PSA: What to do about invasive tree roots

What’s the worst flaw a house could have? Termites? Cheap construction? Lead-based paint? How about a sewer line that keeps backing up?

We’ve been dealing with that last bummer since the first fall we lived in our house. We moved in July 2012, and our basement laundry room was glistening with foul “gray water” that October. I hoped it was a fluke, but it wasn’t. Our sewer guy Kayden (who soon recognized my voice on the phone because I called so much) told me we had a problem with tree roots growing into the main sewer line.

This wouldn’t happen with a new PVC sewer line. But lucky us, we inherited the original cast-iron pipe, circa 1936. This is one original feature you DO NOT WANT.

For a couple years, we paid to have our sewer line snaked every few months. Certain times of year were especially bad; the sewer was more likely to back up when there were extreme weather changes, for instance.

I started praying for a solution. At the time, we were paying off a massive student loan, so replacing the line wasn’t an option. Within a few days of my prayers, my grandma mentioned that she and my grandpa used to flush some mystery chemical down their toilets to kill tree roots in their sewer line. Bingo.

I did some research and found a great product that helped minimize the backups: Roebic Foaming Root Killer. I flushed this stuff down the basement toilet every other month for the last couple years and only had to have the sewer line snaked once since then. It saved us hundreds of dollars, and I bought it at Lowe’s for about $20.

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So that’s my PSA for today: If you have an old house with an old sewer line that’s been invaded by tree roots, try Roebic. It’s not a permanent fix, but it will get you by until you can update your line. •

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