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How Far Should Tree Branches Be From Your Roof?

How Far Should Tree Branches Be From Your Roof

With all the time we now find ourselves spending at home we have started taking a lot more notice of our property. Those minor concerns that you always had but were too busy up until now to really think about are suddenly front and center in your thoughts. Have you ever looked at that tree that seems to have grown perilously close to your home and wondered, ‘should I be concerned with that?’ 

Perhaps, you are considering selling your property and are worried about low-hanging tree branches and the impact, if any, they may have on any Home Inspection the proposed purchasers are likely to have carried out.

Here is some useful information for you to consider if you do have concerns about your trees and their branches.

Your Roof & Its Construction

Today’s modern timber roofs are generally all constructed in the same manner. Timber framing is attached to the top of the external walls and has a breathable membrane applied over it (usually roofing asphalt) with timber battens holding the membrane down. On top of these timber battens a roof covering such as tiles or asphalt shingles is placed, the purpose of which is to protect the membrane from the elements.

The roof coverings allow water to run off and into the gutters where it is taken away preventing any water ingress into the attic space. Should water get into your attic it can rot the supporting timbers and even allow water to enter the living spaces leading to dampness and mold. Water ingress also presents a safety hazard concerning any electrics that are present in the roof space and the potential for short-circuiting leading to a fire.

The Risks

Whether you are selling your property or have lived in it for many years and have recently become concerned with the proximity of the surrounding trees, it’s important to know the risks that tree branches present to your roof. Low-hanging branches or tree limbs can very easily damage your roof, no matter what their size whether they be a heavy limb or a smaller branch.  

It is obvious that should a large, thick limb become detached from the tree during a storm then the likelihood of damage to the roof is high. In a worst-case scenario, the heavy branches could come through and into the home itself, causing extreme damage and possible injury to the occupants. 

Light branches can be equally damaging however as they can expose the roof to snow, rain and all the other factors the roof covering is designed to protect from. Smaller low hanging branches can repeatedly rub against and wear down shingles or scrape the roof tiles. By scraping repetitively against the tiles and shingles, tree branches can easily wear away the layers of asphalt, thereby weakening the integrity of the roof. It is also possible that in storm conditions, smaller tree branches may become lodged in any gaps that exist in the tiles and in high wind situations, physically pull the tiles off the roof.

If you have any urgent concerns, contacting a reputable tree care company such as our friends in Trufast Tree Services is your first step. Whether it’s trimming or emergency tree removal the guys in Trufast will be able to help.

Tree Damage & Your Home Insurance

The good news is that if your home suffers damage as a result of falling trees or tree branches, your homeowners’ insurance will likely contribute towards the costs of repairing any damage. 

That said, however, you will be liable to pay any excess or deductible first and if your insurer feels that the damage was caused because the tree fell due to neglect then you may not receive coverage for the claim at all.

Furthermore, in the event that damage is caused to a neighbors house by a tree on your property, the neighbors’ insurance company may likely look to mitigate their loss by coming to you looking for payment. In other words, failure to maintain your trees could lead to a serious bill for damage caused to your home or to any other person’s property damaged by your trees.

It is paramount therefore to keep your trees trimmed and in good shape.

Signs That Your Trees Are Sick Or Unstable

Firstly, while we will show you here what to look out for, it is essential that you seek the professional advice of an arborist like the guys over in Trufast if you have any concerns over the health of your trees or their proximity to your home.

  • Discolored leaves – While discolored foliage isn’t always a sign that your tree is diseased, it is a common sign that all is not well.
  • Peeling Bark – Some trees, such as birch, shed bark naturally but on many tree types, it is a sign of disease.
  • Cracked or Split Trunk 
  • Leaning Trees – If your trees are leaning excessively to one side it may be as a result of an imbalance in the canopy or uneven root growth.

So how far from your roof should tree branches be?

The answer to that question depends mainly on the type and height of the trees in your garden. The taller the tree, the father it should be from your property with very tall trees standing approximately 30 feet away. No matter the tree height, arborists recommend that any tree branches should be a minimum of 6 but ideally 8-10 feet away from a roof to ensure that your roof remains undamaged. 

A further consideration, and in relation to a topic mentioned above, is that your homeowners’ insurance may stipulate a distance any tree must be from your home. Failure to adhere to this clause may result in non-payment of claims that may arise from damage caused by trees.

DIY Or Professional Help?

If you have any concerns about hanging branches, ensure that you get them trimmed back immediately, to prevent any damage. Unless you are competent with chainsaws and working at height it is probably best to contact a tree care service whose arborists will ensure that your house isn’t at risk from the trees that surround it. The arborist will carry out a health check on the trees and will deal with any branches that may pose a risk meaning you can relax and do not have to worry about any possible damage to your home, or indeed, yourself.

A further benefit to engaging the services of a tree care company is that their employees will be fully insured against any damage they cause to your home or themselves. If however, you do intend on trimming branches off your trees yourself, make sure that you are following best safety practices

  • Wear personal protective equipment (PPE) – Helmet, ear & eye protection, etc.
  • Don’t climb on unsupported ladders – falls are a common occurrence.
  • Never work alone, if something were to happen to you make sure there is somebody there to help.
  • Watch out for hidden electrical wires.

Tree care is a dangerous undertaking that should be taken very seriously. While the temptation to save money is understandable, the large medical bills and loss of earnings that follow an accident could see any savings you have made wiped out in an instant.

Your health is your wealth.

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