What to Do When a Tree or Branch Falls on Your Roof

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated June 15, 2021
The exterior of a house with a big tree in the garden
Photo: Photographee.eu / Adobe Stock

Follow these eight steps if a tree falls on your roof

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A fallen tree is one of the scariest things that can happen to a homeowner. While you may feel frozen in uncertainty after howling winds bring down a tree, it's important to get the situation assessed quickly. Here are the steps to take if a tree damages your roof.

1. Treat It Like an Emergency Even if It Doesn't Look Catastrophic

A fallen tree or branch may not seem like a big deal at first. However, it's always better to act quickly than let safety slip through the cracks. Staying in the home could put you at risk if the fallen tree compromised your roof's structure. Get out of the house as quickly as possible if it's safe to go outside.

2. Call 911

Police and first responders still consider it an emergency even if nobody was hurt. Your town's emergency services department may want to send out a fire crew to assess the situation. They may also want to send a representative from the utility company to ensure that the damage isn't jeopardizing any nearby lines.

3. Wait Until the Storm Is Over to Worry About an Assessment

Fragment of a house over a red maple tree
Photo: karamysh / Adobe Stock

If a tree comes down on your roof in a storm, prioritize safety over "fixing." There will be plenty of time to have a pro look at your home to assess the extent of the damage once the weather has cleared.

Never try to climb on the roof to assess tree damage to your roof. You also shouldn't attempt to remove the tree from your roof. First, your roof could be slippery in storm conditions. Windy conditions and low visibility can also put you in danger.

The tree may have compromised the integrity of your roof. That means you'll walk on a potentially unstable structure that could technically collapse with the slightest amount of extra pressure. Don't forget that there's also a risk for additional trees to fall if you're in the middle of wild weather.

4. Let Your Homeowners' Insurance Company Know

It's time to worry about practical considerations once you've confirmed that everyone is safe. Place a call to your insurance agent to let them know what happened. You can also consider taking some pictures from a safe distance while the damage is still fresh.

5. Make Accommodations if You Need to Leave Your Home

You may not be able to stay in your home until you have your damaged roof repaired. Be sure to ask your insurance agent about coverage for temporary accommodations. Your plan may even provide a stipend for clothes, toiletries, and essentials if you can't go back into your home to retrieve items.

6. Give Fair Warning

If you need to evacuate your home temporarily, it's important to let others know that your property is unsafe. Consider putting up some "warning" tape or signage. This is important for protecting visitors and delivery people who might walk up to your door.

7. Find a Tree Removal Service

Repairs cannot begin on your roof until you have the fallen tree removed. Shop around for local tree removal services to safely remove the tree from your property. Most companies that provide removal also provide stump grinding.

This is also an excellent time to have your yard assessed for any other trees that pose dangers. A landscaping expert can help you use landscaping techniques to prevent tree damage. If your yard is heavily wooded, consider regular tree service.

8. Find a Reputable Roofing Contractor

The final step is finding a local roofing contractor to provide an estimate for roof repair. In some cases, damage from a tree or branch only requires some minor repairs and replacements for shingles. However, you may need to replace your entire roof.

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