As you might imagine, there are certain clearances that electrical wires / power lines must have, for example, when they cross over roads, driveways, roofs, pools, walkways and when near fire escapes, windows & doors. Furthermore, these clearances become problematic when vegetation, such as trees, shrubs and the likes interfere with them. In picture shown here, the incoming electrical service wires are resting directing on a tree branch.
So, what’s the problem? When these electrical wires come in contact with vegetation, a number of issues can arise. For example, the electrical wires themselves can become damaged or frayed from rubbing against the vegetation. In windy weather, these electrical wires can sway and move as the vegetation does. During different seasons, leaves on the trees (or snow / ice) can weigh the branches down yet in spring or fall you thought there was plenty of clearance. If the vegetation interferes with the electrical wires in these scenarios it can affect the securement where the service entrance wires / drip loops are at the house or at the pole. Then wires can become disconnected and you lose power, or cause a poor / intermittent connection.
What are some of the consequences? Ultimately, they are above are fire / shock hazards. If the tree is old, or there’s a storm / high wind and tree branches fall they can bring with them the “live / hot” electrical wires, disrupting power supply to your home and a fire / shock hazard. In addition, electrical wires worn by vegetation can not only cause a fire but may energize the tree / vegetation itself, making it a shock hazard if someone touches them.
Here are some Do’s & Don’ts:
- Do contact your local utility company before doing anything (including hiring a contractor to take care of the problem) if you think trees or vegetation are too close or touching the overhead electrical wires.
- Don’t attempt to prune vegetation or chop down a tree near electrical wires yourself. A tree or branch falling onto the electrical wires can cause serious injury or death. Arcing may occur simply by cutting a branch near electrical wires when it falls leading to electrocution. Don’t prune back vegetation or trees yourself, this job should be left to a professional certified utility arborist.
- Don’t think that using tools with long handles or standing on a ladder is a safe way to cut back the vegetation. This just greatly increases your odds of electrocution.
- Do be aware of all overhead electrical wires that run across your property.
- Do use extreme caution with ladders and long metal objects when around or in close proximity overhead electrical wires.
- Don’t touch any overhead electrical wires with anything.
- Don’t let anyone climb trees or get near vegetation that is in contact or in close proximity to the electrical wires.
Always consult a professional before assessing or attempting any work around or near overhead electrical wires.