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How To Protect Roof When Walking On It

How To Protect Your Roof In 5 Easy Steps

Walking on Concrete Tile Roofs

Guest Post by Elmer Zubiate of On Time Elmer Plumbing specializes in plumbing services in San Antonio, Texas.

How much is your roof worth? In many cases, more than a new car. While our rooftops are often out of sight and mind, a leaky one gets our attention pretty quickly. Here are some tips on keeping that roof maintained, protecting not just whats covering your home, but the stuff underneath it as well.

Advice About Walking On & Inspecting Slate Roofs

Slate roofs are fragile and are likely to be damaged by foot traffic it’s best to stay off of slate roof surfaces during a building inspection. See SLATE ROOF INSPECTION PROCEDURE for details.

Inspectors should be cautious in evaluating any roof condition to avoid failing the roof materialitself when leaks are confined to flashing areas.

Watch out: our own experience is that it is absolutely impossible to walk directly on slate roofs without damaging them, particularly if the slates are worn, loose, damaged. And walking on such surfaces is unsafe.

On some other fragile but not totally fragile roofs such as slate roofs, cement tile, cement-asbestos, fiber cement, and hard-fired ceramic clay tile roofs, contractors suspend a ladder over the roof surface, hanging it from the ridge, and cushioning it off of the roof surface using foam or insulation padding, or contractors work from scaffolding.

Our photo shows a slate roof being replaced in Duluth, MN. Notice the pairs of ladders that are used to install new slates without walking on this roof surface. The ladders address both a steep slope falling hazard and the probable damage to the slates from foot traffic.

Advice For Walking On Or Inspecting Wet Icy Steep Snow

Wet, icy, or snow covered roofs are unsafe to walk on in most circumstances, possibly excepting expert inspection of flat roofs with safe parapets or railings installed.

Also see Building Safety Hazards Guide, and see our list of inspector safety articles at Home Inspection Education & Services – Safety Articles. Readers are also invited contribute roof failure information to the web author for research purposes.web author for research purposes.

Continue reading at ROOF JOB PROBLEMS, RESOLVING or select a topic from the closely-related articles below, or see the complete ARTICLE INDEX.

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Advice About Walking On & Inspecting Asphalt Shingle Roofs

We do not walk directly on any asphalt shingle roof that has one or more of these hazards:

  • Roof is uncomfortable or feels unsafe or too fragile for any reason, in the opinion of the inspector
  • Steep pitch roofs – judgment of the inspector
  • High roofs – judgment of the inspector
  • Fragile roofs – judgment of the inspector
  • Wet, icy, snowy roofs – judgment of the inspector
  • Roofs with curled, cracked, or broken shingles – judgment of the inspector
  • Roofs for which there is not ready, safe access – judgment of the inspector

Loose mineral granules on an asphalt shingle or roll roofing roof surface, are dangerous and can cause the inspector to slip and fall off of the roof, regardless of the cause of loose material: whether because the roof is brand new or old .

Inspecting at ground level may show evidence of severe roof granule loss even before the inspector, owner, or roofing contractor has placed a ladder at the roof edge for a closer-look. From the roof edge you may see a gutter with a half inch or even more of mineral granules . The two times we see asphalt roof shingle mineral granules on the ground or in gutters in quantity is at brand new asphalt shingle roofs, or at older, damaged, worn roofs whereon granules have lost their adhesion to the shingle by weather, age, foot traffic, hail, or other damage.

Can I Walk On My Roof

Roofing worker walking on roof performing an inspection

There are many reasons you might want to walk on your roof, from hanging Christmas lights to looking for the source of a leak. However, you should avoid walking on your roof whenever possible. There are safety and insurance issues your risk by stepping on your own roof. Also, you could damage your shingles or other roof materials by stepping on them.

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Buying Roof Safety Gear

Safety Harness The harness is only one part of a personal fall arrest system. Its called a system because all the componentsthe harness, lanyard, rope-grab, rope and roof anchorare carefully engineered to work together. You can also check at roofing suppliers . Consider splitting the cost with friends or neighbors and sharing the kit.

I dont know a single carpenter or roofer who hasnt had a close call on a roof, but most will readily admit they were doing something stupid at the time. Roofs are inherently dangerous places, but if you follow our suggestions and stay focused on safety, youll greatly reduce the chances of an accident. And with the roof brackets and personal fall arrest system in place, if you do slip, at least youll live to tell about it.

Roof Brackets Roof brackets are available at hardware stores, lumberyards, roofing suppliers and home centers for $5 to $10 each. Buy enough 90-degree brackets to place one bracket every 4 ft. along the edge of the roof below where youll be working. Use brackets designed to hold a 2×6. Larger planks are too hard to step over when youre getting onto the roof. Youll want additional rows of brackets and planks about 8 ft. apart across the roof to rest supplies on and provide secure footing.

Buy the best 2x6s you can find. Make sure the knots are small and dont go all the way through the board.

What Can You Do About Shingles Falling Off Your Roof

Fit the solution to the type of shingle problem you have. If youve lost just a few shingles to wind, get those replaced. If theyre broken because you walked on them, walk on them less. If a shoddy installation is the problem, ask your roofer to redo the work and get it right. If your shingles are just too old, replace them. Finally, if your shingles are hail damaged, file an insurance claim.

1. Replace Wind-Damaged Shingles

Wind damage is one of the most common causes of falling shingles and one of the simplest to fix. If extreme weather knocks off a few shingles, there probably isnt a systemic problem with your shingle installation. You can just ask a roofer to replace those shingles.

Give your roof a good visual inspection after each major weather event, looking out of certain windows or up from the ground using binoculars. Search for empty spots where shingles should be and for seriously bent or loose shingles.

In the short-term, replacing a lost shingle now and then is okay, but your roof might end up looking like a patchwork quilt. Are you thinking of listing your house for sale soon? Then you might need more extensive repairs to make your roof look new and appealing.

2. Limit Walking on Your Roof

3. Correct Poor Shingle Installation

Your roofer can also perform an inspection to discover if there are causes of the problem which were unnoticed before. For example, there might be a structural issue, which they will consider when redoing the work.

5. Claim Hail Damage

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Dismantling A Temporary Roof

One aspect to consider when comparing shrink wrap sheeting versus tin sheeting for a temporary roof covering is the time taken to remove the roof cover when the project is completed. The shrink wrap film can simply be cut off in sections and bundled for collection for recycling at the site or back at your yard. This will be considerably quicker than removing tin sheets and stacking for transport back to the yard.

Roof Safety Topics For Meetings

This is how we do STEEP ROOFS | Walking a 10:12 roof

As the topmost safety precaution for working on roofs, pre-start talks should be performed. Listed below are sample roof safety topics for meetings prior to commencing roofing work:

  • Working with Skylights and Roof Openings
  • Basic Roof Housekeeping Standards
  • Demonstrating the Proper Operation of Roof Cutters and Power Brooms
  • Safety Measures for Job-built Ladders
  • Identifying Potential Heat Illnesses and How to Avoid Them
  • Pre-use Checks for Specific Roofing Equipment
  • Proactively Preventing Horseplay to Avoid Slips, Trips, and Falls

You should now be familiar with the common rooftop safety hazards and basic steps to follow to improve safety in your workplace. Explore how using a digital inspection app like iAuditor by SafetyCulture can help you keep improving rooftop safety in your workplace.

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Is It Ok To Walk On Your Roof

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most common roof material in the country: theyre light-weight, easy to produce, inexpensive, and effective at protecting your home from damage due to the elements. However, while they may seem durable when theyre new, these tiles will naturally become more damaged over time by their exposure to the elements. That means after a few years, your tiles may become rigid, brittle, and prone to cracking or breaking. Foot traffic accelerates this problem, and many older tiles will crack and break when stepped on, especially if theyre several years old.

Even then, with newer roof tiles, you can still damage your roof shingles by walking on them. Even if you dont cause any cracks, the pressure and added weight you place on your roof could cause the underlayment and foundation wood to creak, crack, and develop weaknesses. While there may not be any visible damage from walking on your roof, you may develop a leak that can lead to extensive damage to your home during the next rain storm. When you consider how much repairs for extensive can cost, is it really worth it to venture out onto your roof?

Clay & Wood Tiles

Is A Shrink Wrap Temporary Roof Right For Me

No product is right for every situation or application and this is certainly true for temporary roof covers.

For the largest of temporary roofs, the system roofs offer a number of advantages and have been tried and rested on some of the most high profile construction projects in the UK.

Shrink wrap sheeting is most suited for smaller and awkward temporary roofs.


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How To Walk On Your Roof Without Damaging The Shingles

Beyond the risk to your roof, many people dont recognize that theres a huge injury risk by venturing out onto your roof tiles and shingles. Roof slopes are particularly steep to promote water and debris rolling off your roof and moving away from your home, and that same steep slope can make it extremely difficult to walk on. Thousands of people every year sustain serious injuries from falling off their roofs due to the steep slope, which is why walking on your roof should always be left to a trained, professional roofer who can utilize the proper safety equipment to avoid an injury.

Although we absolutely don’t recommend it, here’s a list of things to keep in mind if you’re adamant about getting up on your roof:

  • Inspect your roof before you ever set foot on it. If it’s wet or icy, you should under no circumstances step onto the roof.
  • Pay attention to the surface you’re walking on. If there are any loose shingles or areas of damp and slippery leaves, avoid stepping on them.
  • Take your time and use small, controlled steps. Be sure you’re wearing well-fitting, rubber-soled shoes with good traction.
  • If you see any areas of damage, don’t try to fix them yourself. Immediately call a roofer to assess and repair the damage before it has a chance to get worse.
  • If the reason for getting onto your roof is because you want to pressure wash it…. don’t. Pressure washing is a surefire way to force water underneath your shingles and/or potentially tear them off.

Getting Up To The Roof Safely Is The First Step


If you dont own one already, buy or rent a sturdy extension ladder that extends at least 3 ft. above the roof edge. Aluminum is the lightest, but fiberglass ladders provide better protection against electrocution in case the ladder accidentally touches a power line or live wire. If possible, set the ladder on firm, level ground. On uneven ground, place squares of plywood under one foot to level the ladder base and then secure it with wire or rope tied to stakes. Fasten the top of the ladder with rope or wire tied to a secure anchoring point such as a 20d nail driven into a rafter. That will keep it from sliding sideways as you step onto the roof.

Stepping from the ladder to the roof or from the roof to the ladder is precarious and can be unnerving. Here are a few pointers to make it easier and safer:

  • If possible, avoid carrying anything up the ladder. Use a helper and a bucket tied to a rope to hoist up tools and supplies.
  • Extend the top of the ladder at least 3 ft. above the roof edge so youll have something to hang on to as you step onto an off the roof. Never step on any of the ladder rungs above the roof.
  • Keep two hands on the top rung of the ladder as you step onto and off the roof.

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Alternatives To Walking On Your Roof

Those homeowners who are tempted to walk on their roof despite the risk may be interested in some alternatives that can allow you to perform your yearly roof tasks safely:

  • Extension ladders: If youre trying to clean gutters or hang Christmas lights, and you cant quite reach where you need to, you can invest in a larger extension ladder instead of stepping on the roof.
  • Extendable gutter cleaners: Some gutter cleaning tools extend, so you dont have to get on a ladder, never mind the roof, to clean your lower gutters.
  • Windows: While your second story window wont allow you to see the topmost portion of your roof, you can examine lower roof planes from it. You may also be able to hang some Christmas décor from the window.
  • Take pictures: If you want to see proof that there really is some damage on your roof, ask your roofer to take pictures of the damage. That way, you dont have to step on the roof to be sure youre working with an honest professional.

Is It Safe To Walk On A Clay Tile Roof

Spanish clay tiles give a home or building a refined, old-world appearance, enhancing a structure’s value and curb appeal. Unfortunately, they are costly, and walking on clay tile roofs exerts pressure that can easily crack the fragile tiles. Broken tiles can easily compromise the roof’s integrity, leading to structural and roofing damage and costly repairs. Therefore, to protect your expensive investment, you should avoid walking on your clay roof, leaving inspections, maintenance, and repairs to the roofing professionals.

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Can Walking On My Roof Void My Insurance

Insurance companies are always looking for reasons to deny claims. If you have stepped on your own roof or, worse, tried to complete repairs yourself, your insurance company may decide to deny any further claims you make on your roof. Many homeowners insurance policies require you to use only licensed professionals. Your insurance company may argue that by stepping on your roof, you took on the responsibility for the damage you caused.

Is Walking On Your Roof Safe


Although not an everyday occurrence, you may sometimes have the need to get up on your roof. Whether to clean off debris, fix a broken shingle, or to unclog the gutters some things are easier done from the roof.

But is walking on your roof safe? Before you get up on top of your home, consider the following:

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Should You Be Walking On Your Roof

The short answer to that question is almost always no. There are several reasons why it is never good idea to climb on your roof. If you have any issues which require attention, we recommend that you call a local Sarasota roofing professional to assist.

Structure: Newer roofs in South Florida are likely strong enough to handle the full weight of an adult, but the roof structure was not built for that purpose. Older homes may also be experiencing some deterioration underneath which is not readily visible, and you could break through if you walk on a weak spot of the roof. While falling through the roof is a rare occurrence, you could cause structural damage to the integrity of the roof.

Damage to Roofing Materials: If you have an asphalt shingle roof, you are far less likely to cause damage by walking on your roof. Shingles are flexible, and can usually handle people walking on them without sustaining too much damage although you do have to watch out for causing granular loss which could cause a reduction in their lifespan. On the other hand, clay tile roofs are very easy to break. Walking on a tile roof will often cause tiles to crack, and once this happens, leaks are likely to occur. Tile roofs are also harder and more expensive to repair and replace, so you want to be very careful about damaging them.

Your Local, Trusted, Sarasota Roofer

What Distances From The Rooftop For Fall Protection

For work on flat or low-sloped roofs, OSHA rooftop safety guidelines require fall protection. OSHA defines what fall protection is required based on how close employees are to the edge of the roof:

  • Less than 6 feet from the roof edge:Employers are to ensure that each employee is protected from falling by using fall protection systems such as guardrails, safety net system, fall restraint or fall arrest systems.
  • Between 6 feet and 15 feet from the roof edge:Employers are to ensure that each employee is protected from falling by using fall protection systems such as non-penetrating guardrails, safety net system, removable handrails, fall restraint or fall arrest systems. A secured designated area instead of rooftop fall protection systems is acceptable when the work is infrequent and temporary. A warning line is required at 6 feet to serve as a warning that a worker is nearing an unprotected edge.
  • More than 15 feet from the roof edge:Employers are to ensure that each employee is protected from falling by using fall protection systems such as mobile 360 guardrails, safety net, fall restraint, roof hatch, or fall arrest systems. Employers are not required to provide fall protection when the work is infrequent and temporary. A rule prohibiting employees from going within 15 feet of the roof edge without fall protection needs to be implemented and enforced.

There are special considerations for OSHA platform requirements, and

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