What Do You Do After a Tree Falls on Your House? Ultimate Guide

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If a tree has fallen on your house, you need answers fast. What do you do after a tree falls on your house? Are you safe to stay in it? Who do you call? Real experts answer all these questions and more right here.
We’re Cleaner Guys, a professional home damage restoration company with more than 20 years of experience. One of our specialties is doing all of the cleanup and restoration required after a tree strike. We see these kinds of situations all the time. In fact, this article includes a video of the dramatic tree damage at one of our recent job sites! In this article, we’re breaking down everything you need to know and do after a tree hits your home.

Table of Contents

First 4 Things to Do After a Tree Falls on Your House

We’ve seen many, many fallen tree situations handled improperly, and we don’t want that for you. After a tree strike, you should do each of these steps, in this order. It will ensure that in the moment of adrenaline, you don’t miss anything important.
If a tree falls on your home, you should:

  1. Get all residents out of the house and to some other safe shelter.
  2. Take photos of the damage from as many angles as you can.
  3. Call 911, then your insurance company, then a tree remover, then a home damage restoration company, and possibly a plumber or a roofer.
  4. Wait to go into the house until a professional says that it’s safe to do so.

Let’s break each of these steps down a bit more, so that you can understand why each of them is important to do, and in this particular order.

1. Getting all residents out of the house

It’s important to immediately vacate the home before anything else. You can’t know what the tree may have hit that could harm you. A tree that has pierced your home may have damaged electrical wires or conduits, which could cause accidental electrocution, sparks, or even fire. A major tree strike may also have broken or burst plumbing in the home. This may cause dirty grey or black water to contaminate the home, which is not healthy for people.

NOTE: Vacating the house may not be necessary if the tree just landed on the house, but did not seriously damage it. But if the tree damage is major, and any part of the tree has pierced into your home, it is safest to vacate the home until a professional has determined that it will not be hazardous for you to return.

Click here for a full, more detailed list of all the things in your house that a tree can damage.

2. Taking photos of the damage

Taking photos of the damage is crucial for any insurance claims you may later make. Insurance companies do not like to shell out money for home damage they’re not certain of. Taking many photos, from many angles, immediately after the damage, will help ensure that you get the help you need from them.

This is by far the most overlooked step when dealing with tree damage, but its neglect is always the most sorely regretted, in our experience.

Don’t forget: you can call 911 and take photos at the same time! Or call 911, and then take photos, and then call your insurance company. That’s up next.

3. Calling all the right people

We have an entire article breaking down the right people to call after a tree strike, and why, which we encourage you to check out here for more detailed information on the right people to call after this specific kind of accident.
However, we will also give a nutshell breakdown here.

You should call 911 first because the city and emergency response teams need to come make sure that the tree did not take down any power lines with it, or damage infrastructure like roads or sidewalks. They’re the ones who would fix that.

You should call your insurance company second to get the ball rolling early on a claim. A tree removal company should be your third call, because you’re going to need the tree out of the way before any cleanup or restoration can commence!
Your fourth call should be to a home damage restoration company like Cleaner Guys. They’re the ones who remove all the debris and restore your home to the way it was! In some instances, your insurance company may have a preferred restoration company that they refer you to, in which case you won’t need to make this call yourself.
Lastly, you may need to call a roofer, a plumber, and/or an electrician, depending on what the tree damaged. Prepare to make all these calls, in this order!

4. Staying out of the house until approved to return

Staying out of the house until a professional gives you the okay to return is important for your safety. As previously mentioned, electrical components may be damaged, which can potentially cause risk of electrocution, sparks, or even fire. Additionally, the tree may damage plumbing, causing water damage, and that water may be contaminated and dirty, like grey water or black water. You don’t want to come in direct contact with contaminated water like that.

A Tree Strike Can Cause Other Types of Damage

You’ve already read about it a couple of times now throughout this article, but a tree strike may often cause other types of home damage, not just exterior damage. Water damage is the most common, because fallen trees often rupture or crack plumbing in the walls and ceilings, leading to water gushing out everywhere. Fire damage is also possible, from disrupted electrical conduits or components.

Because of these risks, it is wisest to choose a home damage restoration company that can cover all these kinds of damage! Not all restoration companies have the expertise to restore tree strike damage, water damage, and fire damage. Some restoration companies specialize only in water damage, or only in fire damage.

To save yourself the headache of hiring and scheduling multiple restoration companies for different possible kinds of damage, be sure to ask each company you call whether they can handle all these kinds of damage!

(Note: While Cleaner Guys is an excellent choice in this matter, we currently only service Washington State. If you don’t live in Washington State, you’ll have to refer to our guide to picking a restoration company.)

What to Expect From the Cleanup and Restoration Process

The longest part of the process of getting back to normal after a tree strike is unfortunately the restoration of the home. Restoring a tree-damaged home usually includes tearing out damaged drywall, insulation, ceilings, flooring, plumbing, cabinetry, and even framing. Then, all of those materials must be replaced! The process can take days, weeks, or sometimes months, depending on how bad the damage is. But, it is the only way to return a tree-damaged home to its condition before the loss.

The video below is an extreme example of some particularly terrible tree damage that we here at Cleaner Guys have just been called to handle. One of our directors, Bob Shupe, walks us through the damage the tree caused, and what we’re going to have to do to fix it! Take a look.

Not all tree damage is this severe, of course. So, what does the cleanup process look like for tree damage, when it’s not so severe that the entire house needs to be replaced? Here are the basic steps of tree damage restoration.

Step 1: Initial Assessment and Estimate

After you hire a home damage restoration company to repair the tree damage, the first thing they will do is set up a time with you to visit the home and assess the damage. They’ll take measurements and determine how much material is damaged, and how much it will cost to replace it (including labor hours).
Then, they’ll send you (and your insurance company, if applicable), an estimate of how much it will cost to repair all the damage. Once you accept an estimate, you will sign a work authorization that gives them permission to work on your property, and repairs can begin.

Step 2: Removal of Damaged Materials

Once repairs start, the first thing the restoration technicians will need to do is remove all the materials that are too damaged to be saved. This may include drywall, insulation, flooring, cabinetry, framing, and more. If possible, the area the damage occurred will be contained first, with plastic walls. This keeps debris from getting everywhere else in the house that isn’t damaged or dirty.

Step 3: Cleaning and Restoration

The third step of repairing the tree strike damage will be cleaning the area and then restoring new materials. If there is water damage from rain or broken plumbing, that will need to be repaired first. After all the damage is taken care of, the area should be thoroughly cleaned. Then new drywall, framing, insulation, cabinetry, plumbing, etc. is installed.
After that, there’s just a final cleaning, and everything is restored to the way it was before the tree strike!

Can You Stay in Your House After It’s Been Hit By a Tree?

If the tree caused major damage to your home, and parts of the tree pierced into your home, it’s best to leave the house until a professional — like the emergency response team or the restoration company — tells you it’s safe to return. This is because a major tree strike that has broken into the house can potentially damage electrical components or plumbing inside the house. Damaged electrical components pose the risk of accidental electrical fire or electrocution. Damaged plumbing can cause water contamination from grey or black water, which is unhealthy and even risky to be near.

If the tree damage was minimal and only damaged the exterior, you should probably be fine to stay in your home.

As far as staying in your home during the restoration process, that depends on the extent of the damage. If the tree only damaged a small or unused area of your home, like a back bedroom or the attic, it may be possible to stay in your house while it’s being repaired. However, if the tree broke into and damaged major living areas, like the living room, kitchen, or your only bathroom, then you will most likely need to stay somewhere else while your home is being repaired.

More Resources

Tree strike damage often comes with other forms of damage, as well as other questions. Check out these other popular articles from our archives that may help you! Or, visit our full blog for even more information!

Is water damage covered by insurance? ➜

What is a restoration company? Is it the same thing as a construction company? (And why the difference matters) ➜

What do you do if a water pipe bursts? Find out here. ➜

Some of the technicians at Cleaner Guys, ready to help repair your tree strike damage!

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only. No part of this article is medical or legal advice, and may not be used as such. For all serious medical matters, consult your doctor. For all serious legal matters, consult your legal advisor. This article contains Cleaner Guys’ experience and opinions only.

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