Does holding the ladder really work?

We've all seen it, we've all probably done it.
When you set a ladder on the ground outside, to clean the gutters or go on the roof, the ground is never perfectly level.
So to make sure the ladder doesn't slip, often one person holds while the other climbs.
Do you think the ladder holder is actually preventing a slip? is even capable of it? Or is it just luck that it usually works?
Every time I hold or climb a ladder I wonder about this.
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On Tuesday, December 9, 2014 7:41:03 AM UTC-5, TimR wrote:

Then you use appropriate shim material or if the difference is large enough, a leg leveler. The ladder needs to be level, someone trying to hold it isn't a subtitute for that.

Assuming the ladder is set up correctly, the above is an interesting question. If you look at who holds ladders, I can't recall seeing pros do it, eg painters, roofers, etc. It's always amatures. And even then, they aren't really holding much, if anything. If they were actually holding the ladder tight, leaning against it, they might be capable of preventing it from say slipping on a poor surface and moving outward. But typically they aren't doing that, just have hands loosely on it, etc. In other words, they are waiting for something to happen, rather than preventing it. In which case, I would think once it starts to go, it's not too likely that they will be able to stop something from happening. The only case I can think of where it might be helpful is if the ladder is extended close to it's max, so that it has more flex, more wiggle. Then having someone hold it, help keep it steady, while you climb or descend might be of some value. Probably mostly in making you just feel more comfortable.
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snipped-for-privacy@optonline.net says...

It's likely more peace of mind than anything else. No matter how hard I try to be logical. I can't stand up on the roof. But I have absolutely no problem walking on a similarly inclined surface on the ground.
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On 12/9/2014 7:40 AM, TimR wrote:

I had an incident where a chimney cleaner asked me to hold the ladder while he inspected the chimney. They guy was a moron to even go there as roof had snow on it. If I had not held the ladder he would have fallen when he slipped on the roof. BTW, I did not hire him.
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On 12/09/2014 07:20 AM, Frank wrote:

My friends and I painted houses to work our way through college.
Once I was up on a light-weight aluminum ladder and a strong wind started to move it. Though no one was holding it, one of my friends was close enough to run over and prevent it from falling over sideways.
Due to the wind, we called it quits for the day.
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I think what's more likely to help is "footing" the ladder: Someone to brace their foot against the base. In any case, ladders are involved in a lot of accidents. I think the most common problem is people setting the base out too far. It feels more comfortable climbving up, but it's more likely to slide.
I like to dig the ends of the feet into the ground if I'm on soil. On asphalt or concrete I want to have good rubber feet. On a deck I'll try to do something like put screwdrivers in a crack between floorboards, behind each foot. Or I might tie a rope to a lower rung if there's a place to tie it off. Whatever the case, it's worth taking the time to be careful. Then, before I go up, I'll try pulling the ladder back a bit and stepping on each side of the first rung. If it tips to the side then it needs to be adjusted. If you can't get it level you can use something like cedar shims under one foot. But whether you have a helper or not, you shouldn't go up when it's tipsy.
| We've all seen it, we've all probably done it. | | When you set a ladder on the ground outside, to clean the gutters or go on the roof, the ground is never perfectly level. | | So to make sure the ladder doesn't slip, often one person holds while the other climbs. | | Do you think the ladder holder is actually preventing a slip? is even capable of it? Or is it just luck that it usually works? | | Every time I hold or climb a ladder I wonder about this.
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We used to use the allegory of the string tied between the tree and car's bumper parked on a steep hill, just in case the car's parking brake failed.
I've had a 'sliding' ladder [where it starts going to the side] be prevented from sliding over by the 'holder' wedging himself like a triangle support. Didn't stop the slide so much as slow the slide giving me enough time to get far enough down so no biggie.
Before that incident, I thought the second person was always there to render immediate assistance *if* you fell. As in, never work a 'dangerous' situation by yourself, else you could be found hours later.
I was once trimming a branch off a tree [the small branch was about 8-10 inches in diameter]. Thought I was clever in leaning the ladder against what will be the remaining stump on the tree extending 10 feet out from the main trunk to its side. When the cut branch snapped off, the tree lost so much weight that it first launched the ladder with me on it off into ?? then since the tree stump had now moved up enough, there was nothing for the ladder to lean against! [branch was only about 16 feet up] so faced with the possibility of jumping clear, I looked at the remaining tree branches below the stump and realized that ladder was too much to simply fall to the ground, so I opted to hang onto the ladder. I was glad I did, because when it was all over [can't remember the exact sequences of all the turmoil] The ladder had slipped down [resting upon the lower branches] to around 8 feet tilted with me hanging onto the ladder on its underside, so all I had to do was hand over hand down the remaining to the ground. After that, I always alerted my wife to watch just in case AND tied the ladder onto the tree where I wanted it to remain. The best solution after that was to hire a professional to do the tree trimming. Thus, no more accidents for me. Albeit he had a dramatic one. After working for hours while his crew was begging him to put on his harness and he finally did. He fell 30 ft of a total of 50 ft, to have his restraining harness snap so hard it knocked the wind out of hiim, and he was so upset he quit and went home for the rest of the day.
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On 12/9/2014 6:40 AM, TimR wrote:

I use planks to stabilize/level ladders on soft/uneven ground. I will have a person stand on the bottom rung of the ladder when I step on or off the top rung of the ladder onto whatever I'm climbing on, because the force of my legs pushing myself off or onto the ladder could possibly tip it over. I don't want to be stranded yelling up on the roof after accidentally knocking the ladder over. Or worse, lose my balance and fall with the ladder.
Speaking of which, during a brief stay in a hospital I witnessed another patient wobbling his way down the hall with a nurse on each arm. He was saying he couldn't remember why he was there. The nurses were telling him he'd been putting Christmas lights up on his house and had reached too far, overbalancing the ladder. That's another scenario where more weight on the bottom of the ladder offers some protection (but of course the smart thing is to not overreach in the first place).
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On Tuesday, December 9, 2014 12:56:44 PM UTC-5, Moe DeLoughan wrote:

Stapling Xmas lights at heights high enough to kill you or put you in the hospital has to be one of the dumbest uses of a ladder. I saw a guy last week with a small A type ladder placed on top of a porch roof with a substantial pitch. He was standing on it, putting up those lights. And it wasn't one of the adjustable ones either, where you can compensate for the pitch.
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On 12/9/2014 5:00 PM, trader_4 wrote:

But Clark, the lights aren't twinkling.....
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rp8lwpvQEIM

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wrote:

I would put somethning under one leg, so the ladder was more stable. Or I'd rotate that thing at the bottom so it forced its way into the dirt.

I think someone can hold a ladder to keep it from shaking, which makes you shake, which makes the ladder shake more, and so forth.
But if the ladder is too close to vertical, and the guy up there pushes it away from the wall, not even the Incredible Hulk will be able to keep it from falling away from the house.
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wrote:

You remind me of my 6-foot ladder, going to the hatch that leads to the attic.
I got up there many times, but one time on the way down, I knocked the ladder over onto the floor. With the closet shelf in the way, I had to jump down, without twisting my ankle by landing on the ladder. There was no one to yell to in the house or outside.
Now I'm so fat, I had to cut 3" deep notches in the shelf for the ladder legs, to make room between my back while on the ladder and the wall above the closet door. But this has the advantage that I'll never knock the ladder over again.
Still I bring a cordless phone with me, and I leave the front door unlocked when I go into the attic.

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wrote:

I've often parked my truck, car, or farm tractor right behind the ladder. That way it cant slide backwards. To prevent side sliding, I have run ropes from each side of the ladder to the truck or tractor. I particularly do this when I have to change the bulb on my pole yard light. Anything I hate is putting a ladder against a round pole. since the top of the ladder tends to "walk" around the curvature of the pole. At least if it, against a vehicle and tied on both sides it cant fall, but it still tends to rock from side to side.
In recent years, since I'm getting old, I just hire someone to change that bulb, which seems to last another 2 to 3 years. I'm hoping the next time it neesds to be changed, I can afford to buy a LED replacement light, and wont have to change bulbs anymore, while saving money too. But presently LED pole lights (street lights) are still very costly.
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