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How to access roof


New homeowner here. I need to access my roof for gutter cleaning and other preventive maintenance, but I'm not really sure where to place a ladder to get up there.

As you will see from the pictures in the linked folder the "easy" side of my roof line is right on the property's edge and I do not have any room to place the base of my ladder (it would be in the neighbor's bushes or house and would have to cross over a 6' fence). While the front and the back of the house both have plenty of room for a ladder base, unfortunately I'd be placing the ladder up against the gable end which I've never seen anyone do and I'm not sure it can be done.

Is this something I can expect to do myself (with a friend) or will I need a professional crew? Once I'm on the roof I intend to put some tie offs up there, but I have to get there first.

(BTW, can tie offs be left on the roof as permanent fixtures?)


A. Spruce
Re: How to access roof

There is nothing wrong with putting a ladder against a gable end, you might crush the shingles a little bit (if asphalt ), but that is no big deal. I would recommend setting the ladder near the base of the valley between the outcropped gable's gutter and the backset gable. Don't lean against the gutter, lean against the gable a few inches away from the gutter. This will give you the security you're looking for without the necessity of tying off.

I would not recommend installing tie-offs on the roof, as this would create a leak point. If anything, install some eyelets into the gable fascia with which to tie off to.

Ladder safety - make sure the ladder is sitting firmly and squarely on the ground when in position to be used. It should also be sitting firmly against the gable with both sides of the ladder. You do not want any binding or tension between the feet of the ladder where they touch the ground and the resting point against the roof. The easiest way to make sure you're set safely is to stand on the bottom rung of the ladder, grasp the sides and lean back just enough to lift the ladder off it's upper perch. Doing this will remove any tension or twist. If the ladder doesn't go back evenly against the upper perch, readjust the feet until it does. When transitioning to and from ladder and roof, use care to plant your feet firmly and DO NOT push or lean against the ladder, simply step from one to the other.

Re: How to access roof

Thanks for the tips, A. Spruce.

I've done a quick cartoon of what I think you mean. Did I interpret what you have to say correctly (see link)?

Also "roof tie" was the incorrect term. What I meant was a "roof anchor", such as the one that comes with this bucket of Safe-Tie, so I can tie myself off while on the roof (It is a long way down off my roof if I take a wrong step)

But upon further review, it looks like there are purpose built permanent anchors. Basically I'd like to avoid interacting with the roof as much as possible (I don't want to create any leak points) so I figure permanent anchors will be the best bet.

Given that my roof is 50' long front to back I could probably just have one in the center on my side (and potentially one on the neighbor's side), plus one more on the area over the front porch.

For the lower gutters, what is the best entry approach? Ladder up against the siding to avoid crushing the gutters? Ladder on the gable end again?

Re: How to access roof

The roof anchor with the fall protection kit is intended to be a temporary anchor that fastens into the roof sheathing. Generally, it is fastened straddling the ridge; after removal either the holes are sealed with patching cement (only leakproof for about a year) or the damaged shingles are replaced. It's not suitable for permanent install as there is no way to seal the fasteners. The permanent anchor you linked fastens to the the structure (specifically the trusses or rafters) and includes flashing which is installed overlapping the lower shingles and underlapping the upper shingles. There should be a cap which fits over the anchor and flashing.

As for setting up the ladder on the gable end, you may find that the ladder wants to twist due to the fact that the slope of the roof makes the contact point on the lower side further away from the ladder rail. I accept no responsibility for your safety, but one way that I have overcome this is to angle the ladder so base is positioned to one side of the top -- but that only works if the ground is absolutely level. The ladder still must be vertically straight as I am facing it ready to climb on even though the ladder and my body is turned relative to the wall, and both ladder legs must be solidly on the ground.

To ensure that the ladder won't fall to one side or the other, I place one foot on the bottom rung and with one hand, pull the ladder away from the wall. If the feet are uneven, the ladder will tilt to the side that's not sitting on the ground. If it's good, it doesn't tilt.

I like to have the ladder extend at least 4' above the edge of the roof. This gives me a good place to hang on without having to bend down as I'm getting on and off the roof.

Re: How to access roof

The easiest way to access the roof for gutter cleaning is to hire someone else to do it. :cool:

Re: How to access roof

I'm with Houston on this one - if you never been on your roof, now it's not the time to try it. Hire someone reliable.

A. Spruce
Re: How to access roof
dj1 wrote:

I'm with Houston on this one - if you never been on your roof, now it's not the time to try it. Hire someone reliable.

Me too. After looking at the pics, it appears the roof is a 5/12 pitch, much too steep for the average DIY'r to be on who is not familiar with being on a roof or has any form of height fears what-so-ever.

Re: How to access roof

Hard to tell from the pics, but I'd guess it's closer to a 6 or 7/12. Still easily and safely walkable for someone who knows what they're doing.

That being said, and with the OP stating concerns about falling and how to best set up a ladder, I'm prone to agree with Houston- they're not ready to be dealing with this situation. Not bashing the OP at all, but working safely on a roof is something best learned in a safer environment- lower pitches, a single story, and an experienced person helping them comes to mind. This house and roof is not a good one to self-learn this stuff on.

There is only one certainty when working on ladders and roofs, which is that both the person and the ladder will be coming down at some point. The trick is to have that happen how and when you want it to happen, and not one moment sooner or in any other way than you want.


Re: How to access roof

What Phil said plus -

Whenever working in dangerous conditions we have a first aide kit, phone, and dedicated person at the ready to call the ambulance. A clear, communicated plan in case of emergency.

Keep the driveway clear, make sure everyone knows the address, and where the phone is .

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