When working on a higher roof during home maintenance exercises, you’ll require an extension ladder. Unlike self-supporting step ladders, extension ladder setup can be tricky.
To carry out your home maintenance practices, gardening work, or construction safely, this article will guide you on how to set up an extension ladder.
However, extension ladders are believed to cause the most dangerous accidents.
Why are Extension Ladders dangerous?
- They are supported on the ground with only two parts. In simple, they have the safety shoes at the base of their two rails.
- They are the tallest among other ladders. If one accidentally falls, the impact is higher due to their height.
- You cannot use them vertically like the step ladders. They must be leaned on walls hence a higher risk of sliding.
- They have a sliding upper part (fly) that may fail. If the rung lock fails to hold the fly, it may slide down and cause an accident.
Understanding the Extension Ladder Components
The extension ladder has several components that fulfill the user’s function. For this reason, it’s good to learn all in case of troubleshooting during setup. They are;
- The Fly Section
It is the adjustable upper section extended upwards to lengthen the ladder through a slide rail using the rope and the pulley.
- The Base Section
It’s fixed and designed as the ladder foot. It holds the guide rail in which the fly section slides in. Further, the base section has several rungs you climb to the fly section.
- Safety Shoe
They are the pads fixed on the base section rails to support the ladder on the ground. They are adjustable to create support at any angle and designed for traction.
- The Rungs
They are strong bars attached on both parallel rails for support when climbing up or down the ladder.
- Rung Locks
They are fixed on the base section rungs to lock the fly section once adjusted to the required height.
- Rope and Pulley
A rope is used to rotate the pulley. The pulley pins grip the fly section to slide it up or down to the desired height.
How to Set up an Extension Ladder
Many accidents are caused by careless ladder handling. To be safe, you need to master the extension ladder safety rules during setup.
This article will discuss four effective tips and techniques you would use. Let’s dive in;
1. Inspect the Ladder
It’s always recommended to inspect the ladder before use. For that reason, inspect all the discussed extension ladder components.
First, check for any broken rungs, rung locks, and rails that may get you in danger if not in good condition. If there are loose bolts, tighten them using a wrench.
Secondly, check for mud, grease, oil, and other substances that may cause sliding, and clean.
2. Determine the Correct Ladder Angle
Using the 4 to 1 rule, adjust the ladder to the height you desire to work on. Raise the ladder with the fly on the upper side and slowly lower it to lean on the wall. Ensure it extends one to three feet above the roof for stability if you intend to work on the roof.
Stand behind and let the toe tips touch the ladder shoes to confirm the right angle. Stand upright and extend your hands straight forward. The tip of your fingers must reach the ladder rung in line with your hands.
3. Secure the Ladder Feet
Although the ladder has safety shoes, some surfaces may be slippery. As such, secure your ladder base using any of these methods.
Method 1: Sweep the sand and debris from the ground using a sweeping broom. Then ensure the ground is level. You shouldn’t set the ladder with one rail on the lower spot than the other. Secondly, don’t try to level the ladder with objects like wood or stone blocks.
See also: Roofing ladder leveling tool
Method 2: If you are setting your ladder on a tiled floor, lay a ladder mat and place the ladder shoes on the mat for traction. Then using a strong rope, secure the ladder rails from the lowest point to a nearby anchor object. Note, the anchor should be along the wall the ladder top leans on and not in the opposite direction.
See also: How to hang extension ladder on wall
Method 3: If you’re setting the ladder on grass or wet ground, take a wooden bar and drill it using a cordless driller. Use a hammer to drive long iron nails to the ground as you lay the wooden bar behind the ladder shoes. The wooden bar will prevent the ladder from sliding back.
Method 4: Dig a small trench on the ground using a hoe. Set the ladder with the shoes sitting on the trench.
See also: Difference between traction and ladder bars
4. Secure the Ladder Top
Securing the ladder base is half the job. Use a ladder stabilizer to make your ladder stable for use. However, you should keenly follow stabilizer installation guidelines.
If you feel the ladder slide to the left or right against the roof, use rubber or plastic pads to lay the rails against the roof surface. If you still feel the ladder isn’t safe, you can secure it using a strong rope to the nearest solid anchor.
FAQ’s on Setting up an Extension Ladder
How High Can You Go on a Ladder Without Fall Protection?
Workers must have fall protection when using fixed ladders if they get beyond 24 feet. On the other hand, portable ladders are shorter than 24 feet, and you may choose not to use fall protection.
How Do You Balance a Ladder on a Slope?
Use ladders with adjustable for better traction. If you don’t have an adjustable feet ladder, dig a trench or pots for both feet to sit on level ground.
How Do You Stop a Ladder from Sinking?
Find some flat wooden parts or cut some large tins and set the ladder shoes sitting on them. The broader wood or tin surface will create less pressure on the muddy surface and prevent the ladder from sinking. Tips on how to set up an extension ladders are just simple. Save lives.
References and Citations:
1.Canadian Centre for Occupational Health & Safety (CCOHS): Ladders – Extension https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/safety_haz/ladders/extension.html
2. A Tool Shed: Extension Ladder Setup https://www.atoolshed.com/instruct/6208r.pdf