Any tricks to walking down a roof?

I have always been terrified of going up on my roof. Today I decided that was silly; people spend all day on them, how dangerous could it be. It was something I had to get over. Walking up the roof is actually pretty easy, but walking down it is not. Walking forward I feel like I might fall, and walking backwards is really clumsy. I think it is just harder to keep your weight over your feet going down than up. How is it best done?
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Diagonally. No, seriously. When you are going downhill on anything over about a 5/12 pitch, zig-zag down like a skier- it will be less scary. And if you slip, you will fall on your side and butt, not forward.
What is your roof pitch? At my age, anything over about 8/12, I leave to the pros. I also don't scoot along on my butt on the roof edge to clean gutters anymore- I use a leaf blower from several feet back, or do it from a ladder. The old inner ear told me there was just too much chance of tumbling sideways now.
12/12, like on a cape cod, should always be left to the pros, both due to the chance of injury, and how easy it is to trash the roof with the jacks and safety gear.
aem sends....
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aemeijers wrote:

That, and I heard from a Occupational Therapist that the nerves coming from your feet and ankles don't transmit signals as well as they did 50 years back, giving you less feedback to help you balance.
I've started seeing how long I can stand on one foot while moving the other foot around in a sort of circular pattern. When I first tried it I'd have to put the raised foot down in a few seconds or fall on my ass. After doing it for a couple of weeks I'm up to over 30 seconds now, which the OT told me is about average for someone 30 years old.
I think that walking upstairs or up a slope is "easier" because you realize that if you do fall forward it'll be a much "shorter" fall than if you fell forward while facing down the stairs or slope.
Jeff
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On Sat, 07 Jul 2007 20:06:38 -0400, Jeff Wisnia

And you have your hands to stop you and hold on.
When I'm really having trouble getting down a hill without slipping, I turn and face the hill and get down on my hands and feet and walk backwards down the hill on all fours.
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wrote:

My wife will not stand up on a roof. But she scoots on her butt and can drag a 40 pound load with her. It does get expensive with her buying new jeans after a couple of days because she wears the seat out.
So scoot on your butt.
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Does she hire out?

I'll pay for that too if it's necessary.

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wrote:

It is harder. Also hiking on hills it's harder to go down than up. I think you can practice in the hills or mountains near you. Safer than a roof. It's also cooler there in the summer time. I'm serious.
On the roof, wear rubber soled shoes, ankle high, laced firmly. Gives much greater stability, or the feeling of it.
Also, learn to tie a knot correctly. It turns out there are two ways to tie ones shoes, and one way is wrong. The second overhand knot should be tied in the opposite direction as the first overhand knot, so that the resulting knot (below the bow) is a square not and not a granny.
If you do that, your shoes won't come loose or untied.
I still can't tell if my second knot is opposite to my first or the same, but I've reversed the direction of my second knot and it works a lot better.
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Wade Lippman wrote:

You tie a long rope to the bumper of the car, and then throw it over the roof to use as a safety line.
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"Honey, I'll be back from the store in five minutes!"
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I think most of what you feel is psychological than anything, but it really depends on the roof pitch. I had the same basic concerns last year, did it and found that on a shallow roof walking is no big deal. Think about it, do you get that vertigo feeling when walking down a hill? of course not, because there is land all around you, its only when there isn't anything around you that you get all twitchy. I mountain climb religously, it took a few months to get used to the lack of solid ground around you, but now free climbing ledges isn't a big deal anymore - well I take that back, it IS a big deal it just isn't phobic to me anymore.
For me the biggest problem I had was stepping off the ladder onto the roof, I still have that problem and that same problem has prevented me from taking difficult routes when mountain climbing.
Don't walk backwards, you will trip and fall.
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On Sat, 7 Jul 2007 16:18:57 -0700, "Eigenvector"

Get a ladder that goes 3 or 4 feet above the edge of the roof. Or get knees that bend in both directions. Either will make it much easier.

Isn't "trip and fall" one of the categories of lawsuit they mention on daytime tv ads? ")
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Getting off the roof back on ladder is my Mr Yuk. Working on reroofing a house now. Fortunately there is a one story roof below the 2nd floor roof. Made ladder out of 2x4's. Used siderails that were 2-3ft higher than eave and put no rungs above eave. Always go up and down between siderails. Awesome.
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I used to go up on my roof often, Today, I find it easier to write a check to someone else. I've not been on mine since 2000 or so. If you have a steep pitch, don't be afraid to just say you don't want to go up there and stick to your word.
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