Drain Cleaner Relishes Opportunities to Solve Customers’ Root Problems

Austin Willetts often encounters root infestations in his heavily treed service area in Oregon

Drain Cleaner Relishes Opportunities to Solve Customers’ Root Problems

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Trees are easy to love. Roots not so much.

In and around Roseburg, Oregon, the land is full of trees and the ground full of roots, creating a common problem source for the many clogged sewer line calls Austin Willetts receives.

“We see a ton of that here,” says Willetts, owner of Roseburg Rooter & Drain Cleaning. “We have trees coming out our ears.”

Willow trees have especially insidious roots, he says, as does the Douglas fir.

“Those are the main culprits,” he says. “When we pull up on a job and see a willow growing right on a sewer line, we suspect roots. Nine times out of 10 we’re right.”

But Willetts says he likes the roots challenge. He also likes pumping septic tanks. Sometimes the two occur simultaneously. He recalls the time a homeowner called to say another company had recommended a new drainfield for the septic system. It would cost $15,000.

Willetts drove to the property and investigated the drainfield area. He soon discovered the problem: Cypress roots had infiltrated each of the distribution boxes in the drainfield lines, rendering the field inoperable. Willetts’ solution was to dig up each box, remove the roots and restore the system’s function. Cost? Only around a thousand dollars.

“The system had lots of life left in it,” Willetts says. 

It was a happy day for the property owner and a satisfying one for Willetts.

“Any job that challenges me is the one that I savor most, especially when other companies have been there and not solved the problem,” he says. “It becomes a mission: We are going to figure this out.”

Willetts says there are two kinds of companies. Those that care about maximum business volume and those that care about quality work.

“I’m not going to rush through a job so I can go to the next one. I care more about being thorough than busting out 10 jobs a day,” he says.

Read more about Roseburg Rooter & Drain Cleaning in the April 2023 issue of Cleaner magazine.


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