Most homeowners don’t have to climb on top of their houses very often, so when a damaged shingle or leaky flashing beckons them onto the roof, the inherent danger seems compounded by the unfamiliarity of the task. The height and the sloped surface present a precarious setting that can unnerve most anyone, but simple, effective safety precautions help make rooftop installs a manageable chore. As with most home installs or improvements, working on the roof involves a few specialized tools, but start with some common sense. First and foremost, leave the difficult situations—steep slopes and excessive heights, to professionals. It’s just not worth the added risk to tackle those obstacles. Second, wait until conditions are right; wet or icy shingles, gusty winds or high temperatures increase the likelihood of a fall or damage to the roof. Keep away from overhead power lines. Wear soft-soled shoes that offer some grip, and sweep the roof to remove dirt, debris and loose shingle granules that might compromise your footing. Finally, stay off slate or tile roofs to avoid breakage.
Safe rooftop work involves a simple system. Wearing soft-soled shoes and a safety harness is the first step. Beyond that, you need a sturdy extension ladder, a few temporary slide guards and a broom to sweep the surface free of debris.
Installing Roof Brackets
Anyone who has ever slid down a roof knows the panicked feeling of trying to gain traction on a steep, sometimes slippery, surface. By using roof brackets to install temporary slide guards, you can work more safely and with more confidence. And the guards create a ‘convenient place to store tools and materials. 1 Lift a shingle tab, position the tongue of the roof bracket and sink three or more fram-ing nails into a rafter or truss to secure it. Space brackets 1.2m apart.
- Extend the ladder several rungs above roof edge.
- This illustrates the correct technique for placing the bracket over a rafter and under a shingle tab. Measure from underneath or use a stud finder to locate the framing members.
- Use screws to fasten a 2×6 plank onto the brackets. The board’s ends should extend 15 to 30cm beyond the outer brackets.
Using a Roof Harness A safety harness offers a reliable means of avoiding injury from a rooftop fall, but without the accompanying system of rope, hardware and roof anchor, it’s nothing but an expensive set of suspenders. In trade jar-gon, the complete system is called a personal fall arrest system; think of it as a lifesaver.
- Strap on the harness according to the manufacturer’s instructions and tighten the straps for a snug fit. Double check the buckles before you climb onto the roof,
- Use lag screws or similar heavy hardware to secure the roof anchor to rafters or trusses at the ridge. This placement lets you work on either face of the roof without positioning the anchor.
- Clip the safety rope to the ring on the roof anchor. Then clip the lan-yard to the D-ring on the back of the harness. Use the rope grab to reposi-tion the lanyard as you work.