Extension Ladders are very useful. They provide the height you need to be able to complete a variety of projects. Use an extension ladder to clean your gutters, fix your roof, or give your house a new coat of paint. Even though extension ladders are useful, a lot of people hesitate to buy them because they can be dangerous if you don’t use them properly. Lots of people get injured on an extension ladder because it isn’t stable when they climb up to the top. This article will help you decide if extension ladders are worth buying.
What Is an Extension Ladder?
Extension ladders are ladders that are able to extend and give added height to the entire ladder. Other ladders can only be the height they are currently. Extension ladders also only have two feet or points, that touch the ground. Most of the other ladders you see will have four, like a chair or a stool. You will need to lean the ladder against something stable to make sure that the ladder doesn’t tip backward or sideways. It cannot stand up on its own. Then you’ll be able to extend the ladder to the height that you need it. This is a great ladder for people that need ladders of all different heights for a variety of projects. With extension ladders, you don’t have to have several different ladders that are different heights.
Buy the Right Extension Ladder
Don’t just buy the cheapest or first extension ladder you come across. There are lots of factors that you’ll need to take into consideration. Know how tall you need the ladder to be. You’ll have to know the distance to your roof if you’re planning on buying a ladder that will reach it. It’s also important to know how much weight will be on the top of the ladder. The more the ladder is extended, the less weight it can hold. All extension ladders will come with a weight limit, your job is to make sure that whoever is going to the top of the ladder does not exceed that limit. Remember, a weight limit includes the person and all the tools or supplies that the person is holding as well.
Know Where You’re Putting Your Extension Ladder
It’s very important that extension ladders are on a smooth and level surface. Since you’ll be so high up on the ladder, the last thing you’d want is the ladder to slip. Many injuries happen this way. Ladders that will be on hard and smooth surfaces should have their feet flat on the ground. The feet will grip the surface. Surfaces that are soft require extra grip so usually, you’ll be able to dig the feet into the ground so that it will not slip. Never set up your ladder close to any charged electrical lines. Since ladders are made of metal you could get electrocuted. Don’t put your ladder near dripping water because it could make the rungs of the ladder slippery. Check your surroundings to make sure there is nothing dangerous around.
Set Up the Extension Ladder Properly
Proper setup is very important. The most important thing to remember is that your ladder needs to be leaned against a stable structure. The ladder should be leaned against the structure in a 4:1 ratio. This means that the point of where the ladder touches the structure at the top should be 4 times the distance that the ladder is away from the base. So if it’s 20 feet from the ground to where the ladder touches the structure, the base of the ladder should be 5 feet away from the structure. An easier way to get it right is to touch your toes to the base of the ladder. Your fingertips should be touching a rung when you reach your arms out, if your fingertips go past a rung you need to adjust the angle. The ladder could tip backward if the angle isn’t right.
Image Source: Tools of the Trade
Getting the Height Right
Make sure that each extension is locked into place. It would be terrible if the extensions slid while you were up there. The height of the ladder should be 3 feet above the surface that you’re trying to get on. So if you’re trying to get onto the roof, the ladder should be 3 feet above the surface of the roof. This is much safer because if the ladder is below the surface of the roof, someone would have to try to climb onto the roof instead of just stepping off the ladder. Don’t let anyone try to pull themselves up onto the roof. If you realize the ladder isn’t quite tall enough after someone has already climbed up, have them climb back down so you can adjust the height. Failure to do this could result in serious injury.
Climb the Extension Ladder Correctly
Don’t get too comfortable with climbing up the ladder. You should always pay very close attention and be careful. There should be 3 points of contact between you and the ladder at all times. This means that both hands and one foot should be on the ladder or both feet and one hand. Never try to carry something in your hands up the ladder. All tools or supplies should be in a tool belt or something else so that you can maintain those 3 points of contact. Climb all the way to the top of the ladder so that you’re above the surface that you want to be on, then just step off of the ladder onto the surface.
Inspect the Extension Ladder Regularly
Inspect the ladder each time you use it. The ladder shouldn’t be bent or cracked anywhere. Make sure that there isn’t any rust or signs of wear. Regular inspections could actually be the difference between being safe and getting seriously hurt.
So...Is It Worth It?
Although there are many things that you need to do in order to use extension ladders correctly, they’re fairly easy to use. Most ladders are very simple and can be used for so many different projects. It’s easy to adjust the height and be safe as long as you’re attentive. Cleaning gutters are easy when you have an extension ladder. It’s also really useful to have when you want to paint window shutters or maybe even paint the entire house. Yes, extension ladders can be dangerous but so can all ladders if you don’t use them correctly.
You’ll have to decide whether or not buying an extension ladder is worth it. Yes, they are very useful and can help you do many things. They last years and years and it’ll probably be the only extension ladder you ever buy. If the majority of your projects don’t require a really tall ladder, it’s probably not worth the money to buy a ladder so tall. However, if most of the projects you do are on the roof or somewhere else really tall, it’s in your best interest to go ahead and buy one. Only you can decide if extension ladders are worth buying, but hopefully, this article helped you decide.
Image Source: Best Reviews
Related Article: Best Ladder Options: Our Top Picks to Help You Reach New Heights