Do you treasure big trees? Their sublime fall colors tell us another summer is fading and old man winter is coming. Throughout the year they provide beauty and shade. You may have planted beautiful trees to enhance your home's landscaping. But big trees and large branches can also be dangerous and destructive to property when severe weather or a winter ice storm threatens Virginia.
How trees can damage your home
A mature oak tree can top out at more than 80 feet, weigh in at 20,000 pounds or more, and become a massive threat to our homes. A tree that size is NOT something you want dropping on you during a storm! Even a CAT 1 hurricane can produce winds that cause large branches of trees to snap and shallow-rooted trees to topple.
Can a house withstand a tree falling on it?
A home can handle a tree falling on it depending on the size of the tree and the areas of the home that are damaged but can still cause extensive and expensive damage.
The Duvall's story says it all. Kate and Dan were preparing her home in anticipation of the couple's first child when a large tree brought catastrophic damage to their forever home. We worked closely with our local independent agent to help the Duvalls through this stressful event. You've got to watch to find out how it ends! (Yes, it's happy.)
We know from these types of member experiences that your home needs to be protected. While most homeowners insurance policies cover tree-related damage, you know the adage about an ounce of prevention. Most tree damage can be prevented with proper tree choice and placement and two simple practices.
How to prevent tree damage to your home
1. Trim that tree
Trim your trees twice a year in early spring and fall—zero in on dead and damaged branches. Maintain a minimum of 10-15 feet between healthy branches and your home and other property. Protect your home during fall wildfire season in Virginia runs from Oct. 15 through Nov. 30 each year. Having a defensible space around your home can prevent wildfires from quickly reaching your home. Once winter arrives, Virginia ice storms can add excessive weight to tree branches, causing them to break off when they wouldn't otherwise.
2. Check your trees' health
Is the foliage full and healthy-looking? What you see above ground often reflects the root problems below. Check your trees for a few more possible warning signs:
- Mushrooms growing around roots
- Rainwater pooling around the tree base
- Leaning with cracked or buckling soil or exposed roots on the opposite side
- Multiple V-shaped trunks vs. U-shaped. V-shaped are prone to splitting
- Signs of illness: Lack of foliage, fungus, or carpenter ants at the base of the tree, hollow pockets, cavities, or decay
- Signs of damage: Exposed roots, peeling bark, deep cracks, partially detached or suspended limbs or stem tops
If you're not sure about your tree's health, it's best to consult a certified arborist in Virginia. These specialists are skilled tree-care professionals. We recommend avoiding drive-by solicitations that may not have proper training and certification. If a tree in your yard is beyond help or looks dead, it should be removed as soon as possible. It may or may not be safe to remove your tree yourself. This is a job that is usually better left to an insured and licensed professional tree removal service.
What if a tree damages my home?
That's it! Regular maintenance is the best way to protect your home and property from Virginia's peak hurricane season and winter. Take the worry out by checking for signs your tree may fall. If your tree or your neighbor's tree does cause damage to property, not to worry. Your home policy covers property damage from a well-maintained tree. Call your independent agent or give us a call if you have a severe weather-related claim. We'll help you get things back to normal.