larger trees, will continue to multiply in the sewer lines until the sewer lines themselves become severely blocked.

This will increase the time and procedures for adequately addressing root removal from the sewer line. As mentioned, strong roots can burst through a sewer pipe and a temporary fix that may have only taken a few hours suddenly becomes a major project.

This also creates a larger problem with the backup of wastewater into the ground and pipe overflows.

Here are just some impacts on the drainage system from unattended tree roots if left untreated:

  • Burst pipes
  • Possible malfunction of the surrounding sewer system
  • Bacteria buildup from pipes draining slowly
  • Pipe constriction leads to loose joint issues
  • Decrease in water pressure thanks to a loose joint

Regular cleaning of your pipes and remembering to avoid planting new trees near drain pipes are good preventative measures, but the fact of the matter is you will never truly know a root issue is occurring until you experience issues.

Unless of course you opt for regular CCTV screening to monitor the health of your plumbing system.

All it takes is one tiny crack in the sewer line to allow roots to start entering the system and causing blockages. But there are ways to know for sure if this is happening.

How do you know if there are tree roots growing in drains?

One sure way to know that roots are possibly growing in your system, is if you start to experience minor drain blockages inside the house. The shower may start to back up or take forever to drain completely.

This is even after you try some quick remedies to address possible hair or grime deposits from other debris.

If the same issue keeps occurring with nothing that moves the needle, a root blockage may in fact be the culprit.

Furthermore, if you are starting to notice sinkholes outside, especially near known sewer lines, which may be a severe sign of a root issue. This typically means the roots have burst a pipe and the overflow is starting to weaken the foundation of the ground and soil.

Another sign is a bad odour that permeates inside around drains or outdoors near sewer lines. This is also a bad sign since it means the roots have obstructed the pipes and seepage is starting to rise to the surface causing a foul, copper sulfate-type of smell.

You may also notice tissue paper outdoors or more commonly, backing up into the toilet or even the shower in the house.

Certain types of roots have more destructive power and forward momentum than others, which means the larger ones are the root types that draw the most nutrients, including from wastewater thanks to organic material within them.

These are the types of root systems that can cause the most damage more quickly.

With all of this in mind, what are some effective ways for removing roots from a pipe?

getting rid of tree roots in drains- KJC Drainage


Getting rid of them

First things first, trying to kill roots with weed killer, rock salt, copper sulphate, sodium chloride, or even warm water is not very efficient. Weed killers can even lead to dangerous backups of toxic chemicals into the home and the surrounding environment.

This is why manual removal is the most tried and true method for a plumbing tree root problem. Drain jetting is by far one of the essential elements of plumbing that is best for clearing roots from a pipe.

Drain jetting is a procedure that uses high-pressure water to clear out blocked drains, as well as for proper cleaning of a drainage system.

Drain jetting is simple in its concept, yet there are many processes that must be adhered to for an effective drain jet procedure to be successful, including having proper jetting equipment when clearing out root systems.

But there are also great results seen with simply snaking the line, which is typically all that is needed if the roots are small and intrusive inside of the pipes.

This procedure can effectively break up the system into small, tiny pieces which can be dragged out of the drainage system, and in most circumstances, will immediately solve the problem.

But if a pipe has burst from the force of a root, this is a bit more extensive. Drain relining is a process that is a bit more cost-effective for repairing the damage caused by invasive roots.

This procedure can be performed to repair the damaged pipes with the aid of CCTV which pinpoints the exact locations of the obstructions.

Our technicians can then get to work threading resin throughout the entire damaged pipe to patch the holes and provide years of effective drainage and flow without the need for costly, time-consuming excavation.

There are many procedures that can be considered, and our team can do a full assessment to offer you suggestions on the best procedures to fully address and fix the problem.


Tree roots are a common problem in plumbing and can cause either minimal disruption or the complete collapse of essential pipes.

At KJC Drainage, our team of technicians has many years of experience to align the best fix for the problem that also meets the needs of what you determine to be the best solution for you.

Contact us today, and let us know how we can help.

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