Trees that grow around power lines may pose a safety threat whenever it comes time to trim. However, when trimming such trees, the task is often harmless when you do it with care and caution, guiding your every move.
To minimize the odds of getting harmed or causing damage as your trim trees around power lines, it’s best if you use tools designed for that job. While some methods and techniques are proven to be safe when trimming trees around power lines, you should always know when to leave the job to the experts.
Who Is Responsible for Trimming Trees Around Power Lines?
In most states, trimming trees that grow around power lines falls on the power utility company. There’s, however, a bit of a grey area around this whole responsibility since there have been instances where residents or property owners take on the task themselves.
While it’s the electric utility company’s responsibility to trim trees around power lines, they often attend to such trees based on their routines or convenience. Even when the power utility company’s trimming is done on a set schedule, there are instances when a tree’s branches may grow exceedingly close to power lines.
Most times, a property owner facilitates the trimming process on their initiative, either by doing it alone or by commissioning the services of an arborist. However, suppose a tree’s branches stretch so much as to get into contact with live power cables. In that case, the responsibility should be left to the electric utility company managing the power lines.
To avoid the likelihood of trees growing dangerously close to powerlines, trees should be planted, or poles erected with about twenty feet. Depending on which comes before the other, the responsibility of ensuring the space is adhered to can fall to either the electric utility company or the resident or property owner.
Tools You May Need to Safely Trim Trees Around Power Lines
Hand saws with extendable handles can have seen blades that vary in diameter. These saws have either wooden, hardened plastic or metal handles. With a hand saw, you can reach through small spaces and get to tree branches without exposing yourself to power lines.
Pruners can be fastened to poles or have extendable handles by design. This makes them convenient for reaching out to distant branches without risk coming too close to power lines.
Fiberglass poles are a convenient tool since they enable you to adjust or position tree branches however you want them to be. Thus, fiberglass is a convenient tool that you can use alongside other trimming tools, and it also makes it possible for more than one person to work on a tree section.
The fiberglass material doesn’t conduct electricity, is light and robust. This makes fiberglass poles a good tool whenever there’s a need to adjust power lines, even if the lines are live.
Bucket trucks offer a more precise reach when trimming trees around power lines. With a bucket truck, you can navigate to a position where you can be effective in the trimming process and incur the least possible damage. It’s pretty easy to find bucket trucks for sale or for rent depending on your need (business or personal).
Safe Practices for Trimming Trees Close to Power Lines
Managing trees around power lines can be challenging even to professionals since you can’t reasonably predict the effects of such a task.
Here are some exemplary practices that would help ensure that the tree trimming happens safely and with little chance for unintended outcomes.
As a first step of the tree trimming process, residents of the area around the trees should be duly informed and put-up road signs where they need be.
An essential factor in ensuring safety for those doing the trimming is continually operating to assume that the lines are live and at maximum voltage. Unfortunately, when someone unaffiliated with the power utility company is doing the trim, they often don’t have the luxury of having the lines de-energized or grounded.
Inform the electric utility company
When the branches that require trimming are dangerously close to the power lines, it’s essential to inform the electric utility company managing the lines and ask about the possibility of grounding or de-energizing the lines. Working close to live electric wires not only poses a risk to the one conducting the trimming, but it’s also a risk for fire or electrical hazards.
Assess the area and the weather
Trimming trees can sometimes lead to dangers and hazards due to debris falling on unintended locations or flying off on unplanned trajectories. Before cutting trees around power lines, you should thoroughly inspect the area around.
When it comes to weather, trimming trees in extreme weather conditions like fast winds, lightning or snow may be a recipe for disaster. So instead, trimming trees around power lines should be done in weather conditions that would not alter the planned outcomes of the processes.
Check the structural integrity of trees or branches.
Structural weaknesses on trees or branches may be dangerous when you climb or place ladders against the trees or branches. Failing to check the structural integrity of the trees or branches can set you up for a fall or, even worse, a fall towards power lines.
Use the right tools and clothing for the job.
When trimming trees around electrical lines, the number one principle in choosing tools or clothing is insulation.
From pole tree pruners to loppers, you should always ensure that the tools you use when trimming trees around power lines have handles with thick plastic or rubber insulations. In addition, since most tree trimming tools have most parts made from metal, ensure you always have leather gloves on to act as insulators.
The clothes you wear when trimming trees around power lines should not have any loosely hanging parts. Avoid clothes that will have a lace hanging out or that are a size too large for your fit since any form of discomfort can have you falling or meeting live power lines.