Attacking the root of the problem.

About a month ago, there was a clog in the bathroom drains (not the toilet, but everything else: tub, sink, and the sink in my bedroom which is on the same drain line). It took some effort to get it cleared. But that’s not what this is about.

While I was mucking about with that problem, I noticed that the basement washtub was filling with water and then very…slowly…draining; both when the washing machine was running and also when the dishwasher ran. And when someone flushed the toilet. And after the clog was cleared, when anyone showered.

That’s not good.

That means the man line is clogged up. This has happened before. It was not fun.

But I was just getting over an illness. And I also didn’t have time to go rent the big snake, drag it into the basement, snake out the drain from both cleanout spots, etc, etc. And it was still draining a little.

So I poured a healthy glug of bleach into the washtub (so it stopped smelling like sewage) and bought some chemistry.

I bought Roebic FRK Foaming Root Killer.

Following the directions, I waited until I was pretty sure the drains would not be used for many hours (last thing before I went to sleep), and poured it down the toilet and flushed.

It produces copious amounts of sickly grey foam.

It expects a lot more water-per-flush than modern toilets provide. I was a little panicky as I waited for the tank to fill so I could flush a second, a third time to get it all down the drain, as it continued to swell and foam. But eventually it was all down into the drain.

Then, I waited.


The package and website are very cagey about how long it will take. And in small print at the end it says that for severe cases you may have to remove the roots mechanically, then use their product to keep the drain clear.


Just about when I’d given up on this stuff, I noticed that I was no longer having to sanitize the washtub every few days. No more water was backflowing into it.

It worked!

It took about 18 days, but it worked!

I expect I’ll be buying and using this stuff regularly. Because $20 and 10 minutes every 6 months is better than $70 and a few hours of hard smelly work every two years, even though it costs more money in the long run.

Science Marches On!


A guy in his early 50s, living more or less alone in a 90-year-old house, trying to keep it all together.

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Posted in Plumbing

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