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Why You Shouldn’t Cut Down Trees

Trees on Power Lines - Larricks

If you have trees encroaching upon neighborhood power lines, you may be wondering if it is safe for you to cut them down yourself.

Even if you’re confident cutting down trees or shrubs that are far from the main power lines, cutting greenery that is close to power lines is a different story. Though it may be tempting to cut down a tree close to a power line, doing so can be perilous. It could also be illegal.

Before you can consider a job of this sort, consult a professional. If you don’t, you risk a catastrophic accident. The city or energy company may also be responsible for cutting down a tree near a power line.

Read on to see why trees near any electrical power lines should be cut down and why you should not attempt it on your own!


When Vegetation is Too Close to Electrical Power Lines

When you have a tree that is too close to power lines, the owner of the lines will manage the removal of the tree and repair the power lines if necessary. The owner of the lines is almost always an electric utility company.

When it comes to your own property, it is important to ensure that the power lines on or around your property are clear of trees and vegetation. Live trees can conduct electricity due to its high water content.

So someone standing by a tree encroaching powerlines, then that body can complete the electrical circuit and get electrocuted. Trees that do not touch but are near a powerline can also be dangerous. The shock may not be as catastrophic, but the trees can still conduct electricity, and it is best to avoid being near these.

In a neighborhood, most power lines are covered in an insulator to keep the power lines weatherproof. If electrical wires scrape against a tree's branches, the wires' insulation can rub-free, leading to a live wire. This friction can cause a spark or fire.

You may also have a current running through your tree. A tree can become dangerously live when a tree and electrical power line create an electrical circuit.

The transformer connects to a wire to a tree branch to the ground and then back to the transformer.

In other words, when a tree or other vegetation grows near power lines, it can turn into a risk of electrical shock and is in danger of forming a powerful electrical current.

The circuit process might seem as though it is rare, but it can happen fast and when you least expect it. If you were to attempt any maintenance on a tree that has a complete circuit, you would risk electrocution.

Unless you are a certified electrician, there is no way of knowing exactly how well-insulated power lines are. One example of a hazardous situation is a tree that is crackling and sparking, eventually catching fire. In this case, you should call the electric company that owns the power lines immediately.

What Will a Utility Company Do if a Tree Falls on Lines Near My House?

The dangers of electric shocks are so perilous that if you suspect that there is an issue with the power lines, you should immediately call the electric company's emergency line. And, actually, the removal or pruning of trees or vegetation near power lines is required by the National Electric Safety Code (NESC).

Electrical companies are responsible for preventative trimming, but sometimes lines will get missed. So it is up to you to inform them of a potential hazard.

So, how do you know when it is the responsibility of the power company? A good rule of thumb is that a utility company is responsible only for pole-to-pole power lines. That leaves any tree trimming, pruning, or removal that connects your home to a utility pole your responsibility. In that case, you should call a professional tree company to safely remove the tree.

Utility companies don't always have listed rules about what they will do to protect residential areas from downed power lines. In the case of power lines downed because of stormy weather, such as winds, snow, and ice, a power company can inform you what to do.

What Will a Professional Tree Service Do?

If you have any of the following scenarios, here’s who you should call:

  1. Your electrical company: if wires are touching your trees or shrubs and making them live with electricity

  2. Your electrical company: if you fear there may be some voltage in your tree vegetation, but you are unsure of exactly how dangerous the situation is

  3. A professional tree service: if you want to understand if your trees pose a potential hazard near electrical lines

Suppose you are unsure who to call in a situation involving electricity and a tree or shrub. In that case, a reliable tree company will give you the information you require, either in person, after assessing the distance and placement of the tree, or over the phone. Expert tree professionals can trim your tree or remove it so that your property is safe for you, your children, and your pets.

While you may want to save some money, don’t take chances when it comes to electricity. Terrible accidents can happen very easily if you’re not trained in electrical work or tree trimming. Most homeowners don’t have the required know-how, equipment, or time to trim a live tree.

It’s best to avoid handling the vegetation yourself. If you try to cut your trees from a position on the ground, or even from a regular ladder, you risk not noticing a live wire, touching the wire with pruning tools, and potentially causing grave injury or even death.

Without proper equipment, you are also at risk of a tree limb falling in the wrong direction and creating a live wire situation where there was none. A professional tree service has the correct equipment needed to trim a tree while remaining safe.

Hire a Professional Tree Service

A professional tree service will look for power lines before starting to prune shrubs or trees. If they spot any troublesome power lines, we’re prepared to call the responsible company to remove the lines safely. Professional tree services employ tree climbers equipped with proper tools and have extensive training to complete the tree work safely.

If you notice a tree touching or interfering with power lines at your home, contact a qualified arborist or call the electric company. An arborist will assess how close a tree is to a power line and recommend the next course of action.

Additionally, you should always call a tree service to cut down any trees you want to be removed due to aesthetics or infringing on your home. A professional tree service will expertly control the way a tree falls for any tree trimming or tree services aside from power line-related incidences.

Without a professional, the tree may fall directly onto or close to the power line or your home. Many homeowners attempt pruning trees or shrubs with long-handled pruning shears. If there is any current, the tool could cause the current to arc, causing disaster. Arborists have proper tools that will avoid serious injury or death.

Additionally, a tree care professional is insured and will come with the right tools and know-how. They can safely take care of your tree pruning needs.

Trust a Professional to Cut Down a Tree Near Your Electrical Line

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When it comes to trees encroaching powerlines, we recommend that you hire a certified contractor to assess who is responsible for your trees or shrubs near power lines, that way you don’t hurt yourself. A professional can evaluate the situation and recommend an appropriate fix or handle it themselves.

If you are building a home or landscaping, you can also give us a call for your landscaping needs. We will know where they must be placed to avoid encroaching upon power lines or your home's foundation.

Here at Laricks Complete Tree Services, we have over eight years of experience in tree service, servicing the Villas, NJ, and surrounding areas. We have all the equipment needed to have your trees pruned and maintained correctly so everything is taken care of.


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