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papason 11-27-2007 06:54 PM

sewer line has roots backflow???
I have an old house and the cast line is 4 inch I believe. according to the sewar guys there camera says we have roots. When I snake the roots are so far that I thihnk it is in there line. At any rate we get back up into basement every year. I am sick of this it seems to happen just before my planned de rooting. No matter when I plan it.

I am thinking of diggin up the line and replacing the connection so roots cant get in. If I do this I have 2 issues. First should or could I use a backflow preventer? Not sure this is a trouble free solution. It could get stuck open. or other. So is there a something to keep it from entering the house in the event of a swewar clog?
The other is what to do with the dirt while from the huge hole. It would ruin the yard. I guess that would be the price we have to pay, and it may not be that bad. Getting that big of a hole dug is a project, it will need shoring. There will be wires in the way so much of it will need to be hand dug.

Anything you can help or add would be great.

glennjanie 11-27-2007 09:58 PM

Hey Papason:
A cast iron sewer line is the best you can get without going to plastics. It will last a lifetime... or two. One or more of the joints are leaking, however tiny the leak is. This attracts roots from trees and even from grasses; especially bermuda grass. Once the roots get a penetration they will continue to grow and will completely choke off the sewer line.
I got tired of snaking out my vitreous clay sewer line, went to Home Depot, got a bag of salt pellets for water softeners. I add a cup or two of the pellets every month. The pellets will become entangled in the roots, lay there and slowly dissolve, thus killing the roots out.
I have not had to snake my sewer line for 3 years now... it works!

Kerrylib 11-29-2007 12:41 PM


I feel your agony over the backups in the basement. We got sick of it happening every couple months and got the line replaced from the house to the main line in the middle of the street.

We had a couple estimates for total dig up and replace the line, as well as "trenchless" replacement. Go for the trenchless method. Ours was done for several thousand less than digging a trench the entire way. Now it is a single piece of schedule 80 PVC pipe. Unless there is seismic activity that breaks the pipe, it should be good for far longer than the house itself.

Since you have cast iron pipe, I don't know if the same method we had done will work, but I did see a "This Old House" episode where they did a fiberglass liner that was cured in place.

Check into the options. The peace of mind you'll get every time you walk downstairs to your basement and not wonder if you'll be steping into sewage is worth a lot.

glennjanie 11-29-2007 10:42 PM

Yes, the 'trenchless' systme will work with cast iron too. It is wonderful not to have to dig up your sod, flowers, magnolia tree, side walks and driveways.
But still, why go to any of that expense when a $5 bag of salt pellets will cure the problem.

Kerrylib 11-30-2007 10:18 AM


The salt doesn't "CURE" the problem. As long as you are religious about dumping the salt in regularly, as you've said, it will work.

You're always going to wonder is it really working as I expected? I like the peace of mind KNOWING it is taken care of. If I have a backup now, it is something REALLY SERIOUS on the city side, or something within the house that should be easily taken care of.

Just my opinion.

Also, if you know there is an issue with the sewer line backing up due to roots and you do not disclose it when you sell your house, our litigous society could hold you responsible for cleaning up and fixing the problem for the new owners. It's also going to devalue the house to people looking at it.

Like all of the advise here, weigh the opinions and consider your own situation. I find the best solution is to fix the problem correctly and completely. If that is outside your budget, do the best you can. I agree with Glenn that a $5 bag of salt is lots easier to swallow than a many thousand $$ bill for the line to be replaced. If it backs up once a year, then probably the salt pellets will do the trick. Worst you can do is clean out your line then try that out. For peace of mind, snake the line as you would before.

paintbrush 09-19-2009 04:42 PM

Salting main line
I read with interest the problems folks suffer with sewer line back-up. For those with that problem, I offer the following advice that has worked great for us...To begin with, we live in an historic 1888 Victorian home. Unfortunately, the sewer line is just as historic as the house. I could always count on the fact that at least once a year, we would have to suffer the expense of running the line due to backflow into the basement. Trenching out a new line was out of the question not only because of the expense, (easily $10,000 to $15,000 in our area), but also because of the location, (easement problems and neighboring drives and parking lots built over the original line)...anyway, to get to my original point, I religiously pour one large drinking glass of rock salt down the line once a week. Eureka! my sewer line problem has been solved now going on five years...I wish I would have been smart enough to use this simple fix from the very beginning. I purchase the rock salt, (also referred to as stock salt), at my local Big R store for a few dollars for a fifty pound bag that lasts me all year.

Redwood 09-20-2009 10:55 AM

A couple of things I'd consider would be a yearly application of Root-X...
Root-X Information Link

Also look at pipe bursting and pipe relining....
Pipe Bursting information Link
Pipe Bursting Information Link

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