Building An Addition: A Homeowner's Guide

3 Essential Roof Repair Safety Tips

by Toni Richards

Roof repair is a job that many people choose to leave to a professional roofing contractor. However, many roof maintenance and repair tasks are not out of reach for DIY-oriented homeowners if they know how to stay safe on a roof. Here are three essential roof safety tips that you should use for every roofing project.

Choose the Right Ladder

The first area where roof safety comes into play is the ladder that you use to reach your roof. It is important to remember that you will likely use your ladder several times while you are working on your roof, instead of once going up and once coming down. You need to find a ladder that will allow you to climb safely several times after fatigue from your work has begun to set in.

One of the most important factors in choosing the right ladder is to determine how tall it needs to be. For roof repair projects, this is done by finding the height of your house. Add a few feet onto this height when looking for a ladder so that you will have something to hold onto while you are stepping onto the roof. No matter what type of ladder you choose, you should always make sure that it is set on a solid, level surface.

The material that the ladder is made from is another factor that you should take into consideration. Aluminum ladders are very lightweight, making them a good choice if you will need to move to several different parts of your roof. However, aluminum is also conductive, so you may want to choose fiberglass instead if there are power lines close to your roof.

Never Work Alone

No amount of DIY or professional experience can ever make up for the value of having a helper on a roofing project. The risk of severe injury or death due to an accident is minimized if someone is close by to provide assistance or call emergency services. If you have a helper, you can also set up a pulley system with a bucket to deliver tools to the roof. This makes climbing the ladder safer by allowing you to keep both hands on the ladder instead of carrying tools, and eliminating the weight of a full tool belt.

Wear the Right Safety Gear

Roof repair jobs have a higher need for safety gear than almost any other DIY project. As the primary point of contact between you and the roof, your shoes are one of the most important pieces of safety gear to consider. Boots with thick treads and rubber soles are one of the best options for providing traction on the sloped surface of your roof.

Roof brackets are an excellent option for especially steep roofs or prolonged projects to provide a safe surface to walk on. Roof brackets are held in place by jacks that are installed under the shingles along the edges of your roof. Laying wooden planks across the brackets creates a level surface to walk on around your entire roof.

As a last line of defense against an unexpected fall, you should strongly consider a roof harness system. These systems consist of a harness that is strapped around the torso, and a lanyard that runs to a truss, rafter, or other solid anchor point on your roof. If you lose your footing and fall off the edge of your roof, the harness will break your fall before you hit the ground.

Staying safe while working on a roof is not difficult if you use the right equipment and follow a few simple guidelines. Keep these tips in mind so that you can avoid dangerous conditions while working on any DIY roofing project.