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Question DetailsAsked on 6/4/2014

Can white vinegar really break up concrete pieces in a sewer drain? If so, how much would I need?

Not sure it is concrete, it looks like a whitish/gray mass from the sewer video we saw. The camera could not go through it. Would white vinegar also work to kill tree roots?

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Voted Best Answer

HIGHLY unlikely to be concrete - especially if this is a sewer in use that just became blocked, rather than new construction where some concrete could have gotten into a sewer pipe that was left open. Where would the concrete have come from ? And how did it get into the line ? Unless some kid droipped it in the cleanout or such, if a hunk of concrete got in there you have a broken pipe tht needs repair. Most likely is a clog of roots or paper or grease, then coated with soap scum and grease and half-dissolved toilet paper fibers - ends up looking sort of like Jabba the Hut in the Star Wars movie.

It is rare to run a video before clearing the line with a drain cleaner and this is a goopd illustration of one of the reasons - if the camera cannot make it all the way through (and commonly cannot get past clogs), then you not only do not get a clear picture of what the issue was, but you also have no idea if you have a broken pipe, opened joints, or root problems in the rest of the line. The other main reason for routing before doing a camera run is the risk of getting the camera caught, especially if there is a collapsing section or significant inorganic debris like gravel in the pipe.

Sounds to me like what you need is a Sewer and Drain cleaning contractor to rout your line out full-length, all the way to the street sewer, using a full diameter scraper/cutter blade that actually scrapes the inside of the pipe clean of grease and soap scum buildup. This should be done every 10-20 years depending on your conditions. Whether you then do a camera run afterwards is a judgement call - I recommend asking them to bring the camera at no cost AND get agreement that no use, no charge for the camera - then if he feels a place the router catches like a broken place in the pipe, or a place where there is a sudden offset in the pipe (which an experienced operator can feel through the cable), THEN you can do a camera run to check it out. Oh - and demand a COLOR camera - shows thing SO much better than B&W, expecially small cracks in the pipe and roots that have been cut off.

Vinegar will dissolve concrete - but will take a LOT of contact time as vinegar is a mild acid. I can't see using vinegar to remove this even if it is concrete, because almost all of it would just flow on by - you have no way of making it sit at the concrete to dissolve the cement. The other problem with vinegar in concentrated use - what would it do to your pipe. Certainly not good for it, especially if clay, concrete, asbestos-concrete, or metal. I have heard of muriatic acid being used for dissolving concrete that got poured into a sewer pipe this - but that is MUCH stronger than vinegar. Also, pouring acid into the drain risks damage to the street sewer mains, which might well be concrete or concrete lined, and would undoubtedly result in a citation if the sewer department detected it.

I suppose vinegar is not good for roots, but a product like Root-X is the proper way to solve root problems, unless you dig it up and eliminate the instrusion in the first place, but that is a LOT more expensive for minor root growth.

Answered 6 years ago by LCD

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