The holidays are here and so is the time of the year when most homeowners are likely to be using their ladders more often – hanging Christmas lights or decorating a tall tree, cleaning gutters and cutting dead tree limbs. So, your first thought should be: Do I need a buy or rent a ladder for this job?
The reason for renting a ladder is to get the proper ladder for the job a hand. Old guys like me just can’t do some of the things we used to do, especially while balancing on a ladder. Therefore, you don’t want to use a five foot ladder for a job that would require you to reach over ten feet high. I recommend that you go to your local Rental Stop location to find the exact ladder or lift for your project. I almost ran out of luck a couple of times and now use a taller one because I figured my luck was running out! Don’t test your luck. Renting ladders are cheaper and less painful than a trip to the emergency room.
Any time you are using a ladder it is smart to have another person with you. They can steady the ladder, put it back up if it falls while you’re on the roof or call 911 in an emergency. A “ladder buddy” is always a good idea on even the simplest projects.
Another comment on hanging lights with a six-foot ladder if it is aluminum. Not smart! Metal ladders conduct electricity (I hang my lights lit to check for loose connections, blown fuses and dead bulbs.). Rent a fiberglass ladder, like I now do, when hanging lights or doing other electrical work around your home. We’ve all done projects without having the proper equipment but don’t stretch your luck with ladders like I did. If it’s a one-time job, rent the right equipment and if it’s a recurring project you want to do (like your Christmas lights) invest in proper safe equipment and tools.
Q & A:
How do I know the height of the ladder that I need for my job? Most folks have only two kinds of ladders around the home – step and extension. The highest permitted standing level for an extension ladder is four rungs from the top and for a step ladder is two rungs from the top.
Is there anything other than height to consider when buying my ladder? First, ladders are rated by weight they will support (the Duty Rating). Heavy folks like me will need a higher rated ladder. Keep in mind this rating isn’t just what you weigh on the scales after your shower! The weight should include clothing and tools & equipment that will be on the ladder with you. Also, rent the right ladder material for your project. As we mentioned, use non-conducting ladders if you are doing electrical work.