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How to kill tree roots with sulfate

Updated February 21, 2017

Tree roots are a nemesis to most sewer pipes. Many trees gravitate to the moisture around the pipes and eventually, the root breaks through the pipes. If you ignore the issue and allow the roots to grow, it could cost you thousands to repair or replace the drainpipe. Fortunately, you can use copper sulphate to kill tree roots in an attempt to keep the roots from further damaging your sewer system.

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  1. Locate the toilet furthest away from the location where the sewer drainpipe exists the home. In most cases, the pipe exists in the basement. Therefore, using a toilet located on a higher level in your home works fine. Not only will the sulphate kill tree roots, it will help to clean sludge and grease from your drainpipe. Using the toilet furthest sway from the location where the drainpipe exists the home means the chemicals will clean more of your drainpipe.

  2. Place the first packet of copper sulphate into your toilet bowel. The packet has a dissolving jacket around it that dissolves when it soaks in water. This prevents you from coming in contact with the copper sulphate and it prevents the copper sulphate from becoming airborne. Wait until the jacket around the copper sulphate dissolves. You will know when it dissolves because the copper sulphate will start to foam and bubble in your toilet.

  3. Flush the copper sulphate down the drain once the sulphate foams in the toilet bowel. As the copper sulphate passes through the drain attacks any roots that have breached the wall of the drainpipe as it works its way to the sewer system. The roots soak up the copper sulphate and begin to die.

  4. Repeat the process with a new packet every night for six nights. Although copper sulphate is very effective at killing tree roots, when you flush it the chemicals dilute. Repeated dosage for six nights ensures chemical exposure to all roots penetrating the drainpipe. This increases your chance of successfully killing all of the roots.

  5. Tip

    When you treat your system do it at night when toilet use is at a minimum. This will allow the chemical to rest inside the drain system, increasing the length of exposure to the root system.


    Copper sulphate is a toxic chemical that you must not expose to your skin. Certain sulphate cleaners become airborne when placed in water. For this reasons use a product specifically designed for emersion in a toilet and for use in sewer drains such as Root N' Clean Sulfate cleaner. If you choose to use regular copper sulphate, make sure you protect yourself from the chemical by wearing disposable rubber gloves and a face mask.

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Things You'll Need

  • Copper Sulfate

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