On my street, I see roofing guys walking on these very pitched roofs,
almost seems like nothing to them. I try and I'm sliding. I can't do
it. I have a 2 story house, with a 1 story attached garage, and the
gutters are in a spot where the 1 story meets the 2nd story, and I would
like to get up and clean them.
I can't do it, I feel like I have no traction.
This might seem like a stupid question, but is it mental? I don't think
I'm afraid, as I do make the trip up there and try.
It is the shoes/boots?
Both. Practice, no fear of heights, and the correct soft-sole shoes. I
cringe when I see roofers working in hardsole lugged boots- hell on the
shingles. I prefer soft-sole clean tennis shoes, and walk as gently as I
can. I don't walk near as close to the edge as I used to- my body is trying
to tell me something with that queasy feeling in pit of stomach when I stand
right at a dropoff now. Guess the inner ears are going. For gutters, I now
clean from above, with a leaf blower. Walk parallel to gutter an arm-length
back, and use it like a firehose. Works great on continuous gutters, not so
hot on old soldered galvanized. For a 12-12 roof, I'd clean from below, or
hire it out.
I've heard it isn't just the inner ear which deteriorates and affects
balance. A physical therapist told me a while back that it's also the
feedback from the muscles/nerves around your feet and ankles which do
not supply "tilting" signals as well as they did when they were younger.
I guess that guy was right when he told me that once your body reaches a
certain age everything either breaks down, dries up or leaks. <G>
This thread is as about as serendipitous as it could be for me. When I
arrived home from work last Friday I noticed that a few feet of one end
of the ridge vent on our two story colonial home was flapping in the
breeze. I don't have any problems being up two stories on an extension
ladder, painting something, but like the OP, walking on pitched roofs
freaks me out. And, at the tender age of 71 I'm definitely noticing that
decreasing balance ability thing crreeping up on me.
I was envisoning having to call a roofer and pay whatever it took to buy
15 minutes on the job to tack the ridge vent back down again, 'cause for
one thing around here the worker's compensation premiums for employees
who do that for a living are a bit over 100% of their wages.
This time I got lucky and found a local (fearless) handyman advertising
in the town paper who was happy to do the job for me for about the cost
of a good meal. He insisted on shooting in galvanized screws (with
washers no less) to replace the original roofing nails which had pulled
out, and then went the entire length of the ridge, ending up putting in
more screws than an x-rated movie, just to "make sure" it wouldn't
BTW, here's a tip for you ladder users. If you take a few seconds to
spray paint the lowest rung on all your ladders with an easily visible
paint, like day-glo orange, you'll greatly lessen the chance of stepping
off the second rung by mistake and messing up your ankle, an open can of
paint, or both.
While we are on the subject of a pitched roof, I'd like to know how to
attach a safety harness cable. I have a deadly fear of ledges ( not heights,
as a pilot that would be quite a problem :o). This fear of ledges would be
greatly reduced if I felt secure in a safety harness. Where and how would I
attach this on the roof without drilling any holes? I've watched contractors
run around with their safety harnesses but I couldn't see how they where
I hope this is all legible, my mother tongue is French.
Well, for myself, I drilled a hole and sank a 4" galvanized
eyebolt into the ridgepole, and caulked the shit out of it,
but I expect that professionals use sort of flat nailing plate
like the ones on roof jacks, that slide under the shingles.
This Old House demonstrated this method of safety. The guy was putting
in solar roof vent fans. Strapped in for safety.
The best AND last height for me was a 15 story; on a swing anchored
on the roof. Putting in corner bead on columns. The wind blows in off
the beach, pulls the swing away from the work. Yep, take me down; I'm
done. Oh, no harness - hard to work with one arm holding on. I was
"equal opportunity, not equal results"
Part experience, part shoes. I have walked a 6/12 pitched tile roof for over 12
years now. The first half dozen times it was very spooky. Now, it's no big deal.
Critical that the roof be dry and the shoes be rubber soled. Leather is a recipe
for disaster. Kerp yourself vertical or tilted slightly towards the peak. Walk
across the pitch on an angle, not straight down.
What I used to buy in my roofing days that worked best were those cheap
cheap cheap canvas shoes from walmart/K-mart. Soft soles. "dessert boot"
styled shoes also worked well. You could walk up a 10x12 easy enough,
though in the heat of the summer you are taking a risk. Also the foam
rubber inside a couch cushion works well to skoot around if you don't
feel safe walking, use two different cushion foams to move around.
Though if you are steeper than 8x12 you may want to pass for safety sake.
36 x 12 is closer to vertical :)
on a piece of paper, from a starting point, go 5 inches vertical and
from same point go 6 inches out horizontal. That will give you the angle
of a 10 x 12. When working on that pitch there would definitely be "toe
boards" secured to the structure as a working platform. Come down grab a
handful of shingles and proceed on. This was only on the right
conditions, usually working in the morning. Anything steeper it was
quicker to work of the bottom toe board as high as you could reach then
secure another row of toe boards and move on up...
LOL. It does matter what type of shoe you wear. On the crew I was on
basketball sneakers were preferred. Chuck Taylor high tops were the
favorite. I used a type of shoe that used climbing rubber for the
Technique is important also. It is similar in a way to downhill
skiing. In order to ski correctly your weight has to be directly over
your feet. The instinctive reaction is to lean up hill and this
result in slipping and falling. Yu have to actually have to point
your mass downhill to maximize the mass over the skis.
It's the same on the roof. If you are fearful you will lean uphill
which removes part of your weight from your feet and causes you to
slip. You actually have to lean downhill a bit to keep your weight
over your feet. It is a scary thing to do especially at first and you
have to be confident in your balance.
To lean downhill when you are up on the roof is what you have to do to
keep your weight over your feet. I was able to do it because of my
backround as a skiier so experience is the best teacher.
Sometimes a new guy on the crew will quit before the first day is
over. Occasionally we hired a guy who only will work on the ground.
Confidence is the main thing. You either have it or you get it or you
I wear non-slip rubber soled shoes. you can get them at payless shoes
or sears. also, if doing alot of work on roof buy metal angles that
are made to support a piece of 2X4 and attaches to roof under shigles.
available at home depot or lowes
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