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My sewer drain got clogged around September last year. I called in a plumber, he ran a snake through the main sewer out. No more clog. He said it was the roots of the 30ft Maple tree or the 30ft Spruce tree in my front lawn.

It's mid-July now and the trees are active again, and I started to hear some gurgling/bubbling in my basement floor drain again. I'm worried that by August or September, it's gonna be fully clogged again and the basement drain will start to overflow.

Do tree roots grow that quickly in my sewer drain pipes? If so, that means I have to snake it once every year?

4 Answers 4

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I can tell you that in my area (we have full blown winters) the snaking is required once a year. You may be able to stretch in in a dry spell to two years, but is it worth the risk?

Your alternative is to pull up the tree, or to change your drains to PVC, both of which are expensive vs snaking every year.

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  • I agree, I finally dug up a old cement line to the city sewer because it was plugging yearly and I have a large root cutting power snake. Put a ABS line in and did not have any problems for 6-7 years when I sold that house. +
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jul 10, 2016 at 21:21
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We get roots that reinvade as often as monthly, and so we started using Roebic foaming root killer about twice a month and it has saved us hundreds in snaking costs.

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I stumbled across this question, looking for an answer to a related question about sewer snakes. So, I know this is an old question, but it is also a common problem. Hope you don't mind me offering advice on what worked for me to anyone else who may be asking.

There is an alternative to snaking which has worked well for me the last 12 years at a home where tree roots had been growing into the drain and backing up the sewer. I had to snake it twice before discovering Copper Sulfate. Buy a bottle of blue crystals from the hardware store for a little under $20 and follow the instructions on the bottle, flushing the contents down a toilet. Copper sulfate kills roots and prevents them from growing. In my area, I do this twice a year and have not had to snake out roots any more. There is also a liquid product but I can't speak to its efficacy.

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Once the roots have invaded the the drain, there is a big(ger) hole ready made for them to invade again. They will invade it much faster next time. You need to fix the hole.

  • If you have clay pipes then its best to replace them with PVC.
  • If you have PVC pipes already then find the hole or the gap in the joins and fix it/them.
  • Or (my least favourite option) pour poison (as suggested by someone) in the drain periodically.

We had this issue once where a Norfolk pine's roots invaded the clay pipes. It was not cheap but I got the tree felled and the pipe replaced with PVC. It isnt just the expense of finding and cutting the roots again, it is also the hassle of getting it done and the downtime.

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