Having the skills and knowledge to replace your roof is only half the battle. Proper roofing safety is just as important. Your roof replacement is the last place to cut corners and take risks. Not only because you could be jeopardizing the safety and protection of your home, but you can put yourself in danger as well. Before jumping into this DIY safety guide, we have to note that we strongly discourage anyone without roofing experience to attempt to replace their roof on their own. If you’re dead set on DIYing your roof replacement, get some practice and training from an experienced professional before getting on your own roof.
If you have experience in roofing and feel comfortable with heights and balance, then this DIY safety guide is for you! We’re going to give you 7 key safety precautions you can use when roofing your home.
Start With A Plan
The first step in ensuring a safe roof replacement is mapping out your plan. The more you try to “run and gun” and play things by ear, the higher the chance that you’ll make mistakes. Making a mistake on your roof is obviously bad for the roof itself, but it’s also a risk to your safety because you can begin to get flustered or confused. You want to work on your roof with a clear head and plan in place to mitigate the chances of slips and falls.
You can start your plan by creating a timeline for your DIY roofing project. Map out what needs to be accomplished each day and create a checklist. For example, on the first day you might begin tearing off all your old shingles, inspecting the decking for damage, make any necessary repairs, and tarp your roof off at the end of the first day. Continue planning out every day so that you know exactly what needs to be accomplished, that way you can start your day with a clear and focused head!
Organize Your Tools and Materials Beforehand
This is fairly straightforward, but you should have all of your tools and materials neatly laid out before you begin replacing your roof. Organizing your roofing materials will increase efficiency when you’re retreating from the roof to gather more shingles, nails, tools, or other materials. This will also keep you safe by making it easier to travel back up your ladder and reducing the temptation to carry as much as possible.
It might seem simple, but ladders fall and cause injuries all the time. You’re going to be carrying heavy shingles and other materials up the ladder, setting it up properly is an essential component of roofing safety. The first thing you’ll want to do is ensure that the feet of your ladder are on solid and even ground. Avoid wet grass, mulch, sand, or other uneven surfaces like rocks.
It’s also essential to keep your ladder at roughly a 75% angle to prevent it from falling backward or caving in. Having this angle will make it easier to climb up without adding too much weight to the center of the ladder as you’re carrying materials. You can safely place the top of your ladder either on the drip edge or a sturdy gutter, depending on where you’re trying to climb up. The top of your ladder should also go above the roof to prevent slips.
If you’re worried about damaging your gutters, there are some affordable ladder mounts on Amazon that will both protect your gutter and improve the safety and stability of your ladder as well. Lastly, make sure you’re not overdoing it with the amount you’re attempting to carry up your ladder. If you try to carry too much weight, you could drop heavy materials causing them to fall on the ladder, your home, or anyone below.
Whether you’re a seasoned roofer or brand new, standard safety equipment is a must when it comes to replacing the roof on your home. If you don’t have some of the safety equipment listed below, you can purchase them at your local hardware store or on Amazon.
Standard eye protection is a must when you’re replacing your roof. You should wear protective glasses at all times to prevent nails, dust, and debris from getting into your eyes. Eye protection is essential when you’re tearing your old roof up. Nails and shingle pieces often create a mess, and it’s not uncommon for them to fly up towards your face when you’re raking your old shingles off.
As you might have guessed, you’ll be using your hands a lot as you’re replacing your roof. From tearing up old shingles, carrying heavy shingles up a ladder, and nailing things in place, gloves are absolutely necessary to keep your hands safe. Roofing gloves will also protect your hands from the heat of the sun if you’re working on a hot day, keeping you comfortable and able to work longer. With that protection from the sun comes some heat resistance as well because roofers gloves are made with flame-resistant material. Shingles and other roofing materials, especially flashing and other metal, can heat up in the sun, so your gloves will help prevent any burns or discomfort if you do come into contact with a hot surface.
When you’re up on your roof, regardless of how steep the pitch is, having quality boots with non-slip soles is extremely important to prevent accidents. Although it’s impossible to completely remove the risk of falling from your roof, a good pair of roofing boots will lower the chances of you slipping or losing your grip on the roof. Roofing boots also have puncture-proof soles to prevent you from getting injured by stepping on nails or other sharp objects.
Utilizing a tool belt is just one more way to keep your hands free, allowing you to be safer when you’re climbing a ladder or up on your roof. In addition to being safer, you won’t find a roofer without a tool belt because of the convenience. Being able to keep your essential tools on your waist at all times reduces the need to climb down from your roof as much or leave your tools spread out on the roof, which could lead to slips and falls.
It may not be the best fashion statement, but a hard hat could save your life in the event of a fall. Like most types of helmets, hard hats will reduce the impact to your head and brain from a hard surface if you slip up and fall off your roof. In addition, roofing hard hats are usually fairly lightweight, so they don’t weigh you down or act as a distraction. A hard hat will also keep you safe while you’re on the ground if a tool or material were to fall off your roof with you below it.
Last but not least, it’s important to have a safety harness when you’re replacing your roof. Roofing is dangerous work no matter how experienced you are or what type of roofing system you’re using. Whether it’s working on an old roof with missing shingles that could collapse at any point or trying to climb back and forth between the roof and ladder on a steep pitch, having a safety harness is crucial. Roofing harness kits are sold at hardware stores, online, or you can even piece together your own with some rope and carabiners from the hardware store.
Roofing equipment like this isn’t always necessary when you’re replacing the roof on your home, but it’s important to have it on hand whenever you’re working high off the ground. Roofing is dangerous; protecting yourself with these items will help keep you safe and make your job much easier.
As you’re replacing your roof, it’s important to be aware of the risk of falls and take extra precautions to prevent them from happening. Professional roofers with lots of experience have fallen while working on roofs all the time, so as a homeowner, you need to be extremely aware of that risk and do everything you can to be safe. Safety harnesses, roofing boots, and proper ladder safety are excellent safety steps to preventing and reducing the damage of falls, but there are more safety steps you can take to reduce the chance of falls.
Always Clean Your Roof
Before you start any of the actual roofing work, you need to clean your roof and clear it of any debris, branches, or dirt to reduce the risk of slips and falls. If you’re tearing an old roof up, there will be tons of shingle pieces, dust, and nails all over your underlayment. Before you start laying down new shingles, take a broom and sweep everything off your roof to give you a clean working surface.
Never Work on a Wet Roof
Working on a wet roof will significantly increase the risk of falls, even if you have great roofing boots. Before you begin your roofing project, take a look at the weather forecast and make sure the weather will be clear while you complete your roof replacement. This will not only keep you safe but also prevent you from getting caught in the rain in the middle of your project and have to scramble to tarp your roof.
Don’t Work in Significant Wind
Windy conditions will make a mess of everything and also make it unsafe to be on top of your roof. Balancing on a tall roof is hard enough. Attempting to replace your roof on a windy day is not worth the risk.
Even with all these safety steps, seasoned roofing professionals experience falls and injuries at work all the time. If you’re not 100% confident in your ability to stay safe while working on your roof, don’t risk it. Give the professionals at WISA a call today! Safety and satisfaction are our top priorities.