For many roofing contractors and some homeowners as well, height is just a number. Low slope roofs you can hop around on as if you were walking on the ground and even a steeper pitch isn’t as intimidating after years of experience. One thing that you must always remember though is that it’s not always the pitch of the roof that determines its danger level. In fact fragile roofing materials, which make up your walking surface, are often the biggest cause of injuries even on roofs with a minimal slope.
When roofs start to decay and wear, they can lead to leaks in the home, reduced energy efficiency, and a host of other problems. Unfortunately over time these roofs end up becoming harder to repair. Not only should you have a worn roof repaired at the earliest signs of trouble, those doing the work need to execute safety:
Know What Materials Become Fragile
Tiles and shingles especially can become very dangerous to walk on over time. Shingles are especially slippery as they lose their granules and this debris creates almost a slide. As shingles age they also tear away from their fasteners. A shingle might look in good condition from the surface, but stepping on the wrong one could break loose a surrounding patch causing you to fall. Tiles can snap from harsh weather and they might even break as you step on them. In fact, it’s not recommended walking on tiles at really any time.
Don’t Just Trust the Surface for What It Is
It’s not only the roofing materials (shingles, tiles, etc.) that cause dangers when working on a roof. In fact the surface may seem in perfect working order only to have rotted sheathing underneath. These moisture=damaged boards can often give way under just the weight of the roof – let alone when a person is up moving around on them.
Use Proper Harnessing and Other Fall Prevention
Since the underlying condition of the roof is not always visibly identifiable, it’s always recommended to use safety harnessing and other protection. Ropes, tethering, roof brackets and more provide you that ‘better safe than sorry’ aspect. Many people avoid these because setting them up is time consuming – but don’t let a couple minutes change your life forever.
Know the Dangers of Just Getting Up to the Roof
The roof itself needs to be accessed with care but sometimes just getting onto the surface is risky. Of course ladders always need to be used safely, but setting them up against rotted fascia can double the degree of difficulty. Many times there’s no way to know if eaves and other outlying sections of the roof are damaged until you get up there so just remember to use caution at every step.
Many homeowners relegate durability behind such issues as cost, looks, and energy efficiency when choosing roofing materials. When working on a fragile and worn roof however, you see just how important durability against the elements really is.