By Kevin Kelso
Owner, All Valley Window Cleaning 208-323-6187
One of my most memorable moments on an extension ladder came many years ago when I first started cleaning windows. I was on a twenty-four foot ladder inside a house and the ladder was set on a slick hardwood floor. There were no problems as I climbed the ladder. However, as I started cleaning the window, I felt my ladder slowly slip a couple of inches. I quickly grabbed onto a beam and held on until the homeowner came to hold my ladder after hearing me call for help. Shortly after that incident, I heard of another window cleaner that actually went down with his ladder because he set his ladder on a throw rug. He climbed his ladder to the top but took a quick ride down because the throw rug did not have a non-slip pad under it.
Both of those incidents sent me on a quest to ensure my ladder safety. To this day, after twenty-seven years, I have not had a ladder accident, nor has anyone in my company ever had a ladder accident. As homeowners invariably attempt to clean their own windows, I would like to pass on a few tips on making ladders safer.
Tip 1: Use a non-slip pad on slick surfaces.
This one is so easy and inexpensive, and it will increase your ladder safety a hundred-fold on slick surfaces. For about $5.00, you can go to Walmart’s throw rug department and pick up a non-slip pad that is made to use under carpets. However, instead of using it under a carpet, you simply set your ladder on it. It will keep your ladder from sliding down, even on very slick surfaces. I use this all the time.
Tip 2: Outfit your ladder with adjustable ladder legs.
Adjustable ladder legs are essential for setting your ladder on uneven ground or even on a stairway. Without the adjustable legs, many a window cleaner or painter has resorted to hunting around for sticks, rocks, or boards that can be put under the short leg on uneven ground. Setting up a ladder this way is not only much more time consuming, but it is far less safe than a good set of adjustable ladder legs. There are two types of ladder legs I have used. The one from Home Depot is less expensive, but heavier, making the ladder more difficult to carry. Last time I checked, they are not available in the stores, but may be purchased from Home Depot’s website for $39.99 and free shipping.
Northline Express sells a lighter weight set of ladder legs for $147.90. I have used these legs for many years and am very happy with them.
If you are interested in purchasing a ladder already equipped with adjustable legs rather than replacing legs on a traditional ladder, check out the Werner Ladder website.
Tip 3: Outfit your ladder with ladder stabilizers.
You’ve seen them before. They are the antler-looking devices that attach to the top of an extension ladder. Those who depend on ladders for their livelihood swear by them.
The main benefit is that it will keep your ladder from tilting side to side. It will also keep you away from the wall or window where you are working, making your task easier to perform. With the non-slip pad and the ladder stabilizers, your ladder is not going anywhere. It will be very secure. These “antlers” are also useful for setting on a ledge or a roof, preventing any possibility of the ladder slipping. They do make the ladder heavier, but they are well worth it in terms of safety. The best ladder stabilizer is the “Quick Click Stabilizer”, because of it’s ease in quickly attaching or removing from the ladder, priced at $42.00. Less desirable is the stabilizer that is fixed onto the ladder with nuts and bolts. This one is available for $25.00. Lowe’s carries both types, while Home Depot carries only the “Werner Aluminum Stabilizer”.
Also check out Amazon’s ladder page for more price comparisons.
These three tips have helped make our safety record at All Valley Window Cleaning impeccable. They will also go a long ways in keeping you safe on your home projects.
Visit All Valley Window Cleaning today to learn more about our outstanding window cleaning services for Idaho!