I have a root growing in my sewage drain and I’m wondering what is the best way to remove it and what are the implications of having an apparently cracked main sewage line. Backstory: a few months ago my toilet stopped up and while investigating I took the toilet off and discovered a pinky finger sized root growing all the way up to the toilet wax ring and forming a thick mat of roots around the wax ring area. I was able to run a cheap auger I bought at Lowe’s and clear the line of solids that had backed up. However, I have not been able to clear the roots from the drain. I did buy this powder root inhibitor chemical at Lowe’s which I guess stops future growth. I have not been able to remove the actual root system. I live in a concrete slab suburban house that is about 60 feet feet from the main sewage line at the cul de sac. There is a large silver maple tree growing in my front yard which I suspect the roots came from. How do I best deal with this problem without breaking the bank??

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    Rent a properly sized auger with enough cable to get all the way out to the main. – Tyson Dec 25 '17 at 3:29

There at different styles of augger heads on larger units. Most folks are familiar with the cork screw style end that will grab chunks of hair and roots but there are also several styles of cutting heads the one I have the best luck with for clearing roots is a head that has 2 flat loops that are about 3" long and then 2 more flat loops that are a bit shorter but are the same diameter as the longer ones the loops are a flat stainless material that is fairly thin. These won't cut through a plug very well but they scrape the walls and cut the roots. I have found once roots get in the pipe it becomes an annual event until the pipe is replaced (even using chemical inhibitor). The large augger I purchased came with 3 or 4 heads , I found the best thing was to the head that looked like a hunting arrow to punch a hole in the mess then use the one with the loops. My unit has a power feed lever I go forward until I notice some back pressure then let it spin at that location for a little while move forward very slowly so the bands or loops cut the roots loose I do run water when doing this so everything is flushed as it is cut loose. The first time I did this I did not run water and all the chopped up root pieces plugged at the entrance to the main line and I had to run the cork screw head in to pull the roots out. I have had this happen in 2 homes 1 got so bad I replaced the line the other I just ran the snake every spring and never had and more problems until the next spring.

  • Spring? If the line is problematic due too root growth and needs an annual cleaning, I’d do it in the fall, as soon as the leaves have turned and the growing season has ended. – Tyson Dec 25 '17 at 14:13
  • For me that's when I or the renters had problems with both houses it may have worked to do it in the fall but who wants to play with poop if they don't have to. – Ed Beal Dec 25 '17 at 16:53
  • My first house was a piece of crap, and I owned it 6 years. I called roto-rooter the first time, the guy that came said he'd been there before (for previous owner) and told me to just get on the annual program at a discount and that I should have it cleaned every year in the fall as soon as the leaves turned. In all honesty if I was doing it myself, I'd rather prevention on a nice warm day, as opposed to playing in poop on a cold, rainy, winter night. – Tyson Dec 25 '17 at 21:24

How do I best deal with this problem without breaking the bank?

Your long-term lowest cost solution might be to hire a root removal specialist to come out twice a year and proactively clean the line. At approx. $125 per service (avg. depending on access), you could do this for many years before you would reach the cost of line replacement. There would still be the potential for inconvenient surprise stoppages because using a root cutter does not clear the entire line of roots (the heavy cable and cutter lie on the bottom of the pipe, leaving a "curtain" of roots untouched) nor does it prevent growth.

The most effective and reliable options (also the most expensive) are to either replace the line or have it hydro-blasted and "shot" with a liner to prevent future root intrusion.

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