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Tree roots in drain

How To Clear Tree Roots From Drains


Trees are a great asset to have on your property. Trees look great and offer shade on your property as well as offer shelter for wildlife. Some of the other benefits of having trees on your property could be:

  • Trees Can Increase Property Value – Professional landscaping with trees and plants can help to increase your property value by as much as 20%!

  • Trees Clean the Air – Trees absorb carbon dioxide every day and produce oxygen allowing the air around your home to be cleaner.

  • They Help With Noise Pollution – Strategically placed trees can help negate loud noises coming from your surrounding neighbourhood.

  • Great Wind shields – Trees can make fantastic wind shields for your property as they can protect your property or other buildings from wind damage.

But it is not all a silver lining when you have trees on your property. Unfortunately, tree roots enjoy finding their way into sewer and stormwater drains which often leads to blocked & damaged pipes. ... Subscribe below to read this article

In this article:

  • What Happens If A Tree Makes Its Way Into The Pipe System?
  • How Do You Prevent Trees Roots From Entering The Pipes?
  • Time For Professional Drain Cleaning Help
  • How Does Pipe Relining Work?
  • Blocked Drain FAQs:
    • What Can You Put Down the Drain To Kill Tree Roots?
    • How To Remove Tree Roots From Drain Pipes
    • How Do You Dissolve Roots In Drains?
    • How To Keep Roots Out Of Drain Pipes


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How To Clear Tree Roots From Drains
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Roots grow fast inside of pipes because it is a favourable environment. Sewer pipes carry water that are full of nutrients & oxygen which are essential elements for trees to grow and flourish.

If the pipe in question has cracks, the water will seep out into the soil. Wet soil acts as a guide for the root system of a tree and once they find the crack, the roots will get in and completely take over the drainage.


What Happens If A Tree Makes Its Way Into The Pipe System?


If a tree manages to root its way into your pipes, you can be looking at some major problems down the line. Within a short time, the roots are going to start catching everything you flush such as grit, tissue paper, grease, oils and pretty much anything else you put down the sink or toilet. Eventually the tree root system is going to block the entire section of pipe which is going to cause the pipes to start backing up. When left unchecked, kitchen and toilet waste will back up which can lead to flooding the home causing property damage and other health risks.

You can normally tell when a drain is starting to block up as the water will move down the sink quite slowly. This is normally a tell-tale sign that your drain is being affected by invasive tree roots. A slow-moving drain usually produces a gurgling sound from the sink or toilet bowl. This is normally the point where you need to take action otherwise a total blockage is most likely going to happen.

Once a total blockage happens, the tree roots will have to be removed from the pipe and your pipe is most likely very damaged which will require a replacement or pipe relining service. This particular task is not easy, you will need to find a professional (like Jetset Plumbing) to do the job that uses high tech drain clearing technology. This is normally in the form of a root cutter.


How Do You Prevent Trees Roots From Entering The Pipes?


First, it is important to know where your sewer cleanout pipe and the laterals are located on the property. If you know where they are, the best prevention method is now to avoid planting certain types of plants, trees & hedges in the area. Trees should be planted at least 3m (10ft) away from the sewer pipes to avoid root intrusion. If this is not a possibility and you still want to plant trees on the property, it is best to choose slower growing trees that have non-aggressive root systems.

However, if trees are already a part of the property, they are most likely going to cause issues to the pipes. The best solution here is to make sure your pipes are always clear via regular cleaning. One of the most common solutions to clearing roots from a blocked drain is with high pressure flushers or root saws. Keeping this done regularly is one of the best prevention methods for already existing trees.

Making sure your sewer laterals are structurally sound at all times is a vital method of root penetration prevention. If your pipes have any structural damage, a hairline crack or other small entry points, the tree roots WILL FIND THEIR WAY INTO YOUR DOWNPIPES. If the drain already has the roots in it, you are going to need to get a professional to clear it.


Tree roots inside a drain

Time For Professional Drain Cleaning Help


If roots have penetrated your drain, you are going to need to hire a professional plumber with experience in root cutting technologies. There are heaps of DIY methods online but unfortunately, they omst likely will not work. Potentially, they could slow progress of the roots, but unless you can repair the crack in the drain itself, it will keep coming back.

Jetset Plumbing use drain cameras to identify where the roots are, followed by a root cutter to remove the roots completely. There is also a pipe relining service which is an easy, non-invasive way to fixed damaged piped without the need for digging up your yard.


How Does Pipe Relining Work?


If you have been doing some research into pipe relining systems, you have probably seen quite a few different types. But they are not all the same. One of the main differences you must be looking at is how the product actually flows into the joints and cracks of the pipe before it sets. This makes sure the pipe has a secure seal. Most of the inferior pipe relining kits don’t have this correct seal and they tend to leave a gap which just mean the roots are going to return.

Here is how the team at Jetset Plumbing perform their pipe relining service:


  1. Using a high pressure 5000 PSI drain cleaner, we remove all obstructions from the pipe such as tree roots, debris and anything else in the way.
  2. Utilising a CCTV drain camera, we inspect the drain looking for any problems such as holes & cracks in the pipe.
  3. A custom-made bladder and liner is inserted into the drain and placed over the damaged section of the pipe.
  4. The bladder is then inflated with compressed air causing it to expand and force the epoxy resin filled liner to bond internally to the pipe. Once the liner cures, it becomes solid and is around 4x stronger than the original pipe.
  5. Once the liner has been cured, we remove the bladder leaving the newly created pipe set in place.
  6. We use the CCTV camera one last time to make sure the pipe is ready for full use.

This method of clearing drains is non-invasive and good for the environment. There is no disturbing or digging of soil, no use of heavy chemicals or any other non-environmentally friendly way of clearing the drain.

Pipe relining is by far the best and most effective way to unblock a drain and repair it from root damage. Older pipes are by far more susceptible to root damage and really should be upgraded to newer pipes such as PVC, which have a longer life and tent to be much more resistant to root damage.


6 Steps To Jetset's Pipe Relining Process

Blocked Drain FAQs


As unblocking drains are quite a topic for discussion, we have put together an FAQ list based on solving blocked drains.

Thick tree roots blocking a drain

There are many home remedies you will find online when it comes to destroying tree roots from your drains. But do any of them actually work? Here are some of the more common solutions you will find online:

  1. Using Rock Salt:
    • PROS - Rock salt can kill roots by drying them out. The method involves pouring around 1kg of rock salt into your toilet and flushing. Repeat this 3 or 4 times and leave the toilet alone for 8-12 hours. Rock salt is quite poisonous to plants and tree roots. Doing this a couple of times a month can help with tree roots in the pipe.
    • CONS – This method is going to most likely kill your tree and surrounding plants. It is also not going to fix the crack in the pipe that the roots are coming through. Once you stop using the rock salt, the roots are going to come straight back. The other big issue with salt is causing the pipes to erode or rust. The salt will gradually eat away your pipes causing an even bigger issue than the original tree roots.
  2. Using Weed Killer:
    • PROS – Using weed killer is an effective way of killing roots and anything flora and fauna related. The idea is similar to the above rock salt solution. Flush it down the toilet a couple of times to ensure it is in the sewer and leave for 8-12 hours.
    • CONS – Weed killer is designed to destroy plants, weeds and roots. So, the offending tree is most likely going to die from this method. If it does not die, the roots are coming straight back once they can. This is more a temporary fix and if you have a decent leak in your sewage pipe the poison will spread throughout your yard. Depending on what you buy, the poison may not be strong enough either to kill all the roots, so they will just regrow and persist.
  3. Using Copper Sulphate:
    • PROS – Copper Sulphate is toxic to tree roots. Similar to the above 2 options, pour half a cup of copper sulphate crystals into your drain and flush. Repeat the process after 10 minutes. Flush again 2-3 times to make sure the copper sulphate is getting to the blockage.
    • CONS – Copper Sulphate is not just toxic to tree roots, it’s toxic to people and animals as well. If you are fliushing it down the toilet, you are best to leave your home for a few hours to not inhale any toxic fumes that will be present. If you have pets you should remove them from the house as well. While it is only mildly irritating to people, it can be extremely toxic to pets. It is also vital to check the legalities of flushing copper sulphate in your area. This chemical is extremely toxic to fish and aquatic environments so if your pipeline exits into a habited area, be prepared to face the consequences.

    One extremely important factor to remember when applying any home solution method is just because the roots have been killed, does not mean they have been removed. Killing roots is one thing, but the underlining issue is not if they are alive or dead, but how thick they are and how much drain they are blocking. DEAD ROOTS STILL BLOCK PIPES AND DRAINS.

Jetset Plumbing using a high-pressure drain cutter

Removing tree roots from drain pipes can be an extremely difficult task if you do not have the right equipment. It is one thing to kill the roots, but it’s another thing entirely to remove them altogether.

If you are not interested in finding where the roots are, digging down to the pipe, opening the pipe up and manually removing the offending roots, you are going to need a professional plumber who specialises in blocked drains.

A professional blocked drains plumber will use a CCTV Camera to go down the pipe and find the offending roots. From here a 5000 PSI Drain Cutter will remove all offending roots in the path. With this kind of pressure, the jets just cut straight through the roots removing them from the pipe.

Once the roots are removed, you can look at a pipe relining service, so the same issue does not reoccur.


Unfortunately, there is nothing really that will dissolve the roots without harming other parts of you pipeline. Once a root system is dead, the roots generally hang around which really does not help the blockage issue. The most efficient way to remove a root system from a pipe is using a high-pressure root cutter. This will need to be done by a professional.

Remember, just because you killed the roots, it will not mean they disappear and there is no real effective way to just “dissolve” them.


Prevention is the best way to keep tree roots out of your drain pipes. Trees are attracted to drains, especially sewer drains as it is a buffet of nutrients, oxygen and water, all the things tree roots crave.

If possible do not plant trees (especially with aggressive roots) close to your drains. The tree will naturally send out roots towards a water source and if you have a leak, even a minor one, you are giving the tree a roadmap to the entry point of your drains.

If this form of prevention is not really suitable (presumably trees are already planted and matured) then your best bet is to get a licenced plumber out with a CCTV camera to investigate any leakages in your drains. If there are leaks, you can get a pipe relining service done which offers a much more protective drain solution that tree roots have problems breaking through.

Proper pipe relining is by far the best way to prevent roots from getting into the drain pipes.


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