What is a safe process for getting a roof ladder on and off the roof?

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    How many stories to the roof? What's the roof pitch? – Jay Bazuzi Jan 15 '11 at 19:21
  • @jay 1 story, about 35 degree pitch – Walker Jan 16 '11 at 15:55

Ok Walker, here's the scoop. beg, borrow or rent two extension ladders, ladder jacks and a walking pick. (wide plank that fits into ladder jacks). This will form a stable staging a few of feet below the roof soffit. Calculate the length of the roof and adjust your roof ladder accordingly. TIE OFF the rungs of the roof ladder, if using an extension ladder, so it cannot disconnect from the adjustable height locking hooks. Lean it up against your pick, climb up on the pick and carefully drag the roof ladder up and over the pick to the roof. The other advantage of using a pick is that you can work along several feet of the roof, moving your roof ladder as you go. Most picks are 10 to 18 feet in length and can be equipped with a safety railing. Check out your local rental center. Be Safe.

Pics and procedures for using ladder jacks and staging (picks): http://www.ehow.com/about_5046018_ladder-jack.html

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  • Some images would change this good answer into a great answser. (I think names of the ladder bits are not in same in the USA and the UK.) – Walker Jan 17 '11 at 11:52
  • check the link I added to my answer. good pics and step by step directions for use. – shirlock homes Jan 17 '11 at 12:28

Scaffolding + roof brackets ( http://www.homedepot.com/h_d1/N-5yc1v/R-202059624/h_d2/ProductDisplay?langId=-1&storeId=10051&catalogId=10053 ) are what I use. If you are trying to do serious work, I'd recommend something similar. If you end up getting roof brackets, MAKE SURE there is a bracket within the last 2-ft (preferably within the last 1-ft) of the board that lays across them. You don't want to step near the end of the board, only to have it give way unexpectedly.

If you're just trying to install a flashing or something like that, though, then this roof ladder would be fine. I would throw a rope over the roof and attach it to a tree (not a truck that someone can accidentally get in and drive; if you HAVE to use a vehicle, make sure you have the keys in your pocket) -- just make sure it's not at an angle with the roof's ridge... you want it directly across the ridge from where you need to work. If the rope is at an angle, and if you fall, you're going to get dragged sideways. Attaching to a tree isn't OSHA approved -- probably because if you walk around all day using this type of setup, the rope will wear up at the ridge of the roof. If you're just going straight up and down, however, no ladder can beat a harness, whether it's OSHA-approved or not. If you don't have a harness, no biggie... just walk up using the rope to help, using an extension ladder to first get up on the roof. There are various ways to get the roof ladder up at that point. If you tie it to the end of your rope, and if someone helps guide it from the extension ladder, you should be able to pull it up with the rope.

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For a 1-story roof, you may be tempted to climb up an 8' step ladder. You'd have to step on the label that says "don't step here". This is pretty risky. If you do this, have 2 adults below to spot you & hold the ladder & call 9-1-1.

A safer approach is to use an extension ladder.

You want it to be long enough to extend beyond the roof edge, so you can go sideways instead of over.

Get stable footing. A flat, paved driveway will hold a ladder better than a wet, muddy or grassy hillside. Don't let the ladder tilt to one side. Do make sure the feet won't slip.

Have an assistant to stabilize the ladder as you climb, and help in an emergency.

Avoid carrying things up and down the ladder. They keep a hand busy that you want for climbing, and they can fall. Better to attach things to your belt or haul them up in a bucket on a string.

Watch out below! Whenever someone is working at elevation, there's a chance of something falling and hurting someone below. Keep kids clear. Hard hats pretty cheap and do a good job. Secure your tools as best you can.

If you're going to be up for any length of time, get a safety line. You can use a climbing harness, but a full-body harness is safer because it keeps you upright in a fall. Ideally secure it to the top of the roof. Less-than-ideal is to throw the line over the house and tie to a tree on the other side.

If you're going to climb up and down a lot in the same spot, tie the ladder to the house at the top.

For larger projects, scaffolding is really nice. It's very strong, very stable, easy to assemble, can hold multiple people and their equipment. It comes in 5' height increments, so you can get it where you need it. It prefers a flat ground, but there are attachments to level them. I rented 2 units for a 10'-high platform for $50 for a week.

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  • Good write up on how to get onto the roof, but how do I get the roof ladder on the roof it's self. I don't like the ideal of carrying a roof ladder up a normal ladder. – Walker Jan 16 '11 at 21:45
  • Wow, I totally didn't get that you wanted to put a ladder on the roof! Feeling a little clueless now. :-) – Jay Bazuzi Jan 16 '11 at 23:11

The way I'd approach this is to tie a rope to the roof ladder and take the free end of the rope with me when I climbed the ladder. Then, at the top, use the rope to pull the roof ladder up. You'd need at least two people on the ground - one to hold the ladder (essential anyway) and a second to help guide the roof ladder as you pull it up.

Then using the wheels push the roof ladder up the rood and finally flip it over to secure it.

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Use a 40 ft ladder and it will lean flat on the roof and be secure on the ground. No hooks, tugging or helpers needed.

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