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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    Default Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    I need to be able to get onto my roof. I have an extension ladder that is plenty long enough, but I don't feel comfortable making the transition between the ladder and the roof. In particular, one of the rules of ladder safety is to never extend your reach to a point where your center of gravity extends beyond the ladder's legs -- and thus I don't feel comfortable stepping off the ladder "sideways."

    Do you know of a product (such as an extension) that allows for this transition while at the same time doesn't violate this safety rule? For example, is there such a thing as an extension ladder with "missing" rungs at the top that would allow you to step onto the roof while still maintaining a hold on the legs?

    I guess I should also mention that my roof is low pitch. The eave is about 10 feet above the surface where I would mount the ladder.
    Last edited by cschofer; 09-03-2011 at 05:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    Your concerns are unfounded, unless you're extremely uncoordinated and accident prone, then the safest thing you can do is stay off your roof.

    As long as the ladder has firm footing, is set at the proper angle, and is resting squarely against the roofs edge, it is perfectly safe to step around the side of the ladder to make the ladder to roof transition. If you'd like a little more security, then I would suggest installing some anchor points into the fascia and tying the ladder off.

    BTW, stepping around the side of the ladder is far safer than trying to step over the top rung, even if there is a rung or two missing to give you better hand holds. The only exception to this is a welded escape ladder that is designed for this purpose.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    Yes, it does look like you did your homework about ladder safety, but maybe a little too well...enough to make you worried.

    If you follow these standard precautions, you'll be OK, whether you have a one story house or a two story house:

    - position the base of the ladder at a distance which is about 1/4 of the verticle height of the ladder, in a secure manner.
    - Max length of the ladder is 44 ft.
    - ladder should extend about 3 ft above its resting point.
    - you can install ladder supporters for added safety, so it doesn't slide from side to side.
    - don't set metal ladders near electrical wires.
    - in wet conditions, better not use a ladder.

    As Spruce mentioned, sometimes it's better to let a pro do the rooftop work. After all, roof injuries are the nastiest of all injuries.

    Stay safe.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
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    32

    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    Thanks. Aside from the ladder supports, I did a "dry run" that included all of your recommendations. I even took the added step of attaching some bungee cords to the gutter supports for added stability as per a YouTube video I watched (though I can't remember which one). My ladder was going nowhere!

    All that said, I climbed up the ladder with no problems at all... but couldn't quite work up the nerve to transition to the roof knowing that the transition back to the ladder would be worse.

    Anyway... I really prefer to do my own house maintenance, especially since my house has a low pitch roof and isn't all that far off the ground (one story), but if I can't get used to it, I guess I'll hire someone.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    It is best to access the roof from a gable rather than a gutter line. You can too easily damage the gutter, especially now-a-days with the use of aluminum seamless gutters which are extremely fragile. It's actually easier to make the transition back and forth when you're stepping sideways onto the slope, the ladder is already angled a little bit towards the slope, so it makes the transition a little closer than trying to step behind the ladder.

    I wouldn't recommend connecting to gutter supports either, while they do a great job of holding gutters in place, they are not designed for side loading, which is what you're doing when you tie a ladder off to them. If one of the gutter supports comes unhooked from the gutter you can all too easily find yourself in a pile on the ground with the ladder and gutter laying neatly on top of you.

    Another tip that can make ladder transitions easier is if you can set them in a valley section of the roof, where you step directly to the side of the ladder. You just have to be slightly more careful that you don't push the ladder away from you as you do it.

    Finally, while we can appreciate you liking to do your own maintenance and repairs, keep in mind that a trip to the ER is far more expensive than hiring a licensed and insured professional for more dangerous things that you're not really comfortable with.

    Stay safe!
    Last edited by A. Spruce; 09-04-2011 at 01:50 PM.
    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    If the only place to put the ladder is against a gutter, I always place the ladder where there is a gutter nail. This way I don't damage or dent the gutter.

    When you reach the top and put one leg on the roof, your other leg and weight are still on the ladder. Quickly shift your weight to that leg and step up - and you're on the roof.

    If you have a block wall around your house, you may want to practice on the fence.

    Spruce, I wish you and everybody else a nice and safe labor day.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    May 2008
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    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    It's a little hard to describe, but if you want to set up a ladder on a gable end against the sloping edge of the roof, you don't want the ladder rungs to be parallel with the wall (as you would leaning it against the gutter). Doing so may cause the ladder to twist, lose stability and fall sideways in the downslope direction of the roof.

    Instead, you want the rungs to be at a slight angle to the wall (though still level -- your ladder rungs must always be level!). The idea is that when you pull the ladder away from the roofline (with the feet firmly on the ground) and return it, you want the rails to touch the roofline at the same time.

    You can test the stability of your ladder setup by placing one foot on the bottom of the ladder, and slowly tilting the ladder away from the wall until it is standing nearly straight up. The rungs must be level and the rails must be plumb side-to-side; if they lean when you pull the ladder away from the wall, you must reposition the ladder. Gently return the ladder against the wall. The rails must meet the wall at the same time; if not, you must reposition the ladder. This will test that both feet are evenly and firmly planted on the ground, and that there will be no twisting which could cause a foot to come off the ground.

    If you have a hard time telling whether the angle is correct, just look at the rungs. The flat part on top should be level.

    You should ALWAYS test the stability of the ladder, even if you have a helper holding it to give you confidence. (I'm not a big fan of having someone hold the ladder; for some reason it makes me more nervous. But then, I've never had a fear of heights.) Once a ladder starts going, it's unlikely that a helper could stop it anyway; at least make sure they have a phone to call 911.
    Last edited by Fencepost; 09-03-2011 at 07:08 PM.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  8. #8
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    jkirk, you're right about those "how to" vids. Some of them are simply dangerous, and should not be allowed on YT.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    Ladder stabilizer

    $25

    Help us name our new Hidden Content

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ladder Safety -- Roof Access

    Lloyd, it's better to have a working platform ...

    I suffer from CDO ... Its like OCD, but in alphabetical order, LIKE IT SHOULD BE!!!

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