Trees and Electrical Safety

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All Arizonans are familiar with rainy monsoon season, but what many may not know is that we also have a winter rainy season, sometime in December or January. While these aren’t the violent haboobs, they can still be tricky in that they can unleash a deluge of water. Our soil and foliage, unaccustomed to the soaking of winter rains, can turn up rootbound trees, and overgrown branches can become top heavy and split away from the tree. A branch or entire tree can land on a power line, creating an immediate danger.

The role of the neighbor or city

For the hapless homeowner, having a tree or branch fall on the power line which services their house can be tremendously dangerous, as well as inconvenient.  It doesn’t even necessarily have to be a tree from the homeowner’s yard! For example, if a tree which is on a neighbor’s or city property, and a branch from the tree falls on a power line, the city or neighbor only claims responsibility for the portion of the tree which is on their property. Once it flies off in a gust of wind or overreaches into a residence, it becomes the responsibility of the homeowner.

Therefore, if a branch from a neighbor or common area is rubbing against the homeowner’s power line where it can damage insulation or dislodge the line from the pole, the homeowner is compelled to deal with the problem before it becomes a hazard or causes damage.

The power company

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The power company has two responsibilities in the case of downed power lines. First, the lines which run from pole to pole between homes are their responsibility. Second, they are obligated to shut the power off for the homeowner in the event he has a damaged or compromised line on his property.  Beyond that, they’re not bound to service the lines.


Their advice? Never plant a tree near a power line. In the event the tree branches encroach within fifteen feet of the line or pole, have it cut back before the rains.

The time is now!

Experts advise that pruning of trees should be done late in the fall or before the onset of spring. In the Phoenix area, spring can come early, which should be taken into account when scheduling tree pruning service.

A note about pollarding

Pollarding is the practice of severely cutting back a deciduous tree to the point where it is no more than a trunk with a few stumps on it. While this is a prevalent practice, it can also take up to ten years off the life of a tree.

If a homeowner finds themselves without power as the result of a fallen tree or branch, or if they notice a tree or branch has fallen on their power lines, they should notify the electric company immediately. While the power company’s obligation doesn’t extend further than their lines, it’s essential that the power is shut off so an emergency tree or branch removal can be conducted safely.

If you need a full-service licensed electrician in the Phoenix or Tempe area, call Lundell Electric at 480-654-6400

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