Let’s be honest, nobody likes doing roof work. One simple mistake and your efforts to save time and hassle could literally land you in the emergency Room.Whether you need to clean the gutters, check for storm damage or plan on replacing shingles, here are five safety tips for DIY roof reparations.
Work When It Is Safe
Work when it is safe to do so. It is dangerous to work on a wet roof, and the risk only goes up if you’re working when precipitation is still falling. Never work on the roof when there is lightning or high winds. If there is a critter on the roof or in the attic, have it removed before people start working around it. Block off pets, children and the curious from the roof. In general, don’t work on a roof when it is already sweltering.
When you are working on a dark roof, the roof is much hotter than the ambient air, and the last thing you need is someone getting overheated and falling. And in the case of extreme temperatures, the shingles could fail to seal or lie properly, too, if installed during the hottest part of the day.
Use the Right Safety Equipment
Non-slip shoes are a necessity. You also need a fall protection harness. A protective harness is often overlooked for do it yourself roof repair projects, but you would rather go through the hassle of using the harness than having two or more broken bones because you fell off the roof. While a safety harness may not be necessary on a flat roof one story off the ground, it is essential if on a second story or taller roof or any steeply pitched roof. On steeply pitched roofs, you can install temporary toe holds to help you keep your grip. They’ll get nailed to the roof deck and can be removed when you’re done.
Keep Your Ladder Safe
Always check for electrical hazards before handling a ladder, and don’t use a metal ladder near power lines. You can keep a ladder safe and steady by using a gutter guard. The ladder guard lets you lean the ladder legs into their notches and tie it into place, instead of leaning a ladder against the gutters and hoping it doesn’t slip or fall. Don’t use ladders when scaffolding is more appropriate.
Use the Ladder Properly
Only use ladder accessories like ladder jacks and ladder levelers for their intended purpose. Don’t use the top run of the ladder as a step unless it was designed to do that. Don’t use a step ladder as a single ladder, since it is unstable in this position. And never put a ladder on top of a step ladder or other unstable surface to try to gain extra height.
Clean Up Before You Work – And Then as You Work
Before you start working on the roof, clean it. Sweep off dirt and accumulated debris so there is less chance of someone slipping, and you also reduce the risk of someone kneeling on an old nail.
Clean up as you work, too. Tools left out during a thunderstorm could be ruined by the rain. Tools left on the roof could fall off at random times and injure someone down below. Then there’s the risk of theft or just forgetting them when you move on to another job. Debris just left on the roof will eventually rain down and become litter for others, so clean it up as you work.
Whatever you do, only work on your roof when it is safe, and then do so when using the right safety equipment. Use the right ladder for the job, use the ladder safely and don’t use ladders as they were not intended to be used. Clean the roof before you start working, and then clean up as you go to minimize the risk to workers and those down below.