Chemical Treatments to Dissolve Tree Roots

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Clogged toilets may be the result of root-clogged drains.
Clogged toilets may be the result of root-clogged drains. (Image: Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images)

If your bathtub drains at a snail’s pace and your toilet bubbles as your washer empties, you may have roots in your pipes. Chemical treatments are an effective and a simple method to clear clogged drains. They work from the inside out to eat away invasive roots and leave your pipes clear and free-flowing.

Why Chemicals?

Chemicals are useful for getting rid of roots for two main reasons: they’re non-invasive and effective with minimal effort. The most common method of removing tree branches is snaking the pipes. Snaking is frequently used to clean out offending roots, but it is extremely messy and often requires removing the toilet to access the drain. Chemicals are also easier than snaking, and take just a few minutes each month to use.

How it Works

Chemical root treatments filter into root-infested pipes and dissolve clogging masses of roots. The chemicals interact with water already in the pipes, foaming up and eating into soft tree root fibers. Chemical sulfide, one of the primary ingredients in chemical treatments, invade the root and work their way into individual cell walls, killing off living cells and inhibiting regrowth. The dissolved roots are then forced out when fresh water flows down the pipe.

Application

Read over the directions thoroughly to determine the proper amount of chemicals for your pipes. Pour the chemical root granules into the toilet, and flush it once to push the granules into the pipe. Leave the toilet unflushed for at least four hours, or for the time specified in the instruction packet. The chemicals must have time to foam and dissolve roots, so it’s best to apply just before going to bed and make sure the toilet is undisturbed overnight. In the morning, flush the toilet multiple times until the lines are flowing clean and the toilet drains without slowing or backing up.

Cautions

Keep root dissolving products tightly capped and on high shelves away from children and animals. They are very caustic and can cause illness and death if used improperly. Chemical treatments should not be used too often. The same ingredients that dissolve roots can also break down sewer pipes with repeated use. If your pipes are still not flowing properly after two applications, call in a licensed plumber.

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