Tree Stump over electric lines

Asked May 14, 2015, 11:32 AM EDT

I have a tree stump near the side of my house that I want to get rid of. It's not a huge tree, more like a weed that grew in to a tree for years before I owned the house. I called the electric company to mark where electric runs and they marked right on the stump meaning there's electric running right under. So this will be difficult to remove manually. Any suggestions?

McHenry County Illinois

1 Response

Thank you for sending your question to eXtension.

First of all, I salute you for thinking ahead and checking for underground utilities! I've read too many stories about people getting hurt, blowing up neighborhoods, and having other unpleasant things happen to them because they didn't take this step before doing yard work.

This job may require cooperation between your utility company and your tree service. It's possible that your tree company will need to arrange to have the electricity (or other service...the company that checks for underground utilities also locate water, sewer, and gas) cut off temporarily while they remove the stump. Then, once the stump is removed and the underground service checked for nicks or leaks, the service can be turned back on.

Another alternative is that the tree service, knowing about the underground utility, can grind the stump shallowly, to just under the soil surface. This will get rid of the visible stump, yet stay clear of the utility line itself.

A third alternative is to simply use a chainsaw and cut the stump to the ground, and let it rot on its own. Eventually, you can fill in the hole with some topsoil.

As you can see, I definitely think you need to have a professional arborist involved in this project. While this will probably be expensive, I think it's necessary from a safety and liability standpoint. I'd look for someone who advertises that they are a Certified Arborist or, better yet, a Certified Arborist Utility Specialist. The CAUS has over 2000 hours of experience working with trees around electric utilities, and would be the most knowledgeable person to do the work. You can learn more about this certification here: http://www.isa-arbor.com/certification/index.aspx. You can then search for an arborist in your area by going to this page: http://www.isa-arbor.com/findanarborist/findanarborist.aspx .

I hope this helps. Please let me know if you have any other questions.