How To Remove Tree Roots From Your Drain Pipes

How To Remove Tree Roots From Your Drain Pipes

Typical blocked drain issues around the home are caused by debris entering your pipes from kitchens and bathrooms. Sometimes though, drain blockage problems are deeper and more complex where tree roots have worked their way into underground pipes. Tree root issues can be caused by any trees or hedges you have on your property as well as trees owned by your neighbours, even if they are not directly above your pipelines.

Why do Tree Roots Block Sewers?

Trees have extensive root systems that branch out underground looking for moisture. Any leak or crack is enough for a tree to invade as the tips of roots are incredibly fine and can work their way into hairline fractures and imperfections. As they grow they can cause further damage to pipes and create leaks and damage that soften the ground and allow more roots to enter.

Signs of Roots in Drain Pipes

A big problem homeowners face is not knowing where the blockage is occurring or not detecting blockages early enough. The longer a tree root blockage is left, the worse it becomes and the more effort is needed to free your pipes and repair damage.

If you notice these signs around your home contact a qualified drainage plumber to get fast and accurate assistance:

  • Strong odours around your drains – caused by stagnant water and bacteria
  • Slow or gurgling drains
  • Depressions forming in gardens or driveways
  • A tree that seems to be thriving and growing rapidly
  • Frequently toilet drainage issues such as water backing up

DIY Solutions

There are a variety of solutions you can try yourself. These two are plumber approved as they won’t damage pipes or pipe lining and are safe for your trees.

Copper Sulphate

Copper sulphate is a natural herbicide you can find cheaply and easily from home improvement centres. If you have small roots inside your sew line it is very effective at killing them off without harming the tree. Dissolve half a cup of crystals in warm water and flush down the toilet. Do not use this method if you have a septic tank.


Safe for all toilet types, rock salt will cause tree roots in your system to wither and rot. Regular applications of salt will harm the tree so be sure to only treat once and call for professional help if you don’t see results. Dissolve around 500 gms to a kilogram of rock salt in a bucket of warm water and tip into your toilet. It’s best to leave it sit for a few hours in the bowl before flushing if possible.

Professional Methods

Professional pipe maintenance specialists will be able to pinpoint the issue and see the roots in your drain using cameras. When the damage is known and the exact point of the problem is targeted a professional plumber will be able to discuss the best approach going forward including:

Mechanical Auger or Rooter

A mechanical auger is fed into the pipe and moves through blockages with a saw-blade type effect. It’s the most commonly used tool for root clearing. From there your pipes are flushed out so an assessment can be completed to see what pipe maintenance you might need to prevent root regrowth.


A hydro jetter is a powerful pressurised water pump able to send a root destroying blast through your pipes that can cut through even thick and well established growth. It’s a good preparation method before pipe relining. You may also need a chemical treatment for any stubborn roots left behind.

Pipe Repair or Replacement

There are two options to prevent new roots from entering your pipes. The first is pipe relining where a strong sleeve is positioned in the required sections and set with hot water and resin adhesive, making pipes better than new. The second is digging up your pipes and replacing old pipes with PVC.

Clearing solutions are temporary as roots will regrow. Too much salt treatment will harm trees so you can’t simply put a treatment in every time you have a new blockage, you will need professional help to keep tree roots out and strengthen your pipes for good with relining or replacement.