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Question DetailsAsked on 6/10/2011

Basement floor drain

The floor drain in our basement overflows several times a year. We’ve had Roto Rooter-type companies out many times. Sometimes they find tree roots and sometimes they don’t.  No one can find the cause of the problem and fix it. Would replacing the ball that floats in the drain help? Any other suggestions?

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4 Answers


We spoke with highly rated plumbing companies in your area, and they said that replacing the ball in the drain won’t stop it from backing up; it will just slow it down. The best way to diagnose the problem and find the cause is to run a camera down the drain. Typically the drain should be cleaned out first to make sure there is maximum visibility in the pipes. Roots will continue to grow back so if you do have to pull roots out of the drain, it is probably a maintenance issue. This especially becomes a problem in areas with older pipes and they usually recommend cleaning the roots out every 1-5 years. Another option would be to dig everything up and replace the pipes, but that can get pretty expensive.

Answered 9 years ago by Angie's List


good answer above get a camera check the drain line and the roots will grow back even if you take down the tree or shrubs the root ball keeps growing a few more years. Replace the main .Or you can put whats called a backwater valve in the main and this will stop the water from backing up from the public main if its known for overloading during storms or high usage at peak times.

Answered 8 years ago by owen klaus


We had a client with a related problem who lived in a veryold, yet renovated, Brownstone town house in Boston. The roots got into the very OLD septic system. It eventually backed-up! Based on the plumber's advice, as said above,the roots needed to be ground out of the system routinely – once a year. This still did not guarantee the possibilityof the septic system backing up again. The other option was to remove the treethat was getting into the pipes. The Association decided to remove the treeinstead of cleaning the system out every year and still risking a septic back-up.

Important note: treeroots only break into Very old pipes.

Based on limited information, it seems you have to decide toclean-out the pipes yearly or get rid of the tree. That is, make a cost-benefit-hassle ratio foryourself and go from there.

Good luck


Answered 8 years ago by help1968


I hate to disagree with MaddenTree - but tree roots do NOT attack only very old pipes - I have seen root penetration block a sewer within 3 months of new pipe installation because during installation they cut through roots and did not put down copper sulfate to kill the roots, and root-wrap the sewer pipe with root-prevention wrap, which is an herbicide impregnated mat. With large-diameter ductile and concrete pipe I have seen roots penetrate water and sewer mains in the time between installation and final inspection - in just a few months.

Granted, older pipes tend to show more roots because they have had more time to find their way into the joints, plus generally newer sewers mean a newer home, so it takes soem years for trees to get large enough to put roots far out and deep. Also, clay pipe joints areeasier for roots to penetrate than ductile or plastic, but if the roots are at sewer pipe level in the ground, they can easily cause problems in a short time.

For continuing root penetration problems, complete routing out and a camera run to be sure the pipe is not actually broken is the first step, then (after repairing any breaks) using Root-X or similar root killer every 6-12 months will cut the problem back to manageable levels, though in know root intrusion zones it should be routed out not less than every 3-5 years or so.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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