A useful rule of thumb when using a ladder to climb roofs is that a ladder must be secured to the roof to prevent it from sliding out.
There are additional safety protocols including fall protection of some kind when performing work up there but securing your ladder is arguably a more crucial step for roof ladder safety.
Here is how to secure a ladder to a roof the right way- some of us do it all wrong exposing ourselves to serious injuries and even probable death.
Whether you’re an ardent DIYer looking to complete some repairs on your aging roof safely or a newcomer to the ladders world still learning the ropes, it’s important that you master how to do this properly.
Follow the steps outlined below to successfully and quickly manage the task.
How to secure a ladder to a roof- step by step
Here is how to secure a ladder to a roof (step by step) to keep it from moving while you’re ascending/descending.
Don’t reach for the ladder just yet- you need to be sure that all safety precautions have been observed before you can think of how to secure the top of your ladder into position.
Basic safety measures:
a) Non-slip feet mounted
The non-skid safety feet should be correctly fitted and in working condition.
b) No defects
It goes without saying that you should not climb onto a ladder that has defects such as loose/cracked rungs, corroded hinges, missing rivets, etc.
c) The ladder is of an ideal height for the job
If you’re using an extension ladder, be sure that it’s tall enough for its top to extend above the eaves by at least one meter (about 3 feet or 3 rungs).
d) Dress the part
Before you go near your ladder, wear enclosed shoes with outstanding grip (on the soles) to prevent slipping. Even if the ladder is sufficiently robust, it will still be a major hazard to work from if you left something out during setup.
a) The ladder is stepping on hard, level ground
The ladder should be placed only on dry, hardened, and level surfaces. Consider placing a hard board underneath its feet if you feel that the soil it’s stepping on is too soft.
b) Is it locked?
You don’t need to be reminded of this but I will anyway- in no circumstances should you step on a ladder that is not locked for those perilous high climbs. Inspect it and engage the locks and braces before climbing, if you somehow missed this.
c) Be clear of electrical hazards
Move it to a position where it will not be interfering with powerlines or other exposed electrical wiring if you haven’t yet done so.
d) The horizontal distance from the wall should be safe
Lastly, the base of the ladder ought to stand about ¼ of its total length away from the wall. For example, if your ladder is 20 feet tall, the feet/base should be about 5 feet (20/4) from the wall.
With the preliminary actions out of the way, we can now look at how to keep the ladder from sliding by locking it to a roof.
Regardless of the size of your ladder, it will make negligible lateral movement if you implement these steps:
Step 1- climb the ladder safely
Ask a buddy (or your partner) to hold your ladder while you go up. The best approach is to face the ladder while making your way up the ladder- always hold onto the rungs as you slowly rise up.
Another thing to note is to maintain the magical three (3) points of contact at all times. You could have both hands along with one foot on the ladder or one hand and both feet. Climb in this manner until you arrive at the top of the roof.
Bonus tip: For safety, do not go beyond the three topmost ladder rungs.
Step 2- secure the ladder to a suitable anchor point
Now you’re ready to complete the most important part of the entire process- securing the ladder to minimize slipping and movement. You simply use a sturdy rope or bungee cord to secure this all-important climbing equipment.
Here is exactly how you secure a ladder to a roof:
- Grab one end of the rope or bungee cord and hook it to your preferred anchor point -the lip of the gutter works well for me.
- Now wrap it strongly around the ladder’s leg of the ladder.
- Next, fold the rope/cord completely across your ladder then back around -you make a complete circle- around the ladder.
- Proceed to hook the cord to the gutter (still on the lip) on the other side of your ladder.
Needless to say, you’ll require an alternative anchor point if your gutter is not strong enough to support the ladder.
Bonus tip: For more strength and hence extra safety, you may use two bungee cords to tie the ladder to the roof.
Step 3- disembark from the ladder
Your mission has been accomplished so climb down the ladder safely.
Bonus tip: For some folks, the best way to secure the ladder is by tying it using a strong rope to a roof truss. This can work for you too if it’s possible to move the roof tiles just behind the gutter.
See? It is not something that hard to do even if you are deathly terrified of heights. Do it before starting work and, of course, in the correct way.
One more thing: once you are up there, keep your center of gravity low – the lower it is, the more stable you’ll be.
In addition, pay attention to the job and realize you’re working at an intimidating height- this self-awareness is key to avoiding wrong moves that could cause you to lose your balance.
After all, your most eminent asset when completing tasks from dizzying heights is common sense.
References and Citations:
1. Commodious LLP: How to use a roof ladder safely?- https://www.commodious.co.uk/knowledge-bank/working-at-height/roof-ladders
2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC): Occupational Ladder Fall Injuries — United States, 2011-