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 Sum of the square roots?
Author: LI Guy (IN)

Or in this case @sum's tree roots....

Sum, I saw you replaced that sewer line that you cleared the roots away from. Were there roots on the inside? Were they causing the clog? Would love a pic if you have one to post....

I never would have guessed that a root as small as a hair could continue to grow inside the pipe with no evidence of same on the outside of the pipe, but I also don't doubt the pros here on the forum who have seen it first hand. just curious how bad it was on the inside considering how clean it looked on the outside.

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Not a plumber by trade but a fierce DIYer

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 Re: Sum of the square roots?
Author: sum (FL)

LI Guy,

I don't have the answer you are looking for, or I was looking for either.

At the first sign of the blockage, I had a drain cleaning company here to snake it from the roof vent down and the snake came back with roots strangled on the snake. I would describe those roots as fibrous, like frayed ends of a mop. He went in again and came back with more roots. That's when he said I need to replace the pipe and gave me a quote. So I know there were roots inside the pipe, just didn't know if he removed 70% of it or 10% of it.

Then he sent a camera down, but the camera can't see roots, only black water, and he said black water with roots is serious trouble and he didn't want to go any further for fear the roots may tangle up with the expensive camera. I got an approximate location of the trouble spot.

I started digging, and digging and digging, and there were lots of tree roots (there are two big trees nearby) as well as palm roots. But they were crossing above and below the pipes. Most were fibrous roots, some were big roots, some as thick as a soda can, and I had one as thick as a roll of kitchen paper towels that I had to cut with a 12" blade. I even found a large 4'X2' concrete slab 4" thick 2 feet down. But once all the construction debris and roots were cut away and the pipe exposed, I did not see any roots entering the pipe.

In my mind, I was expecting a section of the pipe, most likely where an elbow or coupling was, a badly made joint, with roots growing around it, strangling it, to the point that I can't separate the roots from the pipes. I didn't see anything like that at all.

OK then someone said it could be on the underside of the pipe where the roots were penetrating. I did dig around to the bottom of the pipes too. Here is the thing, I used a landscape shovel. I dug on the side of the pipe on one side, and when that side was cleared, I pushed the shovel onto the other side, nudged the dirt/sand under the pipe out and cleared that. Is it possible when I was digging, I was actually cutting off hair like roots with the shovel on the underside? Possibly.

I did find a spot along the 20' or so long trench the pipe as a belly, so that's why the drain cleaner #1 saw dark water.

Unable to find where the roots were coming in, I called drain cleaner #2 and explained to them I need someone who has a 4" root cutting head to snake the line, and inspect the line afterwards. So drain cleaner #2 came, and inserted the snake through the cleanout on the ground (that was not accessible for drain cleaner #1 because it was buried under a slab). He sent that snake down about 50' or so, then he sent down the camera, the camera didn't see any roots - to be expected because any roots would have been cut out with that head and pushed downstream. So at that point I no longer have roots inside the pipes and only a belly.

After that I made two cuts one upstream one downstream of the trench, and removed about 20' of pipe. AFter I made the cuts, I lifted the pipe out of the trench. When I lifted it, I expected there would be resistance where roots may be entering the pipe from the underside. Well there was no resistance. Nothing.

That's 20' of old pipe. I took a sawzall and cut them into two foot sections for disposal. When I cut then up I did not see any roots inside each section. Any roots inside would have been chewed up and pushed down by drain cleaner #1 and #2.

It remains a mystery to me where the roots were entering.

There was one connection, totally crooked, and not even cemented. I thought that was the most likely point of entry. But then again, I didn't see roots going inside that joint. There was a big root underneath it that I had to cut away, I think that joint was leaking but again I saw nothing entering the pipe.

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 Re: Sum of the square roots?
Author: bernabeu (SC)

@ LIGuy

INSIDE the pipe is UNLIMITED fertilizer AND water

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Retired U.A. Local 1 & 638
"Measure Twice & Cut Once"

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 Re: Sum of the square roots?
Author: LI Guy (IN)

WOW, thanks for the follow up. Based on the comments from your original post, everyone was saying that just because there's no roots on the outside doesn't mean they aren't growing on the inside. I was expecting you to find a mass of roots inside the pipe when you cut that section of pipe out!!

So the camera was just seeing the standing water in the belly and no roots...Now that you have it properly repaired and pitched is the clogging problem fixed?

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Not a plumber by trade but a fierce DIYer

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 Re: Sum of the square roots?
Author: sum (FL)

bernabeu, I was kind of expecting to run into something like the following.

May be it's a good thing I didn't.

Edited 1 times.

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