How to Remove Tree Roots From Water Wells

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Clean, functioning water wells are important to your health and well-being.
Clean, functioning water wells are important to your health and well-being. (Image: Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images)

Tree roots and water wells have something of a fatal attraction. Trees need water to uptake for their survival and water wells are designed to capture and hold water. Even the most strongly constructed well can have problems with obstructing roots. There are chemicals to treat roots in sewer and drainage lines, but none of these can be safely used in water systems. Your well should be inspected, if you believe it has tree roots in it. If the structure is cracked or compromised, you will need to construct a new one. Also check the pump. If the tree roots are obstructing the intake lines you can use a plumbing snake or compressed air to remove them.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Saw
  • Pruners
  • Boards
  • Cement braces
  • Industrial plumbing snake
  • Air compressor

Remove the well cover and use a flashlight to verify that you have roots inside. If they are just in the reservoir you can manually remove them with a saw or pruners. Be careful not to go into a well without shoring it up somehow, either with boards or cement braces.

Use an industrial snake or auger to remove the clog. Turn off the water to the entire house at the main shut off valve. Allow the water to bleed out of the faucets. Open the water service line in the basement, outside or in the laundry room.

Insert the end of the snake into the line and gently push it in as far as you can. Either hand crank the wheel on the snake or turn on the power, if the unit is electric. The snake will slowly feed into the line. It will stop moving when it hits the obstruction. Keep the snake in the forward position until the auger at the end cuts away the roots.

Reverse the cranking and slowly re-spool the snake. The roots will be tangled up on the end. There may be more cut pieces in the line, so turn the water back on and flush the system.

Use an air compressor as an alternative to blow out the roots, if they are small. Turn off the water and insert the end of the compressor hose into the bled main water line. Turn on the compressor and depress the valve to deliver short, sharp bursts of air. Do this several times. Retract the compressor and close up the line. Turn on the water and check that the line is running freely.

Have the tree removed that is causing the problem or snake the drain once or twice a year to prevent clogs caused by the roots.

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