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Roots In Drain Lines Can Cause Stoppages

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Roots in toilet train line
Aaron Stickley
Roots growing into pipes in the ground is one thing, but roots growing up from under your house’s slab foundation and invading your toilet is another thing entirely. Believe it or not this problem is not as uncommon as you may think.

If you live on a slab foundation it is possible for the roots to grow up from under the slab, into the bottom of the toilet, and then grow back down into the plumbing drain pipe. This will of course cause all kinds problems.

Signs Of Roots In Drain Lines:

  1. The most common sign is a toilet that stops up occasionally that can be cleared using a plunger. This is not a very definite sign of a root problem but it can be the first symptom. With all of the low flush toilets on the market a lot of people have a stoppage here and there. It doesn’t always mean there is a problem with the drain line, but it is an indication that you should keep an eye on things.
  2. If the toilet stoppages become more frequent and more stubborn, the chances that you have a roots in the drain problem becomes more likely. In some cases the toilet will eventually become so blocked that it cannot be cleared by using a plunger. Again, the occasional stubborn stoppage is not by itself an indication of a problem. What you need to look out for is a recurring or worsening problem.
  3. A localized drain problem is another sign of roots growing into the drain. It is easy to check whether the problem is localized to one particular toilet. If your toilet is stopped up the first thing to do is to make sure the other fixtures or other toilets are draining. If other plumbing fixtures are also stopped up or the drain waste is coming up into your showers and tubs then you have a main line stoppage. A main line stoppage needs to be cleared through the clean-out, if you have one. If the stoppage is affecting only one toilet you should consider investigating whether the cause is roots in the drain line.
What To Do:

The first thing to do if you believe you have roots in the drain line clogging your toilet is to use a toilet auger to try and confirm this. Using a toilet auger extended to the 6’ mark can often reach tree roots in the toilet drain line. The auger may pull back some root remains so inspect the auger and the toilet bowl. This will verify that you have roots under your toilet.

To solve this problem you will need to pull the toilet up to access the drain. After the toilet is up you can see the roots under the toilet. The solution is to cut all the roots back and remove any roots that may have gotten into the drain line.

To Remove Roots In Drain:
  1. Using a pair of clippers or a utility knife cut all visible roots as far back under the slab as you can.
  2. If the roots have grown into the drain, pull the roots out of the drain pipe. The easiest way to do this may be by using a drain machine. Run the drain machine until the drain line is clear.
  3. Once the drain is clear and all the roots are removed from around the flange you can put root killer between the concrete slab and the drain pipe. Rock salt or root killer should be applied where the roots originally grew up from. Either product can help prevent or at least stunt the growth of new roots for several years.
  4. Finish by reinstalling the toilet with a new wax seal. Level your toilet with shims, bolt it down, hook up the water line, and put new caulking around the base of the toilet.
Note: Wear thick gloves to protect your hands.
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