Plumbing in the Home/Roots in sewer pipe

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Question
Hello: I just spent almost $4,000 digging up a floor drain pipe which was packed with tree roots.The pipe is cast iron,and was rotten.The plumbers had quite a time finding sound pipe to attach replacement PVC to.What would you recommend to prevent root problems in the future? I have ordered some copper sulphate to pour into the toilets to keep roots at bay.Your thoughts please,and thanks!

Answer
Hi Michael,
The best solution is to get rid of the root producer(s) or at least minimize the trees shrubs that are in the near vicinity of the sewer systems.
As an ongoing maintenance program I used to recommend flushing a can of rock salt (as used in water softeners) down the toilet at least weekly and biweekly or more if you know roots are present. Some jurisdictions however now prohibit salt introduction to the sewer systems so you should check with your agency first. Most public works agencies will tell you what works best in your area. Of course if you have a water softening system (that uses salt) installed and working; it's normal operation generally mitigates the root problem as an unheralded benefit of a water softener.
You are already aware that the cast-iron (at least the horizontal in ground portion)is very thin and going to get worse. If you have not replaced all of it I would certainly plan on doing that in the future and schedule it as soon as practical for your own situation. I am just reminding you to be prepared as well as you can because it will be necessary in time.
I have no first hand knowledge of the copper sulphate.  

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Cortez (cort) Cate

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PLEASE read this entire introduction. I have been doing this for a long time and I have come to the conclusion that if you are not willing to take the time to write a detailed question then don't expect a detailed solution! I am getting far to many questions that do not give enough detail to warrant a good solution. I realize it is a little difficult to formulate a good question but if you want a good answer you have to give me good details....read this entire introduction please....remember this website is world wide I have no clue where you live if you don't tell me.....to give more detail on the fixture you are having problems with...a one piece eljer 3.5 gallon flush will be totally different than a one-gallon flush toto.....details are important. I can answer most questions related to residential and commercial plumbing for many buildings. I have sufficient knowledge of the UPC and UMC. I will speculate for you if necessary. In those cases I will try to give you some guidance and you should use that to refine the question further and we, together, can seek the answer via a follow up. Plumbing codes and practices vary around the world--If you don't tell me where you live the answer I give may not fit your locality. I am giving my time to you as a way of fulfilling my perceived obligation to share. I am here to try to help you find a solution to your problem. REMEMBER, If you want a good answer you need to ask a detailed question and include where you live, type of pipes, type of building, water pressure if it is a water problem, type of heater, age of appliance & building all these and many more are variables that have an effect on various situations. Detailed information will help produce a better answer.

Experience

Since 1972 a California licensed B-1 General Building Contractor, C-36 Plumbing and C-16 Fire Sprinkler Contractor; also installing and servicing Heating, Air Conditioning and Sheet Metal operating as C and C Building and Plumbing, California State License 279516. In 1995 I downsized the company to become semi-retired. Still I remain active in the construction industry. As head of a company I placed personnel and job safety as the number one objective followed closely by training and continuing education. Always seeking to stay informed of leading edge technology in the industry. Also I have spent several years as an Apprenticeship Instructor in the Pipe Trades Unions. Additionally I am a certified OSHA instructor.

Education/Credentials
United Association of Plumbers and Steamfitters Instruction Training, Ann Arbor, MI Bakersfield College, Bakersfield CA Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, San Luis Obispo, CA Foothill College, Los Altos, CA California Licensed Contractor from 1971

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