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Chemically Treating Roots in Pipes

Tree roots love pipes. Why? Because of the environment. The moisture and rich soil are like mood lighting and jazz music to tree roots. That’s why pipe replacement and other mechanical root intrusion solutions aren’t completely effective. They replace the pipes and kill some roots, but they do nothing about the environment.

Chemical pipe treatments kill tree roots and make the area around plumbing inhospitable to the tree roots. Often, non-chemical pipe treatments kill tree roots in and surrounding the pipes, and eventually the dead roots around the pipe decay. That decay is rich food for living tree roots and it attracts them right back to the pipes.

Chemical pipe treatments solve the problem by destroying and inhibiting the growth of plant life, slime and fungus. Unfortunately, many chemicals will also kill the trees connected to the roots.

If you want to save your trees, it’s important to choose your pipe treatment chemicals carefully. Various chemicals have different effect on trees. Some chemicals only inhibit and kill the roots directly around the pipes, while others may attack the tree itself. Even treating pipes that aren’t near root systems could have consequences for you trees, because the roots will inevitably grow towards the pipes.

Copper sulphate, for one, is great at blocking root growth but it travels far up the root system and threatens the tree. Copper sulfate cannot be used on plumbing that contains lead, terra cotta or porcelain because the chemical is corrosive to those substances.

A 1962 test by the Engineering and Water Supply Department of South Australia[i] tested the long-term effect of different chemicals. The test showed that the best tree root inhibitors were sand set into cement, copper sulfate and a PVC chemical. However effected, copper sulfate is currently considered fairly unusable because of it’s negative effects on plant life.

For safe, reliable and guaranteed protection of your beautiful trees, choose Vaporooter to manage tree root growth in your pipes.


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