We all love to buy homes with mature lots, full of trees. What's not to love about the added privacy, the natural sound barrier, beautiful green leaves above, and a cooler, shaded home in the summer? Unfortunately, a tree too close to your home can introduce moisture and organics to the roofs surface. If organics are left to spread, rot and deterioration can compromise the integrity of your roofing system, reducing the useful life of your roof shingles. This allows water to seep below the protective underlay, wreaking havoc on the wood below and eventually causing leaks into your home interior. There are, however, steps you can take to prevent roof damage and we're here to answer 6 common questions about protecting your home.
"What kind of damage can a tree do to my house?"
Falling and low-hanging branches can be turned into projectiles: When branches are ripped off of a tree by storm winds, they can cause damage to your roof shingles and the siding on your home. If there are branches that can reach or rub against your roof, they'll wear down the shingle’s protective outer layer. If a lot of bigger branches accumulate on your roof, it can add enough weight to cause stress on your home's overall structure. Damage on this kind of scale is much more likely to happen in the winter months, when branches are weighed down with snow and ice but it can happen any time throughout the year.
Trees produce a lot of leaves, needles and other organics: Here in Nova Scotia we're used to our leaves dropping every Fall, but evergreens can drop needles on your roof all year-round! Walnut trees can barrage your roof with large, dense nuts that can do damage to your roof over time. When you're planning your landscaping, you should avoid planting fruit and nut trees near roofs. Leaves, needles, nuts and fruits can cause your rain gutters downspouts and valleys to clog and collect more debris. This debris build-up holds on to moisture, creating a breeding ground for mold, moss and algae to grow. When that happens it can end up discoloring your shingles and reducing its efficacy and longevity. When you're installing a new roof or having your old roof reshingled, consider using shingles made with algae-resistant technology built-in. You can visit our Products and Services page to view Classic Roofing & Siding Limited's selection of roofing materials to find out which one is the best option for your home and your budget. Leaf guards and seamless gutters are also available to prevent any debris build-up in your gutter or downspouts.
Your tree is casting a little too much shade in your direction: We all like to keep cool in Nova Scotia's humid summer months in a nicely shaded house! Although a little shade is an absolute benefit to help keep the temperatures in your home from climbing, excessive moisture is not. Too much shade makes it difficult for your roof to dry off, which can lead to water sitting in one area. If it never has the opportunity to completely dry, your roof may develop rot, moss, mold and algae.
It allows for animals to gain access: You know that beautiful, mature tree that grows beside your home that you positively love? Well, animals love it too! Squirrels, raccoons and other adventurous animals want to check out everything they can and won't hesitate when it comes to snooping around on your roof. Sometimes it's just a harmless visit but they just might choose your roof as a great place to raise a family! It's way easier to prevent their entry by trimming trees, than it can be to evict unwanted house guests.
The whole tree could come down on your roof: There's a chance your tree could fall if it's damaged, diseased or weakened. To know what signs you should be looking for, keep reading this article and we'll tell you.
"How can I tell if a tree needs to be cut down?"
At the end of the day, if you're unsure about a tree's health you should get in contact with a professional. It's their job to know whether it's time to trim or remove a problem tree, and to come up with a plan for it's safe removal. However, you can still take a proactive approach by regularly inspecting the trees located close to your house. Here are a few indicators to look for that imply your tree may be at risk of causing damage to your roof.
You can see visible splitting in the tree trunk: First off, don't try to secure the tree yourself! A serious split can quickly turn into an emergency situation. When a split tree lets go it can tear right through the rope and into your house. Although there are times where trees with large cracks or splits in their trunks can be saved, it's always better to trust a professional when it comes to the safety of your home. An Arborist is trained to know if the tree is safe in it's current state or needs to be removed right away. To fix a split tree trunk, they may brace a tree with a combination of ropes, splints and bolts.
The bark is peeling off: Unfortunately, if a tree is peeling or the bark is missing the tree might be diseased. Trees naturally have a strong protective layer underneath the bark, but it doesn’t always protect them from getting infections. The barks job is to carry much needed minerals and nutrients up to its leaves. When the bark is damaged, it can't protect the tree and perform it's other much needed functions. Fungi, bacteria and other diseases are now free to run rampant through the tree.
The tree leans to one side: When a tree leans to one side it may be a sign it's going to fall over. Sometimes, the tree becomes encumbered if the canopy isn't balanced and it starts carrying the weight load of the branches on one side. Other times the problem starts at the roots. This happens when the soil conditions aren't allowing for the tree to maintain healthy roots, or to hold on to the soil securely during severe weather. Here are a few things to look for when inspecting the trees on your property
- The tree leans over your house, walkways or driveway. If a leaning tree is close to power lines, junctions or utility poles contact NS Power immediately.
- If your tree abruptly starts leaning
- The lean in your tree is getting worse, or there's a noticeable change
- The tree starts to lean after a storm
- The soil around the bottom of your tree is pushed up
You notice some rotting branches: You can tell from the ground that a branch is rotted out because it's full of cavities, discoloration and decaying wood. Rotten branches should be removed as soon as possible to save the rest of the tree, as rot can quickly spread. If the base of your tree is rotting, the tree should be cut down as soon as possible. Fungus is running amok: Your trees have an immune system, just like you! Comparable to when we try to fight off colds and flu, your trees are combating viruses, bacteria and fungi. If you notice your tree has a fungus, this could be an indicator that the tree is compromised. Most limbs affected by fungi will ultimately die, falling off of the tree. If not, the infected area can spread throughout the entire tree, causing a much larger issue. Fungi are also known for their love of moisture, and when they get a foot hold into your trees it can also be a sign that there is rot in the tree.
Your tree has missing leaves where it shouldn't: If it's Spring or Summer and the Nova Scotia growing season is underway, it's a great time to inspect your trees! You're going to be looking for branches that are missing leaves, either in patches or entire branches. These areas are usually diseased or have somehow been cut-off from it's source of nutrition.
You notice there's some discoloration of the leaves: A lot of the different diseases that will affect your trees start with infecting the leaves. You'll want to look for any changes in color not associated to season change, or you may even see spotting and growths on the leaves. The good news is that this isn't necessarily a death sentence for your trees! Consult a professional for advice about your tree problem to come up with a solution that can save your tree and prevent other trees from being infected.
"How can I prevent tree damage before it happens?"
Prune your trees while they're young: Control the growth of young trees with regular pruning. Prune the tree to create a strong junction between branch and trunk. Weak and narrowed crotches will split apart as the tree matures. Eliminate branches growing at these joints to prevent the wood from breaking or tearing. You'll also want to prune your tree at the canopy (located at the top of the tree) to thin the branches out. This will increase air circulation and allow sunlight to reach the branches below, resulting in better balance and fewer problems with disease and pests. Next, take a good look at the top of the tree. Are there two main branches growing near the top of the tree that look to be equally dominant? These are called co-dominant leaders. By cutting off one it allows for the other branch to grow into a dominant branch. In the future it will prevent the branches from splitting and tearing during heavy winds. Removing the dead, damaged and diseased branches will prevent disease spreading, insect infestation and fungi growth. Cut away any crossing branches to prevent damage. When they start rubbing against one another they can damage each other and compromise the strength of your tree.
Consider professional Tree Trimming: Tree trimming and maintenance is the best method for early prevention against most roof damage from trees. It's a good practice to have all of the tree branches that hang over, or that come too close to your roof, trimmed back. When your taking on overhanging branches, it's best to trust a professional with the job! They know how to protect your roof while they work, so you don't have anything to worry about. Doing it yourself means there's a chance you may end up with exactly what you were trying to avoid - A tree branch hitting your roof! On another note, if you can see that you're going to need to remove more than a quarter of the tree, you're probably going to be better off removing the entire tree. Trimming more than a quarter of the tree compromises it's stability. Without a balanced canopy it's unlikely that your tree would be able to withstand any strong winds, a punishing winter storm, or in extreme cases, a hurricane. Once a tree has been trimmed back that much it's more than likely going to fall over. Clean up any loose debris and organic material from trees you see on your roof: Have any of the organic material and debris that's fallen on to your roof or inside the rain gutters taken care of as soon as you notice it and it's safe for you to do so. If you have a pine tree that drops needles on your roof and gutters all year-round you're probably going to need gutter cleaning services and roof cleaning every few months. At Classic Roofing & Siding Limited we also offer Leaf Guard installation, this product can prevent a large amount of the organics from blocking your gutters and downspouts. Blockages in your eavestroughing can cause water and ice to back up, creating water damage and leaks inside your home and/or icy walkways outside of your home. If your gutters need to be cleaned, properly sloped or replaced, please contact us!
Don't risk it and cut down any unstable trees you see: If you see that any trees on your property are unstable or diseased they should be removed as soon as you can get it done. Don't wait for it to fall onto your roof, or cause damages to a neighboring property. You're liable for the trees on your property and any damages to property caused by them. Make sure to check Halifax Regional Municipality bylaws before you actually cut anything down. In certain cases, the tree species you want cut down is protected and can't be removed. In others, you might run into conditions regarding the removal of trees with a trunk diameter exceeding a certain size. If the tree in question is close to any power lines, junctions or utility poles get in contact NS Power as soon as possible. They may be able to provide the tree trimming service to you free of charge if it does come close to their infrastructure.
"What should I do to prepare for a storm?"
If there's a wind warning or heavy rain storm heading your way, there's a few preventative measures you can take before the storm even hits to protect your home from enduring any roof damage. Taking these steps can mean the difference between only needing small repairs after a storm, or sustaining catastrophic damage to your roofing system.
Inspect your tree for any signs of disease: Using the tips you learned earlier in this article to asses if your tree has fallen ill. Take this opportunity to remove problem branches and trees, before the storm is in full swing and it's not safe to go out and do anything about it.
Trim back any problem areas of the tree: If you see any branches that are too close to the roof or any dead branches, cut them back. You don't want these problematic branches to become projectiles in a windy storm!
Make sure your roof is clear, and that rain gutters and downspouts are flowing properly: If your gutters are clogged and blocked by organic material or other debris during a storm it can cause your downspouts and gutters to back-up and overflow. Also, if your gutters aren't sloped correctly to allow rain water to reach it's intended destination to drain, it will flow over the edges of your gutters. Without the correct angle, you're hoping water will run uphill - which it won't. If you’re doing your gutter cleaning, take a moment and gently remove any leaves, pine needles or debris on your roofing shingles. When your entire roofing system is working together in unison without disruptions, the roofs design will allow water flow to be directed off of the roof and away from your home's foundation.
"What can I do if a tree has already fallen on my house?"
It's time to evacuate your loved ones from your home: When a tree falls on your home it adds a tremendous amount of weight onto your roof! It's time to get out now. Although a tree falling on your home can be localized to one area of the house, your roof is tied in to the other parts of the structure that keep your home architecturally sound. It's best to put safety first and get people and pets out of your home. In case of emergency, get in contact with local emergency services immediately. Once you've gotten everyone to a safe location and the danger of the storm has passed, one of our professional Estimators can assess any of the damages your house has sustained. Not many trees are able to collapse a well-built and maintained home. However, you don't want to risk serious injury or loss of life when it's absolutely preventable.
Cautiously inspect your home for additional damages: Now that the crisis is over and you're deciding how to go forward, start with assessing your home for any damage that needs immediate attention. Don't forget to document anything that's out of place before moving anything! Your insurance company will want to see the damages as they are, before they've been rearranged or repaired in any way. When trees bring down a power line or cause damages to plumbing or gas lines in the home it's time to be extremely careful. If you smell a gas leak, see any water damage, or see any electrical near or submerged in water, it's time to stop your investigation. Stop what you're doing and get out of the area right away. Call emergency services, then call any of the utility companies concerned and request that they shut off service to your home. You can set these services back up when it's no longer a danger to do so and the damages have been fixed by a professional.
Don't forget to call your insurance company: When you call in they'll be able to advise you best on how to make a claim on your insurance policy and what the deductible costs associated with your claim will be. They also might want to send someone out after the storm to investigate your insurance claim, to visually take a look at the damages, and to gather more information. Take pictures and write down any and all damages to your home and property. This includes any damages to: roofing, siding, plumbing, furniture, windows, doors, heat pump equipment and even your lawn. You may want to wait on starting home repairs until your insurance company has confirmed your claim is going through, and you've asked them if there's a budget limit on your repair costs.
Call an experienced Roofing Contractor and an Arborist: It's time to call in the experts! Your first call is going to be to an Arborist that can remove the tree in a safe manner. Once that's been arranged and your insurance has given you the go ahead, it's time to call Classic Roofing & Siding Limited! We can fix any of the damages the tree may have caused to your home. Whether it's roofing or siding repairs and any structural repair or finishing work that's needed, Classic has got you covered!
"Are there roofing options that are more resistant to tree damage than others?"
Although you might think a metal roof will stand up to damage better than other kinds of roofing materials, that’s not always the case. Metal roofing has a waterproof finish that scratches similar to how a roofing shingle can from falling branches. They can also sustain dents under the weight of branches and trees.
At the end of the day, all roofing materials made today can be subject to some kind of damage from trees. By following the tips covered in this article and practicing proactive tree care you can prevent a lot of roof damage. If you still have concerns, consult a professional about the trees on your property. Knowledge is power, and you have the ability to give yourself complete peace of mind knowing what's safe or if they need to be trimmed or cut down. Make sure to keep a clean roof and rain gutter system to provide appropriate drainage on your roof. If you notice that your roofing has already sustained damage or you want to update an old roof to a superior roofing material, we've got the right solution for your roofing needs!
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Classic Roofing & Siding Limited provides Roofing, Fascia, Soffit, Siding, Windows, Cladding, Doors, Trim, Decks, Home Exterior Renovations, in Halifax, Bedford, Dartmouth and the surrounding communities of Nova Scotia.