Who Is Responsible for a Tree Touching a Power Line?

A tree touching a power line or being very close to touching one is hazardous. One gust of wind in the wrong direction could wrench the branch and disconnect the cable. 

To avoid this issue, the tree limbs must be at least 15 feet away from overhead power lines. A  meticulous tree trimming service in Philadelphia is your best bet at eliminating the risk. 

The question then becomes who’s responsible for paying. The short answer is that it depends on who owns the land that the tree is on. In this article, the Mercados Landscaping and Tree Service team answers this question in more detail. 

When You Own the Land, the Tree Is On

If the tree is on your land, you must trim it so it doesn’t affect the neighborhood power lines. It’s advisable to get professional assistance here as you could risk accidentally nipping the lines. 

You’re also responsible for trimming branches that affect service cords leading from the street into your yard. 

When the Tree Is on Public Land

When the tree is on public land, the National Electrical Safety Code places the responsibility for trimming the trees on utility companies. They typically send line-clearing crews every six to 12 months. However, if you notice a potential issue, you can report it to them so that they send out an inspector. 

What if the Tree Is Partially on Your Land? 

If the tree crosses your property boundary but is primarily on public land, the utility company must pay to clear the power lines. 

What Are the Dangers? 

Why is a tree touching a power line so dangerous? The branches could damage the insulation of the power lines or snap them off completely. Both situations are hazardous because you have live, high-voltage power running unchecked.

There are three risks with a damaged cord: 

  1. It could break free, whipping around and electrocuting anything with which it comes into contact. This is the best-case scenario, as it’s immediately apparent that there is an issue. 
  2. The wires may seem intact from the ground but still allow current to flow into the tree branch, down the trunk, and into the ground. The electricity will transfer to anyone or anything that subsequently touches the tree.
  3. A tall tree could be blown over in the wind, pulling the cables and the heavy poles with it.  

How Much Clearance Is Necessary? 

The lines need a clearance of at least ten to 15 feet around. The reason for this distance is that power lines may sag in warm weather during peak times due to a high load. The cables thus become longer and arch closer to the ground while also being more likely to sway. 

It takes just one gust of wind to blow a wayward tree branch into the wrong place. 

Do You Have a Say in the Cutting of Your Trees? 

Where your tree’s branches extend over public property, the utility company may cut them to achieve the proper clearance. The firm will typically send an inspector around to notify you that they will do so. 

However, if the company can reach the requisite branches to trim them, they may go ahead without your permission due to the hazard. Since this might damage the tree, it may be a good reason to take care of it yourself. 

Get Expert Advice

It’s essential to stop a tree touching a power line. Fortunately, there are several ways to do this without killing the tree. Learn about how an arborist can help you by calling Mercados Landscaping and Tree Service at (215) 764-5509

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