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How to Walk Safely on Your Roof

Roofs are dangerous for many reasons. The wrong step could lead to falling through the structure or slipping right off the edge, thanks to the steep design. It is never recommended that a homeowner walks on their roof. In short, it is a dangerous process that only professionals with the proper equipment should take on. 

However, many people do walk on their roofs, and for that reason, it is important to know how to do so in the safest manner possible.

Before You Take a Step onto your Roof

Before you decide to walk out onto your roof, there are a few things to keep in mind. Ensure that the roof’s pitch is not too steep to walk on. If it is a steep pitch, there is no safe way to step onto the structure without risk. Only harnessed roofing professionals should do this. 

Second, consider the condition of the roof. Are there holes or other areas of obvious weakness present? If there is visible damage or areas that are sagging, that indicates a high risk of caving in, which can also be highly risky. This, again, is something only professionals should attempt to do.

Finally, consider the conditions on the day you plan to head out onto the roof. It is very important to do so only when the roof is dry. Be sure there is no residue on the surface. It is also not advisable to climb on a roof when it is windy or in any way stormy.

How to Safely Walk on Your Roof for Inspections or Minor Roof Repairs

If all of those factors are in place, there are a few steps to take to ensure you have the utmost safety in mind as you attempt this process.

Shoes to walk on roofs

Use well-fitting shoes that provide a good grip on the bottom of them for steeper roofs. For residential roofs that don’t have a steep slope wearing sneakers is fine and preferred by our roofers.

What type of Ladders should you use

Before climbing onto the roof, purchase a ladder that is secure and stable. Be sure your ladder is properly weighted for your needs. 

Place the ladder properly. It should be on a flat surface where it is not likely to slip or fall. Also, consider a 4:1 ratio. That means that for every 4 feet in height the ladder needs to go, be sure it is 1 foot out from the building. This creates a safer angle for climbing on the roof. 

Finally, even if the ladder is stable, have a second person stand at the base of the ladder to be a spotter. This helps ensure that, if the ladder begins to move, they can steady it, potentially. We encourage homeowners to read our ladder safety blog before steeping onto a ladder.

Roof Safety Harnesses 

Harnesses are not an option but a requirement when it comes to climbing on the roof. They provide a way to ensure you remain safe if you slip or the surface gives out. Harnesses are not inexpensive, but they are a critical investment in nearly all situations. You should never climb on a roof without a well-fitted, properly designed, and properly used harness. 

Take the time to purchase these with care. Be sure to select them specifically for the time of roof you have and, when possible, purchase one that is made for you, specifically. Check the weight rating. Then, read through the instructions on how to use it. While it may seem simple, you do not want to miss a step that puts you at risk. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for using it.

Once you climb to the top of the ladder, you need to secure the harness to a roof bracket. It is best to do this into solid wood. Look for a rafter, for example, to do this. That is going to provide a much higher level of strength and durability than other structures. It needs to be in good condition and strong enough to support your weight.

Always use a tool belt when climbing onto your roof

Tool belts are very important for roof work because you want to minimize the number of steps you take on any roof. That is for safety reasons, but it is also important for protecting the structural integrity of the roof itself. The more you walk on it, the more potential damage is done to the shingles or other material.

A tool belt helps eliminate extra steps by keeping everything you need with you. It is just as important as ensuring your ladder is in good condition. It helps to free up your hands, too, which means you can climb up the ladder with ease and proper security. 

Place all of the tools needed for the work you need to do in the toolbelt and secure it to your body tightly. You do not want it to be too loose that it gets caught while you are climbing the ladder. 

If you need to carry heavier items up to the roof, such as shingles or tools that do not fit in the toolbelt, be sure to use a pulley system. It is not recommended that you carry them up on your back or shoulder. This makes you unbalanced on the ladder and puts you at a higher risk of falls. You never want to climb the ladder one handed.

Keep the surface of your roof clear

Before stepping up onto the roof, be sure there is nothing where you plan to walk. Remove any debris, such as leaves, present on the surface before coming onto the roof. If there are loose shingles present, be sure to remove them or step around them to avoid falling.

Doing the Walking

While on the roof, walk steadily and soundly. While your roof may look normal and safe, it is not always possible to notice areas of damage. However, with a bit of focused attention, you can safely move along the roof of your home to tackle small repairs.

Keep in mind that turning to a professional for roofing repairs is always the best solution. They have the proper equipment to minimize risk while also providing you with the ideal long-term solution for any problem that you may have.

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