Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Good ladders

It’s no secret that I’m frugal, cheap even. I don’t like to spend money I don’t have to. No need to get the Cadillac solution when the bicycle solution will do.

There are a few places where I do not skimp. I’m a big believer in quality ladders. Part of that comes from having been a Firefighter and learning a thing or two about ladders. Mainly though, it just makes sense. Cheap ladders can kill or maim you. It doesn’t take much of a fall to cause serious injury.

I’m a big fat guy so get heavy duty fiberglass ladders. I like fiberglass over other materials. Wood rots. Aluminum ladders tend to be too bouncy for my tastes and they also conduct electricity. A 28 footer is about as big a I feel comfortable handling alone.

I also have a 10 foot fiberglass stepladder. When you live inside a dome, having a safe way to reach that high ceiling is almost a necessity. It’s also the right height for adjusting my solar panels.

Both ladders are needed to reach the top of my roof. The 28 footer gets me up a couple stories. I carry the stepladder up to a second floor roof and from there reach the top of the dome. That’s how I clean my chimney. By saving the cost of a good chimney sweep, those ladders paid for themselves long ago.

Quality ladders aren’t cheap, but if you do your own home maintenance and repairs, they pay for themselves. Some areas of the country, single story ranch houses dominate. It doesn’t take much of a ladder to do what you need to do. In snow country, people tend to build higher rather than spread out. Roofs have steep pitches to shed snow. Don’t even think about messing around with cheap ladders.

Of course, if you are terrified of heights, don’t bother buying any ladder at all. Take the money you’d have spent on a ladder and hire someone to do the job for you. Unlike many of our fears, the fear of falling is a rational fear. Falls kill people every year.

If you aren’t sure about heights but are willing to try, many places rent good ladders. Try before you buy. Often people find that after a short while, they become comfortable working on ladders. You might be one of those people.

If you do get a ladder, get a good one, and learn the ins and outs of that particular model. Never get so relaxed that you cut corners and get careless. Quality can’t make up for stupid.


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