Tools for Root Cleaning in Sewer Lines


Invasive tree root growth is "probably the most destructive problem encountered in a wastewater collection system," according to the authors of the University of California publication "Sewer Line Root Control." Depending on the size of the pipe and the amount of damage to the line, mechanical, hydraulic, and pneumatic tools will clean out roots in sewer lines.

Sewer Pipe Auger

  • A sewer auger has a rotating head that spins around the interior of a sewer pipe. Fed into the line at an entrance point, a control line attached to the auger supplies mechanical power and flexibility during its trip through the pipe. The auger head has sharp teeth or blades that cut away tree roots and other obstructions. Small diameter pipes are usually cleaned with a coil rodder, sometimes called a "snake" because of its springlike bending texture. Rodding machines with flexible steel cables handle larger pipes up to 12 inches in diameter.

Hydro Jet Cleaner

  • Hydro jet cleaners combine water pressure and cutting blades for another way to clear sewer pipes. A water pump delivers power through a hose to spinning blades at the front of a cleaning head, chewing through roots. At the back of the head are other openings, providing water pressure that moves the head down the pipe. As described by one hydro jet manufacturer, this combination of power and blades is "like having a chainsaw on the end of your jet hose."

Scorpion Cutter

  • Another way to clean tree roots out of sewer lines is with a scorpion cutter. This device is a pneumatic-powered high-speed rotating cutter that eliminates roots, mortar and cement from blocked lines. The name comes from one version of the device made of a series of coiled chains resembling scorpion stingers. Some scorpion cutters have built-in video cameras, allowing operators to view and map obstructions while they clear the line.

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