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DIY roof work in the winter

AtheraalAtheraal Registered User regular
edited November 2013 in Help / Advice Forum
Okay, so my Grandma has been wanting to put these foam inserts into her gutters for a while now, they supposedly keep the detritus out while allowing water though. To get them in, you have to really squeeze and stuff them into the gutter. She's finally decided to go out and get them tomorrow, and wants them put in the same day.

Now, we live in the Pacific Northwest, where it's cold and wet. It hasn't rained for a couple days, but the fog makes everything wet anyway, and the temperature's now below freezing for most of the day.

I have never gone up on a roof before. The only bit of 'safety equipment' I have is a length of climbing rope, no actual harness. The grade of the roof is fairly steep. This sounds to me like a recipe for disaster, even though I have a very good sense of balance. Am I being overly cautious in wanting to refuse to do it now, to wait until spring? If I do do it, how should I approach it to stay safe? Thanks for any replies!

Atheraal on


  • zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    What is the situation such that you need to be ON the roof in order to work on the gutters?

  • knitdanknitdan Registered User regular
    Depending on how big the inserts are, you might be able to get away with just going up on a ladder as opposed to going on to the roof. You'd probably have to move it a few times though.

    How much "detritus" is usually in your Granny's gutters? Unless she has a bunch of tall trees blowing leaves or needles onto her roof, this seems like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.

    Better to wait until summer if you can manage it.

    “I was quick when I came in here, I’m twice as quick now”
    -Indiana Solo, runner of blades
  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    How high a roof are we talking about? Generally if you're doing something to a gutter since it can't actually support any weight and kneeling down on the edge of a roof is kind of shaky anyway, you just do whatever it is from a ladder and never actually climb on the roof unless you really have to.

    Also, walking on a roof that is freezing and/or wet can cause problems with the shingles and creating leaks. You are putting tension on the roofing nails and applying a sheer force to the shingle possibly dislodging it. Worse in the winter/freezing because now water can get into the space that wasn't supposed to be there and freeze to expand and further damage.

    Do what you can from a ladder, if that's not possible, tell her she'll just have to wait.

  • AtheraalAtheraal Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Yeah, there are two gigantic pine trees on the property, basically hanging over the house. The front is accessible by ladder, but the back is two stories tall, way higher than any ladder we have.

    edit: in addition to all this, I just realized I'd be using the power washer to clean out the gutters before putting in the foam. So it'd be even more wet.

    Atheraal on
  • zerzhulzerzhul Registered User, Moderator mod
    edited November 2013
    I agree with waiting until the summer... but you should also get a taller ladder for the other side once you get to doing it, rather than hanging out near the edge of the roof. I bought a house recently with a similar setup, and immediately bought a 30ft extension ladder. Either that, or pay someone. If you don't feel comfortable being on a 2 story ladder, you should NOT be hanging out near the edge of the damned roof while on it :P

    edit: also, for any work where you are on a ladder make sure you have ladder holding person and that the ladder is always completely stable and on level footing.

    zerzhul on
  • AtheraalAtheraal Registered User regular
    Thanks guys, I'll stick to my guns on it then.

  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    edited November 2013
    Ya as a ex-roofer, if it's above a 30' slope ( and sounds like it is) with that high a chance of ice, and no harness, I would not do it via the roof.

    If you do decide to go the ladder route , (which I suggest you do even once the weather is nicer, it's hard enough to get compensation for falling off a roof when you are 100% following regulation), I suggest also getting a Gutter Guard of some type, they are many kinds and they are very cheap ranging from 10-25$ usually.

    They either attach to the end of the ladder, or drop into the gutter itself, and it just basically prevents denting/damaging the gutter itself from having a ladder on it. ( and it's much more stable than being directly on a gutter also)

    WiseManTobes on
    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
  • CelestialBadgerCelestialBadger Registered User regular
    Take a seasonal job and save up enough money to get a handyman to fix the roof for Grandma. :) Less chance of spinal fracture.

  • zepherinzepherin Registered User regular
    It is important to keep the gutters and downspouts clear. That will wreck a house fast. However it's also important to not die. Cleaning gutters by yourself is hard. iRobot has a robot that'll do it for 300 bucks. The internet generally agrees that it works alright.

    Having a professional clean your gutters is going to be about 150-200 bucks, but it's generally worth it. Having a fellow from home depot with questionable citizenship and who may stab you, will likely cost you 50 bucks.

    Now for the bad. The foam inserts are generally of poor quality and do not get things done. They keep stuff out of the downspouts and the gutters, but they also keep water out of them, so it just drops and puddles during anything more than a shower. Moderate to Heavy rain is bad. Gutter guard work pretty good, and look like a screen, but are significantly more expensive. 2-3 bucks a foot, 150 or 200 feet of roof so it's not super cheap, and they can be a bit of a bitch to get on.

  • bowenbowen How you doin'? Registered User regular
    The foam and guards work roughly the same. You'll still need to clean out your gutters and brush them off manually probably once a year. They just stop it from getting into the downspouts which is the biggest pain in the ass ever when it becomes impacted with gutter trash.

    Foam is less good than the grating/screen stuff, but still better than nothing. Most people think they're magic and they can ignore their gutters for 20 years and are surprised when debris chills out on the foam/guards.

    not a doctor, not a lawyer, examples I use may not be fully researched so don't take out of context plz, don't @ me
  • WiseManTobesWiseManTobes Registered User regular
    Oh ya the gutter screens do work good, but can be expensive, when I was talking about a Gutter Guard though, I meant one of these

    They both keep the ladder from denting the gutters from leaning on them, and help stabilize the ladder itself

    Steam! Battlenet:Wisemantobes#1508
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