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Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Blog

How Tree Roots Can Damage Your Plumbing


If you look out the window of your house, do you have a pleasant view of trees and bushes around a well-kept yard? It’s a relaxing sight to look at—but you might not be aware that those trees and other plants can present a danger to a part of your house. The growth of plant roots can wreak havoc on the plumbing for your house, potentially creating sewage back-ups. 

Tree-roof infestation is a major problem for residential plumbing in Evanston, IL and elsewhere in the Chicago suburbs. Our climate is conducive to the growth of trees with aggressive root systems: silver maples, poplars, and willows. As these trees grow, their roots can spread far and wide, seeking sources of water and nutrients, including your plumbing system. 

So although you may love having a tree-filled yard in the suburbs, you need to be aware of the ways tree roots can damage plumbing and what you can do to prevent it. 

The Big Tree Root Problems

One of the main ways that tree roots damage plumbing is by creating blockages in pipes, mainly the sewer line that’s buried under your property. As roots grow inside pipes, they can cause the pipes to crack or break, allowing dirt and other debris to accumulate and clog the pipes. This can result in slow drains, backed-up toilets, and other plumbing issues that can be both frustrating and costly to fix. In the worst-case-scenario, a fully blocked sewer line will cause sewage back-up.

Another way that tree roots can damage plumbing is by causing leaks. Roots are forceful, and their growth against pipes will cause them to shift and bend. This can create weak spots in the pipes that eventually lead to leaks. If left untreated, these leaks can cause water damage to your home and raise your water bill.


Careful landscaping is an essential part of keeping tree roots from damaging your pipes. If you plant trees too close to the sewer line (or the septic system if you use one), the roots will rapidly reach it. A general rule of thumb is to plant trees at least 10 feet away from these systems. Additionally, consider planting trees with less aggressive root systems, such as maple, dogwood, or cherry trees.

If you have existing trees near your plumbing system, have one of our plumbers inspect them regularly. We can use specialized equipment, such as cameras and sensors, to identify any signs of damage or blockages in your pipes due to tree roots. Early detection will prevent costly repairs and minimize the risk of water damage to your home.

Again, we don’t want to discourage you from beautifying your property with trees and plants. But make sure to take steps to prevent tree roots from damaging your plumbing and rely on our plumbers to help you stop trouble early. By taking these precautions, you can enjoy the daydream of your tree-filled yard while having a plumbing system that doesn’t create nightmares.

For expert plumbing service, installations, or maintenance contact Reliance Plumbing Sewer & Drainage, Inc. Our knowledgeable plumbers serve the North Shore and Northwest Chicago suburbs. Rely on Reliance!

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