How to Use Salt to Get Rid of Tree Roots in Sewer Lines

Written by barbara raskauskas
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How to Use Salt to Get Rid of Tree Roots in Sewer Lines
Tree roots may seek moisture escaping from sewer lines. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

As warm water passes through sewer lines, a vapour forms on the exterior of the sewer pipe. The soil surrounding the sewer pipe absorbs the vapour moisture. Tree roots in the vicinity will grow toward the moist soil and may eventually enter the sewer line, where they can block the flow. You may avoid a hefty plumbing bill by using rock salt to not only get rid of tree roots, but to prevent new roots from taking over the sewer lines.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Rock salt

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  1. 1

    Pour a 4-pound box of rock salt down a toilet and flush. Pour the salt down the toilet in the evening before you and other household members go to bed, since the salt water should remain in the sewer line for at least eight hours. Do not use any other drains in the house to avoid diluting the salty water solution.

  2. 2

    Flush the toilet again after eight hours. You may also resume use of any drain in the house after eight hours.

  3. 3

    Repeat Steps 1 and 2 every month. Tree roots in the sewer line will eventually die from absorbing the sodium from the rock salt. Repeat the process monthly to keep the lines clear.

Tips and warnings

  • Plant trees no closer than 10 feet from a sewer line.
  • Rock salt, like Morton's ice cream salt used to help melt ice in the preparation of homemade ice cream, is available year-round at home and garden centres. Otherwise, use four pounds of rock salt from a bag of rock salt available during winter months for melting ice on sidewalks.
  • The dying tree roots may also kill the tree.

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