On Ladder Safety - On the House

On Ladder Safety

By on February 10, 2016
Choosing a ladder

What could be worse than working off a ladder if you’re afraid of  heights? Working off a ladder which isn’t safe. Ladder  safety  is no laughing matter.  A overabundance  of  do-it-yourself injuries  can  be attributed to poor tool safety with ladders  heading  the list.

There  are as many different ladders as there are tasks which require  one.  They  range from small single “step” ladders to long extension ladders  for those hard to access areas.  Ladders are constructed of wood, metal  fiber glass or a combination of the three.

We  like  to recommend that you not be penny wise and  pound  foolish  when purchasing a ladder.  We suggest that you treat its purchase like any other tool that you acquire.  Spend a bit more up front for a better product  and it will pay big dividends in the long run in safety and lasting quality.

A  six  foot wood or aluminum step ladder is a staple for any  home  owner.  For the average home with eight foot ceilings, it will give you  everything that  you  generally will need when tackling home  improvement  and  repair projects.   You can change light bulbs at ceiling mounted  fixtures,  paint ceilings and walls and even use it to clean dirty rain gutters.

You’ll need an eight foot ladder if your ceilings are ten feet or  greater.  Anything less may tempt you to use the top platform as a step.  That’s  the part of the ladder that says “THIS IS NOT A STEP!”  Remember, regardless as to the construction of a step ladder, the top platform is forbidden  territory.

Another important factor when purchasing a ladder is the amount of  anticipated  use.  If the ladder will be used frequently, you’ll want to spend  a bit  more for an upgrade model which will take the wear and tear.  If  it’s for occasional use something less elaborate will do.

Be  sensitive weight ratings. If your tall or a bit on the rotund side  you should  always look for a ladder with a rating greater than the load  which will typically be placed upon it.

Wood step ladders are adequate for the run-of-the-mill home owner.   Aluminum  ladders  tend to be popular with do-it-yourselfers  because  they  are light  and easy to haul around, however in many cases they don’t offer  the strength  and stability of their wood counterparts.  On the other hand,  an aluminum an inexpensive aluminum ladder would be a far better choice than a cheaply constructed wood ladder which is nothing more than a stack of scrap lumber stapled together.

Be  on the lookout for secure connections, metal supported wood  steps  and superior hinges when ladder shopping.  Anything less will eventually end up failing you in the long run.

When  using  a step ladder make sure that the legs are fully  extended  and that each of the four feet are placed securely on the surface that  support it. If that surface happens to be dirt or turf you may need to  stabilize the  ladder  by placing the feet on fence boards or a sheet of  plywood  to prevent  the  feet  from sinking into the ground and throwing  you  to  the ground. Also, step ladders are NOT designed to be worked from which leaning against a wall.

Extension ladders are not as widely used as step ladders, but are an almost must  for  anyone  with  a  multistory  dwelling.   Extension  ladders   of yesteryear  were  made  primarily  from  wood  —  wood  rails  and  rungs. Sometimes  you’d  find a mix of wood rails and metal  rungs.   Most  modern extension  ladders  consist of aluminum or steel  construction  (rails  and rungs).  A rung is another word for step.

As  with the purchase of a step ladder, consider spending a bit more for  a unit  which is constructed from heavier gauge material with  sturdy  welded connections.

Metal  extension  ladders are rated for weight just as with  wood  ladders.  It’s always better to buy a beefier ladder for added support and  durability.   When we’re working eighteen feet off the ground we want as  much  dependability below us as possible–aside from the concrete that is.

And speaking of concrete,  the surface that the ladder is placed upon is as important  as  the construction of the ladder. Whereas most  quality  built extension ladders have self adjusting feet with non skid rubber soles, it’s still  of  extreme importance that the working surface is  solid.   If  the surface is dirt or turf you’ll want to place a solid piece of material like a fence board, for example, under the feet.

For  added stability the bottom of the ladder should be on quarter  of  the ladder’s  length  from the base of the house.  For example, if  the  ladder extends  sixteen feet up the side of the house, the feet should be  planted at about four feet from the base of that wall.

When  working on the roof, the ladder should extend a minimum of  two  feet above the edge of the roof.  Never climb onto a roof from the gable end. Before  using the ladder, check it for loose rungs and cracked side  rails.  Don’t attempt to extent the ladder until you have placed it at the location where  you will be using it.  Once in place, pull the rope to raise  it  to the desired height.

Proper  balance  is of prime importance when working off  of  an  extension ladder.   Always keep hips between rails when climbing the ladder  or  when reaching out.  Keep one hand on the ladder and the other free for work.  When it comes to using a ladder, an ounce of prevention is most  definitely worth a pound of cure.

For more home improvement tips and information search our website or call our listener line any time at 1-800-737-2474! All you need to do is leave your name, telephone number and your question.

 

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