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Ladder on a sloped roof?


FirstyLast
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I have a situation where there is some wooden trim deteriorating on a house that is otherwise hardi-plank. This trim is located right under the shingles of the roof, its the small 5/8" X 2" wood trim all around the roof. The area is on the upper gable of the roof, on a 2 story house, and the only access is by standing on the first level of roof, whose slope is okay for standing on, but not sure about placing a ladder on. I cant reach the trim piece by standing, its just too far out of reach, so I have to use a ladder I guess.

Is there any way to support a ladder or block the legs, or tie it off to prevent the feet from slipping on the slope? Its a good aluminum extension ladder with the rubber footed grip treads on the ends, but I was thinking nailing a 2X across the lower roof, to rest the bottom of the ladder against to keep it from slipping on the slope of the lower roof, but dont want to poke holes in my roof with nails, so any ideas? I heard a roof jack, but dont know what that is. I do appreciate your wisdom.

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Hi,

Jim is right, this isn't something that someone who isn't literally an expert with ladders and roofs should ever attempt. I'm guessing that you're a homeowner, in which case I don't think you should try this. You can probably hire a local handyman to do this for very little - far less than an extended stay in the hospital, or months out of work with a broken limb, or even death, will cost you. Before you hire Billy Bob though, make sure he's got his own insurance policy, or, if he is injured or killed, it will be you that gets sued.

The piece of "trim" that you describes sounds like the edge support used as a drip edge under the shingles at the perimeter of roofs. It enables the roofer to extend the shingles a little bit beyond the actual frame of the structure, thus making it less likely that rain clinging to the underside of the edge of the roof can reach the roof deck and framing. The fact that the trim is rotting, tells you that it's doing its job; the only problem is that whoever installed it probably didn't prime and paint it on all sides and edges before installing it and water absorbed into the unprotected back surface has caused it to rot away.

Nailing a cleat to the roof to brace the base of the ladder will only leave a few holes. These can easily be repaired with a putty knife, some roofing mastic, and a few pieces of pre-painted metal flashings. Once you've pried the cleat off the surface, use the putty knife to gently separate the top layer of shingles from those below; daub some mastic onto the holes in the underlying shingles, center a piece of flashing over the mastic while slipping it up under the overlapping shingle, apply a quarter-sized dollop of mastic to the hole on the underside of the overlapping shingle and within an inch of each corner of the overlapping shingle tab and then press the overlapping shingle tab into the mastic. Once the mastic cures, it'll be fine.

Now, a little discussion about this ladder on roof thing. The following is not meant for those inspector's whose knees shake when you climb a six foot stepladder or climb up onto a table. In fact, if you aren't almost as comfortable working on roofs and ladders as you are on the ground, stop reading right now and never under any circumstance try to inspect a roof from anywhere but the ground with binoculars because you shouldn't even be on a ladder.

The answer as to whether one can place a ladder on a lower roof to get to a higher roof, without nailing a board to the roof to prevent the ladder from slipping, really depends on the pitch of the roof, the type of gripping surface on the ladder, and the material the roof cover is made from. With the right type of ladder, it's possible, up to a certain pitch, to place a ladder on a lower comp roof or wood shingle or shake roof but I'd never try it with a metal roof, stone or tile roof.

I use a little giant type compacting ladder. It's got splayed legs which give it good lateral stability and the grippers on the ends of that ladder are angled in such a way that it will grip a lower roof with up to about a 2:12 pitch very strongly without the need for a cleat, as long as you are using the ladder at it's maximum steepest angle. That means there's no room for error; you've got to go straight up the ladder without leaning backward and must keep your weight centered straight down into the roof. You also can't lean on any portion of the ladder that extends beyond the gutter as you're getting on or off the ladder or you'll kick the base of the ladder out. Place the base of the ladder too far from the wall of the house, and those grippers are no longer directing weight straight down into the roof surface, but away from the house, and the bottom of the ladder is liable to kick out. If you don't know how to comfortably get on and off the top of a ladder without clinging to the top of that ladder and leaning on it, don't even attempt it - you're out of your depth.

Extension ladders tend to be very long and narrow with poor lateral stability and how well the grippers on the ends of an extension ladder can grip a lower roof depends on how they're hinged and secured to the end of the ladder. Personally, I wouldn't try it without nailing a cleat to the roof below to brace the bottom of the ladder.

Like I said, one has to be an expert at scaling roofs and using a ladder to do this. Obviously, if you aren't, you shouldn't even try it.

Now, FirstyLast, if you try this and are injured, after being warned by us that it's not something that an amateur should attempt, remember that we advised you against attempting it.

ONE TEAM - ONE FIGHT!!!

Mike

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Originally posted by hausdok

Now, FirstyLast, if you try this and are injured, after being warned by us that it's not something that an amateur should attempt, remember that we advised you against attempting it.

Mike

I agree with the above statement.

So, perhaps you should re-consider posting instructions about installing a cleat and patching the holes.... [;)]

Originally posted by hausdok

Nailing a cleat to the roof to brace the base of the ladder will only leave a few holes. These can easily be repaired with a putty knife, some roofing mastic, and a few pieces of pre-painted metal flashings...

Dom

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Thank you gentlemen for the advice. I am the homeowner, and this is my house that I'm looking at. Maybe I'll just rent a cherry picker or something. I asked this question with the knowledge that the advice was just that, advice, and I hereby hold no one responsible for offering suggestions. In fact, I appreciate it greatly.

My neighbor has a similar roof, and he just had his wife sit at the bottom and hold the ladder while he climbed up and hung the christmas lights, How about that one? LOL!!!!

I dont think I would survive that one, but my ladder probably would.

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Originally posted by Inspectorjoe

This was in my local paper the other morning. Her age is not a typo.

Woman, 83, dies after falling from roof

About a year ago I was inspecting a house for an older couple. I had put my ladder to the roof and gone up, was looking around on the back slope, when I came back to the front side there was Mr. Kim, 87 years old, WEARING HOUSE SLIPPERS, sweeping the leaves off the roof.[:-bigeyes

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The answer as to whether one can place a ladder on a lower roof to get to a higher roof, without nailing a board to the roof to prevent the ladder from slipping, really depends on the pitch of the roof

I agree with everyting Mike stated regarding using a ladder to get from roof to roof. One thing not touched on is how high above the roof you should extend that ladder.

The reason I bring this up, is that I uhhhh have some experience with this one. I am one of those that will drag my extension ladder up from the lower roof line to the upper roof line (same ladder used for both). 2:12 or less would be smart. I had a 3+:12 slope roof where the ladder kicked out on me- -it's a good idea to have quite a bit of the ladder extending above the roof line, so you have time to catch something if the ladder starts sliding out at the base.

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Brandon,

And with good reason. Forget about extending the top of your ladder about the roofline. It is about as worthy of discussion as: "Who made the finest buggy whip in 1919?".

For just a shade over $30.00, you can buy a Ladder Stabilizer.

It is a neoprene-tipped, "U-shaped" aluminum bracket easily affixed to the top of your ladder and it is easily THE single smartest investment I ever made in my life. It makes roof-climbing MUCH safer for HI's. Buy one, and if you regret the purchase, mail it to me and I'll refund all of your costs in cash. No ladder-monkey should be without one.

No foolin',

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Brandon,

And with good reason. Forget about extending the top of your ladder about the roofline. It is about as worthy of discussion as: "Who made the finest buggy whip in 1919?".

For just a shade over $30.00, you can buy a Ladder Stabilizer.

It is a neoprene-tipped, "U-shaped" aluminum bracket easily affixed to the top of your ladder and it is easily THE single smartest investment I ever made in my life. It makes roof-climbing MUCH safer for HI's. Buy one, and if you regret the purchase, mail it to me and I'll refund all of your costs in cash. No ladder-monkey should be without one.

No foolin',

There is a quick connect model also. I've got it and two of the u-shaped.

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Originally posted by Jim Morrison

Here's my wisdom (and I don't mean to be unkind): but you've got no business working on a roof if you don't know the answers to those questions. Chances are very good you will hurt yourself, possibly quite seriously.

My thoughts exactly.

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  • 1 year later...

I would not advise anyone to do something dangerous, but just a few thoughts:

1) If time or money is an issue or you're just a compulsive do-it-yourselfer, one safety option is to hire a pro to install permanent fall arrest anchors at the roof ridges and on the wall of your house. This lets you do it yourself on the roof or ladders safely wearing fall arrest equipment.

2) I hired a painter once who painted the walls above the pitched roofs on my house using a little stepladder-looking device with adjustable legs, designed to provide a level surface for a longer ladder. I don't know if he made it or bought it, although it looked manufactured. Here's something similar: http://www.provisiontools.com/pivit/. Although that painter didn't use fall arrest gear, I'd recommend it for any ladder work over a few feet, and always on a roof.

3) In hurricane states like Florida after a hurricane, you'll have trouble getting your insurance company to respond, much less hiring someone to do anything to your house for at least a month. So your only option for replacing shingles that blow off or repairing (even temporarily) any damage is to get up there and do it yourself!

43) I agree that safety should always come first, but I have to wonder how one becomes a "ladder expert" if not by asking advice from people with experience . . . ? It's really not helpful if the answer is, "You can't get there from here" . . .

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43) I agree that safety should always come first, but I have to wonder how one becomes a "ladder expert" if not by asking advice from people with experience . . . ? It's really not helpful if the answer is, "You can't get there from here" . . .

I learned about ladders and ladder safety while in the fire department. They have lots of rules about ladders. They use ladders in dangerous situations on a daily basis and dont' want to rescue their own. OSHA has a book available that is all about how to do things safely. Home Inspectors use ladders but do not necessarily have the deepest knowledge base about "safely" using ladders. Go to real experts, OSHA and NFPA.

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43) I agree that safety should always come first, but I have to wonder how one becomes a "ladder expert" if not by asking advice from people with experience . . . ?

Home Inspectors use ladders but do not necessarily have the deepest knowledge base about "safely" using ladders. Go to real experts, OSHA and NFPA.

Amen to that. Firemen have ladder safety training we can all learn from.

Inspectors only need to get up and down once, they are in a rush most of the time, and they tend to bring short ladders where a tall one would be safer.

As a home owner, you can take the time to prep the area and make it safe. A safety rope is a must.

Build a scaffold if necessary. We used to use metal straps up under the shingles and attached to the sheathing with screws. Then we'd wrap the lower ends of the straps around a 2X4. Sometimes we'd leave the straps there when done, tucked away for next time.

I have scared myself enough with the ladder-on-the-roof drill. I now bring a 28' extension ladder, (stretches to 25') for 2-storey jobs. If I'm climbing off at the top, I'll hook it to the gutter with a bungy. That makes getting back on way safer, and it's quick. I've found the long ladder to be actually faster.

Edit:Vise-grips? Wow, that's a good one, Jim!

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. . . If I'm climbing off at the top, I'll hook it to the gutter with a bungy. That makes getting back on way safer, and it's quick. I've found the long ladder to be actually faster.

When I was just starting, another local inspector gave me the single best piece of advice I've ever been given. He told me to buy a pair of Vise Grip Welding clamps and use them to pin my ladder to the edge of the gutter. It makes a very firm connection that won't skid about and makes the process of stepping on and off the ladder much safer.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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  • 3 weeks later...

Here's my wisdom (and I don't mean to be unkind): but you've got no business working on a roof if you don't know the answers to those questions. Chances are very good you will hurt yourself, possibly quite seriously.

hahaha... i couldnt have put it better my self.

Get a proffesional in!!!

My name is Phil Thomson from Guardian Roofing here in Australia.

Cheers

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  • 1 year later...

This is my first post here. I just put in a bid to do the window cleaning on 62 condos. If I get it, the only way I can get to some of the windows is to take a ladder up to the first floor sloped roof, and then climb that ladder to get to the windows. The problem is that the roof the ladder will be on is slightly sloped. It is not steep, but I'm not completely sure the ladder would not slip. I tried putting the ladder up and going up a few rungs to see if it was stable. It seemed to be fine, but you never know what can happen.

Have you guys ever had a situation like this? Do you know any tricks or tips I can use to make sure the ladder won't slip? I have the pivot tool, and I could put that at the base of the ladder, but I'm not sure that would hold it. Anyways, I appreciate any help!

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