How to Remove a Tree That’s Fallen Onto Your Roof

Northern Virginia has no shortage of trees, and any one of them could become a target for a natural disaster and fall onto your roof.

Tree fallen on roof of house

The cost of damage from weather-related disasters has skyrocketed. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) estimates storms and hurricanes inflict an average of $35 billion each year. Much of that damage is caused by high winds – and much of that figure comes from big trees falling on people’s houses. Tornadoes, thunderstorms, and hurricanes can suddenly put that magnificent old oak right in your living room.

If it happens to you, what do you do? You have two choices: Try to clean up the mess yourself or hire tree service pros to do it.

Check Your Insurance Policy

While you’re mulling that over, the first thing to do is check your insurance coverage.

Most homeowner’s policies cover wind damage to some extent, but the amount of coverage can vary widely, depending on factors like your deductible and the age of your roof. Call your agent right away.

The cost of property damage is just half of the equation. Getting rid of the tree is the other half. If it’s just a modest-sized limb, it might not set you back much, but if you have a full-blown tree resting on your roof, you’re looking at a major project that’s going to hit your pocketbook, whether DIY or done by pros.

Tempting as it might be to try to save money by taking the DIY route, going all Paul Bunyan on the project might not be a good idea. It can be dangerous work.

Danger Ahead!

Ladders

Worker falling off of a ladder

Using a ladder to get on your roof always carries the risk of falling, especially if you’re accessing a damaged roof through fallen tree branches.

Chainsaws

Man cutting a tree stump with a chainsaw

Chances are good, you’re not going to remove the tree intact. You’re going to have to cut it up. Unless you’re willing to spend a few months on the roof with a pruning saw, cutting it up will involve a chainsaw. Chainsaws can sever human limbs easier than tree limbs and should only be handled by someone who knows what they’re doing.

Electric Lines

Tree limbs tangled up in utility lines

Power lines often run through or near tree branches. Touching a line with a saw or any piece of equipment can have disastrous results. A severed limb can also bring down a power line as it falls, causing electrocution or a power outage.

Strategic Planning

If you go cutting tree limbs willy-nilly, odds are good you'll cause more damage and possibly injuries. Planning is a must to determine where a limb or trunk will fall. Trees and their limbs and branches are very heavy. They can inflict considerable damage as they fall to your property – or your neighbor's.

Once the tree is down and cut up, you’ll still have to deal with the cleanup, which will probably involve having debris hauled away.

Going with pros might be advisable:

  • They know how to do it. They do this for a living
  • They have the equipment to do it right. From chainsaws to cranes and trucks, professionals have the tools to do it quickly.

Tree fallen from strong winds

What About the Cost?

Cost is going to vary widely depending on factors like how large the tree is, how difficult it will be to remove it, how much time it will take and what kind of equipment will be needed. Get some estimates before you begin.

A Final Thought

You might mitigate the damage and costs by taking precautions, like keeping your trees healthy with annual checkups. Prune them and check for insects that could damage the trunk and roots. Keep in mind: Over-watering will give trees weak root systems and make them more vulnerable to toppling in strong winds.

Lynn Walker has been writing for radio, TV, and newspapers for more than 50 years, and has expertise in news, features, humor, and history. weather, genealogy, science, and government.