How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
Will the electric company trim branches rubbing against the overhead service lines to my house?
Sunday, July 29, 2018
A tree with branches touching the overhead electric service wires—the ones that run from the power pole at the corner of your property to a mast on the roof of your home and down to the electric meter—can become electrified when the motion of the tree branches in the wind rubs away their insulation.
After the connection between the wires and the tree has been made, it does not automatically mean that you will be shocked if you touch the tree. The electrical conductivity of the tree depends primarily on the level of moisture in the wood. During the time of year when there is a lot of sap in the tree it is more conductive and, of course, if the tree is wet from rain it will be more likely to conduct electricity to the ground.
But don’t assume that neither of these conditions exist, and stay away from any tree that is growing into a power line. If the tree is on your property, we recommend having it trimmed away from the lines. While electric utility companies regularly trim back trees from the high-voltage lines running along power easements, a tree on your property is your responsibility.
Because you should not try to trim away the branches while the wires are live, most electric utilities will temporarily disconnect the electric service to your home while you or a tree surgeon cut back the tree. Our local electric utility, GRU, disconnects the wires at the service mast and rolls them up back to the pole while the trimming is done, then reconnects your service afterwards.
If the service wires are rubbing against the main trunk of a tree, your electric utility can install a plastic sleeve over the wires at the area of contact for you, so that you don’t have to cut down the tree to eliminate the danger. In the photo above, a sleeve has been installed, but it has slid away from the area of contact and needs to be repositioned.
Also see our blog post How can trees damage a house?
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