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Ridding tree roots from sewer lines

By Forrest M. Holly / July 3, 1980



Q. Is there a chemical that will kill tree roots which clog up sewer lines by growing into the inside at the joints? ARthur L. Royster Minneapolis

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A. If the sewer line belongs to a district, then the sewer district should maintain the lines free of roots. Give it a call to deroot the pipes.

If the sewer line is private as opposed to public, you may need to have a professional, such as Rotorooter, cut the roots out with a machine.

To use a chemical to kill the roots in a public sewer line is a no-no. The poison used may also kill the trees or at least have a deleterious effect on the treatment-plant process.

Now, if the roots are plugging a septic-tank effluent line, introduce some copper sulphate into the switch box beyond the septic tank itself. Do not put the chemical directly into the septic tank or upstream from it since it could harm the bacterial action which decomposes the sewage.

The switch box is found between the tank outlet and the drain line. This is where the chemical should be used. Consult a local septic-tank contractor for the quantity and frequency of usage.

Drawing on memory, I recall someone once recommending that copper wire, placed in the septic tank drain line when it is first installed, is a root deterrent.

Can you confirm that fact?