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How To Get Tree Roots Out Of Your Sewer Line 

If you want to know how to get tree roots out of your sewer line, this is the article for you. We’ve compiled six of the most effective tree root remover solutions, including DIY and professional methods. We also include a few ways you can prevent tree roots from entering your sewer line in the future.

How To Get Tree Roots Out Of Your Sewer Line

If you are noticing clogs, backups, and odors throughout your home, there is a chance tree roots have infested your sewer line. Constant issues with your plumbing could also indicate something else is clogging your pipes, so experts suggest scheduling a sewer camera inspection to find the actual cause. Here are six different ways you can get tree roots out of your sewer line.

Rock Salt

Rock salt, not to be confused with sea salt, is mainly used for roads during the winter. But, it can also be used to absorb moisture from intruding tree roots, killing them. You can easily purchase rock salt online or at your local building supply store. Here’s what to do.
  1. Buy two pounds of rock salt.
    2. Pour half a pound into your toilet and flush until it’s gone.
    3. Do this until all 2 pounds of rock salt is gone.
    4. Don’t flush or turn on your water for about 12 hours. This gives the salt enough time to sit in the pipe and absorb all the moisture.
tree root in pipe

Sodium Chloride

Like rock salt, sodium chloride (table salt) can also clear tree roots. Follow the same instructions as above.

Note: It’s possible for salt to kill the roots and the tree itself. So, we advise using caution if you take this route.

Copper Sulfate

Copper sulfate, also known as bluestone, is an inexpensive herbicide and algaecide sold at most hardware or garden stores. Be warned, copper sulfate is toxic to animals and is banned in several counties across California, including Alameda, Contra Costa, Marin, Napa, San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Solano, and Sonoma. Here’s what to do.
  1. Flush 1/2 cup down your toilet.
  2. Flush your toilet several times to move the crystals down the sewer line.
  3. Open all of your windows and leave your home for a few hours.
  4. When you return, flush your toilet again.
copper sulfate
You can repeat these steps once a day for a week if the tree roots don’t die during the first attempt or every six months to prevent further tree root invasion.

Foaming Root Killer

Foaming root killer is another common lab-developed product that contains an herbicide called dichlobenil. When this chemical comes in contact with water, there’s an immediate foam-creating reaction that fills your entire pipe. Most foam root killers are safe, easy to use, and can be applied regularly if your sewer line is constantly clogged. Here’s what to do.
  1. Flush an entire pound of foaming root killer down your toilet. Do this as fast as possible to avoid the chemical reaction occurring in your toilet bowl. (Do not pour the foam down sinks or tubs.)
  2. Flush a second time to push the foam into your sewer line.
  3. Flush a third time if you have a 1.6-gallon low-flow toilet.
  4. Restrict your water usage for four to six hours.

Note: Foaming root killer should not be used in homes with septic tanks.


Hydro-jetting uses pressurized water (up to 4,000 PSI) to clear and remove clogs or tree roots from your sewer pipes. This is a professional tree root removal solution that must be performed by a sewer line repair expert. Here’s how it works.

  1. A self-propelled nozzle is fed into your sewer line cleanout.
  2. The hydro-jetting hose is connected to a water tank and machine that creates the pressure.
  3. As the nozzle moves through your sewer line, the water cuts through small roots, grease, and other types of clogs, pushing it all down your pipe.

Robotic Cutting

If hydro-jetting doesn’t clear the tree root, experts will most likely use robotic cutting. This solution can cut through thicker tree roots, concrete, and even steel. Robotic cutting doesn’t require any trenching and can be used to remove collapsed pipes to make way for a new line.
Robotic cutting

How To Prevent Tree Roots From Entering Your Sewer Line

One of the main things you can do to prevent roots from entering your sewer line is carefully planting or managing your property’s trees. Experts recommend keeping all trees and shrubs at least ten feet away from your sewer line. If you don’t know how to find your main sewer line, read How To Find The Main Sewer Line In Your House Without Digging.

If you already have large trees on your property and don’t want to remove or relocate them, now’s the time to upgrade your sewer line to a stronger material. Using pipe lining, professionals can coat the inside of your sewer pipe with a stronger epoxy material. Or, professionals can use pipe bursting, which will completely replace your sewer line with a high-density polyethylene pipe that’s stronger and longer lasting. Both of these upgrade solutions can repair damaged and weak pipes that are allowing root invasion.

Who Can Help Get Tree Roots Out Of Your Sewer Line?

If you need help identifying what’s clogging or slowing down your sewer line, call SWE Sewer Solutions. Our team of experts has been cleaning, clearing, repairing, and replacing sewer lines for nearly 30 years. We are bonded, city-approved, and licensed to work in Southern California. Call today for your in-depth inspection.