Are tree roots affecting your main sewer line? If so, the last thing you want is sewage backing up into your plumbing fixtures, including your shower. A problem of this magnitude requires a tool that matches said magnitude, and that tool is the best drain auger for tree roots.
Standard drain augers for home use are too short and weak to clear tree roots from a sewage line. In this case, you need a more powerful auger with a longer line, thicker cable, and an able cutting head. The ideal types of augers are large-drum models and “rooters” that are specifically designed for clearing tree roots.
People with old pipes are more susceptible to clogged sewage lines due to plant roots. If your home has old pipes, and you suspect that roots are the cause of your clogging issue, there’s a good chance you’re right.
In this article, we share the top 5 drain augers for tree roots & all types of plant roots. After the chart below, we go over individual reviews of each model and finish up with several tips on how to get rid of tree roots in a sewer line.
|#1) General Pipe Cleaners Speedrooter 92 Sewer Cleaning Machine|
|#2) RIDGID K-750 Drum Machine w/ Tool Set, Autofeed & Gloves|
|#3) Cobra Products Speedway Drain Cleaning Machine|
|#4) RIDGID K-400 Drum Machine w/ Bulb Auger & Gloves|
|#5) Mophorn Drain Cleaner Machine|
Best Drain Auger for Tree Roots Reviews
Depending on the severity of your clog and the size of the tree roots, you’ll want to select a 1/2″ cable at a minimum. General Pipe Cleaners and Ridgid manufacturer the best rooters for the job. For people who want to skip feeding the cable manually and complete even the toughest jobs on near-autopilot, these are the models for you.
Aside from the machine, there are also specialty heads that grind through all types of roots, including tough tree roots. In the reviews below, we share a couple of cutting head options we think you’ll like, particularly the ClogChopper. For most folks, a 100′ cable combined with a good chopper is enough to get the job done.
Now, let’s take a closer look at each of the models to give you a clear idea of what to expect from each unit.
#1) General Pipe Cleaners Speedrooter 92 Sewer Cleaning Machine
If you’re ready to go all-in and avoid annual or semi-annual calls to the plumber, this is the option for you. Even beginners will find that this machine is easy to use after reading through the manual and safety precautions. The kit includes everything you need to grind through tough tree roots out of the box.
Several key features we like are the 30″ guide tube to reduce cable whip & drag, large 10″ wheels for easy moving, V-belt stair climbers, truck-loading components, and General’s heavy-duty Flexicore cable that comes backed by a 1-year warranty. You’ll find that General thought of almost every feature one could think of to make this rooter the best in the industry.
Lastly, it feels good to know this piece of machinery is made in the USA with premium parts that won’t fail you. If you have any questions or concerns before or after your purchase, General has a toll-free customer service number.
The base package includes a variety of cutters, though you may want to add the General Piper Cleaners ClogChopper for clearing stacks, downspouts, and mains. This all-in-1 cutting head blasts through roots while removing crystallized urine and scale from the inner walls of your pipes. Additionally, the self-sharpening blades require little to zero maintenance.
#2) RIDGID K-750 Drum Machine w/ Tool Set, Autofeed & Gloves
Ridgid manufactures some of the toughest and most reliable augers on the market. The K-750 drain cleaning machine operates similarly to the Speedrooter above and even has a similar price tag attached. However, if we had to choose just one, we would go with the Speedrooter because it’s more beginner-friendly and reliable.
Yet, there are several complaints about malfunctioning parts or broken cables. On the other side of the fence, the people who love the K-750 really love it. If you’re familiar with Ridgid products, you might feel more comfortable buying from them with a lifetime warranty compared to the 1-year warranty offered by General Pipe Cleaners.
The K-750 package includes everything you need to cut through tree roots in your main sewer line. In total, the package includes the K-750 drum machine, 100′ x 3/4″ cable, Ridgid work gloves, and a full 3/4″ toolset with cutters. The cutting heads are 1 spade cutter (T-406), 1 retrieving auger (T-407), and 3 double cutters from 2″ to 4″ (T-411, T-413, T-414).
The video below gives an excellent representation of how to safely use the K-750 drum machine:
#3) Cobra Products Speedway ST-6500 Drain Cleaning Machine
Another heavy-duty auger that’s up for the task of cleaning large tree roots is the Speedway Drain Cleaning Machine. Of all the models in Speedway’s lineup, the ST-6500 is the most powerful, and it’s competitively priced. At the time of this writing, it costs less than the two models above, yet only slightly less than the Speedrooter 92.
One feature we like more in the ST-6500 than the Ridgid K-750 and Speedrooter 92 is the dual handle wheels for easier loading onto a truck. If you plan to invest in several different cables, the ST-6500 features a nifty “tilt-a-way” three-position power feed with a grease fitting for quicker, easier drum changes. We say this because we did notice several complaints about the weight of the drums for the two models above. Keep in mind, changing drums and loading/unloading these machines may require two people.
Finally, we searched far and wide for warranty info and could not find it on the manufacturer’s site or any suppliers’ sites. If you’re concerned about this issue, we recommend sticking with Speedrooter or Ridgid for more reliable warranties.
- Industrial-grade quality for a reasonable price
- An impressively powerful motor
- Approved by plumbers
- Comparable to more expensive Ridgid and Spartan augers
- Stands the test of time
- It might feel slow to you
- Cable life is not on par with Speedrooter Flexicore
- Unclear warranty
#4) RIDGID K-400 Drum Machine
The K-400 drum machine is essentially a smaller and more affordable version of the K-750. If you’re on a tighter budget and/or only have a minor tree root problem, this machine will get the job done. It comes in two versions: manual and auto-feed with the option to upgrade the manual version to auto-feed.
One clear advantage of the K-400 over the models above is the weight and size of the machine. It’s far less unwieldy, and the integrated transport cart w/ a retractable handle makes for easy moving.
One feature we like is the cable control system that automatically stops the drum once the head reaches a blockage. This significantly reduces the chance of the cable flipping over inside the drum, and it also serves as an indicator that you’ve reached the roots blocking your drain.
- A powerful drain auger for a bargain price
- Easier to maneuver and move around for one person than larger machines
- Quiet and smooth operation
- Recommended for clearing tree roots
- Ridgid lifetime warranty
- The 75′ cable might be too short (be sure to measure your job before you buy)
- A smaller 1/2″ cable compared to 3/4″ with the models above
The final consideration is this unit is not made for tough tree roots, though it does work with some patience and the proper cutting head. We recommend pairing the K-400 with the Ridgid 63025 T-209 2″ Spiral Cutter head pictured below to clear tree roots. Considering this machine costs significantly less than more heavy-duty models, it’s worth a look for most homeowners, especially for conscientious folks who schedule maintenance cleanings.
#5) Mophorn Drain Cleaner Machine
The final model is our top budget drain auger pick for tree roots. Before we list several of the key features, we want you to know that this model is not specifically designed for cutting through tree roots, similar to the K-400 above. However, for light jobs that don’t require the cutting of thick tree roots, this budget machine has the ability to get the job done for 1000s of bucks less than the cost of a heavy-duty rooter.
The cable size matches the Ridgid K-400 Drum Machine at 75′ x 1/2″, and Mophorn rates the cable for 1″ to 4″ drains. Always remember to compare the size of the drain you need to clear to the machine’s capacity to ensure you fall within the rated range. Skipping this step has the potential to lead to the hassle of initiating an inconvenient return or failure to clear the clog.
The base package includes 8 cutting heads, an air-activated foot switch, work gloves, and of course, the machine with the cable. There are 4 types of cutting heads, including boring bulb, spade, c-cutter, and arrow, which gives you enough options to work with to get rid of your root clog.
- The most affordable drain auger in this guide
- A lot lighter and easier to handle than a heavy-duty model
- Multiple cutting heads that are easy to change
- Will most likely pay for itself in just 1-2 uses compared to hiring a plumber
- Not made for clearing thick tree roots
- The machine may begin to vibrate when the cable is reeled all the way out
- Manual feed augers do require more patience than auto-feed models
How to Get Rid of Tree Roots in Sewer Lines
In this final section before we wrap up, we want to share some tips on how to remove tree roots in a sewer line. To make the tips easier to read and remember, we compiled the most important ones into the list below:
- Drain augers made to remove tree roots are often referred to as rooters, drain cleaner machines, electric sewer snakes, and large-drum augers. Be sure to choose a model with this title rather than a smaller auger with a shorter line.
- Always remember that rooters are heavy and may require two or more people to move. We did our best to include models with good wheels and lifting components. People with bad backs may want to consider using a back brace to avoid any strain. When lifting a rooter onto a truck or up a set of stairs, always lift with your legs.
- Always use proper safety gear, including work gloves, safety glasses, and heavier clothing that covers all of your skin. Most of the models in this guide include work gloves.
- Before buying an auger, locate the drain cleanout opening closest to the clog. Then, determine the distance between the opening and an alternate opening on the other side of the clog. This gives you an idea of the length of cable you need to complete the job. Most often, you’ll need either a 100′ or 75′ cable.
- Once you determine the necessary cable length, be sure to match your drain diameter to the recommended range for the cable of the rooter you intend to buy. For thick tree roots, 3/4″ cables are a better place to start than 1/2″ size.
- Check to see which types of cutting heads come in the base package. Of all the cutting heads we reviewed, we like the ClogChopper and Ridgid cutter heads the most. These are the types of heads that cut through tree roots with the most ease.
- One final tip is for people who don’t have a drain cleanout opening with access to the main sewer line. In this case, it’s necessary to remove a toilet closest to the clog to access the main sewer line.
And those are the most important considerations to make before choosing an auger.
Now that you’ve learned how to choose the best drain auger for tree roots and learned how to get rid of roots in sewer lines, we’re confident that you’re ready to clear your line. Once you do the job yourself, you’ll be confident to tackle any problems down the line.
Finally, if you think there’s potential for roots to invade your old pipes on a yearly basis, it’s a good idea to do a maintenance run with your auger every 3-6 months to keep your drains running smoothly.