Cutting Intrusions and Overflows

North Bend eliminates root blockages with a simple chemical treatment program.

Cutting Intrusions and Overflows

RootX is designed to foam on contact with water and fill the pipe with its active root-killing ingredient.

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Roots plague many sewer systems. In the temperate climate of North Bend, Oregon, it was especially bad.

North Bend is a small city (population 10,000) surrounded on three sides by Coos Bay. It is a lush, green place with an abundance of trees and hedges. Roots inevitably find their way into the sewer system, clogging pipes and causing significant problems for Joe Vos, collection foreman.

Twenty years ago, there were routine callouts for blocked sewers, lots of jetting, and many hours and dollars budgeted for digging up and replacing hopelessly clogged sewer lines.

“We realized that roots were a problem we had to take seriously, and jetting and cutting wasn’t very efficient,” Vos explains. “So we took a look at the various root killers available, and RootX looked right for us. We put it to work right away, saw quick results and stuck with it ever since. If it’s applied correctly, it’s amazing.”

Immediate results

The sewer system network in North Bend is mostly made up of 6- to 12-inch lines, 30% of which are clay, 50% concrete and the rest PVC. And they’re all in good shape. “Even the clay is holding up well, and it’s been in since the 1920s,” Vos says. “We only have root problems because of the joints.”

In the first few years of RootX use, North Bend applied about 12 boxes of RootX annually, using the supplied foaming applicator. The strategy then was simply to foam every line clogged with roots. And it worked well.

“We had a list of clogged lines and treated nearly all of them, and honestly it worked well from the beginning,” Vos says. “In less than four years, there wasn’t a single clogged line left, and we could CCTV all of them. We’ve eliminated most of our root problems. We may get a callout now and then for laterals, but never in the mainlines.”

RootX is effective mainly because it’s designed to foam on contact with water. The foam fills lines and raises the root-killing active ingredient to the top of sewer pipes, where 90% of root intrusion occurs. It is also formulated to strip away grease and grime, which allows the active ingredient to penetrate roots, killing them and stunting future growth. This is far more effective than simply jetting or cutting roots, because cut roots grow back aggressively and will soon clog pipes.

And also, more important, the active ingredient dichlobenil does not have a negative effect on downstream wastewater treatment plants. It simply kills roots and retards future root growth, keeping sewer pipes running efficiently and significantly reducing sanitary sewer overflows.

After that initial heavy treatment protocol, RootX use dropped dramatically; the initial use of 10 to 12 boxes annually has dropped to just 16 boxes applied every other year. “We don’t have to treat roots annually now,” Vos explains. “We CCTV our entire network on a three-year cycle and use that data to identify lines that should be treated, which we do every two years. That has kept our lines continually clear of roots, and it works so well we’re considering treating every three years.”

Clear mains

Vos likes to share examples of how happy he is with RootX’s effectiveness in his system.

“When we started, we had one line that was so clogged we couldn’t even push a jetter through. We assumed it was going to have to be dug up and replaced, but we went ahead and tried RootX. Three years later, it was completely clear and we could even verify that with a CCTV run.

“We even had a manhole that was completely filled up with roots, and we treated it in the simplest possible way by pouring in a bag of RootX and applying water to foam it up,” he adds. “The next year, we pulled all those roots easily and haven’t had a problem since.”

So root-clogged sewer lines are essentially no longer a problem in North Bend and haven’t been since the utility implemented its root treatment program. At least, root-clogged mainlines haven’t been a problem. “We never get callouts anymore for mainlines,” Vos explains. “But laterals are different: They’re up to owners to maintain, and roots do get in there. We let them know about RootX, and usually they give it a try and it solves their problems.”

Twenty years is a long commitment to one sewer solution, especially in an age where new technology is being introduced constantly. But Vos says, “I want to say to skeptics that if it’s applied correctly, it’s amazing. RootX worked immediately for us and then kept working and keeping lines clear, and I can demonstrate that with before-and-after CCTV footage throughout our system.”


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