Main sewer line blockage--roots. How would you proceed?

Discussion in 'Plumbing Forum, Professional & DIY Advice' started by Andrew85, Nov 22, 2004.

  1. Andrew85

    Andrew85 New Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    We've had a certain rooter company out twice in the past week to get rid of some blockage. They claimed not to be able to pass a 4" blade all the way through (had to step down to 3" due to a blockage somewhere underneath the driveway, about halfway to the main line). So we went to the camera, and found that it got stopped by a nest of roots. Whether this was THE blockage, we don't know....that's as far as it would go though. The prognosis is not good though, as they suggested the only solution is to replace the clay pipe from the point of blockage out to the main line. With that would come an approximately $2000 pricetag.

    We're just not sure how to proceed from here. Would you....

    -Take the estimate given and give the green light?
    -Call other plumbers for an estimate? Would they do a free estimate or should we expect a fee? (We can only describe what the rooter man has told us and show them the video of the pipe.)
    -Call other plumbers to see if they can free the blockage? Or is it the type of deal where if one guy can't get the pipe "clean"--it likely can't be done?

    (I can fill in with plenty more details, if needed, just didn't want the first post to turn into a book.)

    Thanks in advance.....
  2. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Sep 2, 2004
    Retired Systems engineer for defense industry.
    New England
    My guess is that if the roots got into that clay pipe, routing it out will only have a very temporary effect - trees just love that water and will be back soon. There must be a leak, doesn't have to be very big. If there is one, there may be more. One o fthe pros will give you some more experienced thoughts.
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  4. Andrew85

    Andrew85 New Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    That's a good point. The roots are pretty much coming in at each joint in the clay pipe, obviously more in some spots than others. Replacing the pipe is inevitable, however, we're also not planning to be here more than 1-2 years. We've already nixed the suggestion that we go ahead and replace ALL of the clay piping ($6000-7000). But if we can get by on a few more rooter jobs over the next year or two ($120 each) and maybe hold the new growth off a bit with copper sulfate.......... This is assuming someone else can get through this blockage with the rooter.
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    Whether the roots can be cut out depends on how massive the incursion is. I have cut fairly thick masses of roots, it just takes longer to do it. With the proper sized cutter, the roots will not return for a while. I usually tell my customers to not replace anything until the system needs snaking more than once a year.
  6. Ravz

    Ravz New Member

    Sep 3, 2004
    I had this exact problem, and also wanted a temporary fix, untill we were ready to dig up the driveway and yard etc..

    First thing, call a different rooter guy. We used one, that used a video camera and a very high pressure water jet that cut through the roots like butter.. it cost about 450CDN, but it was well worth it. After that I bought some root killer and put it in the line.. You can't get it in canada, but I ordered it from the US.

    Its called Roetix Foaming Root Killer.
  7. Andrew85

    Andrew85 New Member

    Nov 22, 2004
    Thanks for the suggestion. We're still treading lightly (read: not much TP use at all!) and haven't had a back up again. Trying to figure out whether or not homeowner's will cover this, and if so, what exactly they will and won't. What a mess. In the meantime, I do hope to get either some more estimates or have another rooter man attempt to clear it. Again, thanks for the tips...
  8. jdewees

    jdewees Operating engineer

    Dec 27, 2004
    Operating engineer
    Philadelphia PA
    If you can get through the blockage then you need to figure out exactly where the soil line is and how deep.You can take a 2" hand auger and drill several holes over the pipe (Where you can without tearing up any concrete or asphalt) stop about 30" above the pipe.Then you need to take 1" 1/2 PVC pipe drop them into the hole and then you can take the copper sulfate and pour it into the PVC I believe it is about half way up the pipe and the fill the rest with hot water repeat about every four months.This should keep the roots away from the pipe.
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