Large mature trees provide shade in the summer and beautiful foliage in the fall. However, they can also be a year round hazard to your home. The fall and winter seasons are especially difficult times for large trees. In some states, fall is the peak of the hurricane season where high winds can topple over trees and bring down branches weighing hundreds of pounds.
Premature snow storms can do similar damage when they hit before the leaves have had a chance to drop from the trees. During the winter, there is the ever present threat of ice storm damage. Prevent insurance claims by identifying problems before they cause damage to your home and property. Look for these warning signs.
Branches that join the trunk in a V-shaped fork are very weak. This is also true for branches that join other branches. This is because tree bark gets ingrown deep into the fork which provides no structural support. If the junction is U-shaped, then it is strong.
The V-shaped fork is very common to fast growing tree species. Sometimes the trunk of a tree may split into two trunks where they join in a V-shape. These are especially hazardous because the tree can split in half where the trunks join together.
Large dead branches get progressively weaker with time until they get knocked down by a storm. The signs of a dead branch are fairly clear since they will have no leaves on them during the summer.
Trees with branches that have few leaves growing on them or have sections with brown leaves during the summer are likely to be diseased. Other signs of disease are fungus growing on the base of the trunk next to the ground or fungus growing out of the trunk and branches. Also look for cavities and rotten wood in the trunk and roots.
This means damage inflicted by high forces such as winds or heavy loading from ice or snow. This damage occurs in the form of cracks and splits in the wood. Look for damage in the trunk, the branches and where branches join the trunk. These cracks and splits often become the entry point for disease.
If you find a potential problem with one of your trees, get it resolved before Mother Nature brings it down and damages your property. While your homeowners insurance can cover tree damage to your property, prevention is always the best course of action.