After 1406 inspections, it happened…

Ladder safety is very important, especially in my line of work.  So here’s the story of my recent “incident”.

I have performed 1406 inspections over the last bunch of years and have never had an issue.  Well, I almost walked off a roof once, but that’s another story for another day.  So a couple of days ago I was repairing some wind damage on my old house.  Which is currently for sale (hint…hint…).  As I always do, I used the deck to get on that roof as it makes it easier to get up there.  (It’s where I had to go sometimes to clear the snow off of the DirecTV dish so the Packers would come in, I mean, I have priorities).  I currently use a Werner Multi-position ladder, I have for 7 or 8 years and it has been a nice ladder.  So I get on the laundry roof then pull the ladder up and repair my siding.  Now, it was a little damp and the ladder did want to slide on the shingles, but I made it past the hard part, so I thought.  I got the siding repaired and was ready to get on to my afternoon inspection.

So I fold the ladder back straight like an extension ladder and set it back down on the deck.  I am generally always careful to have the ladder angle correct.  Basically, if you are standing with your toes at the base of the ladder and extend your arms out straight, you should barely be able to touch the ladder.  Well, this is a little more challenging when you’re standing on a 6/12 pitched roof.  So, I set the ladder down and start down.

Now, this home hasn’t been lived in since Christmas time, so the deck hasn’t had any traffic.  You know what happens to a stained deck that’s damp and doesn’t get much sun, right?!? It gets green, and slimy and as I said earlier, it was a little damp out.  So the ladder base starts to slide out from under me, this is where my eyes started to bug out of my head.  Do you remember the roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons??  Well, I can tell you when you reach the point in your brain that tells you: “Oh Shit, we are really going down this time.” You kind of suspend in air for a little time just like the Coyote did.

The only saving grace was that for a split second the feet at the top of the ladder hooked on the gutter, but it happened too fast to pull a Clark W. Grizwold.  So I went down with a crash.  My legs went through the ladder and as it bounced of the deck my elbow and left shin took a beating.  Just scrapes and bruises, but I could have done without that, I mean, after all, ain’t nobody got time for that, Right?

So there is always a lesson to be learned, and here it is.  When you pull a stunt like this by having to take another ladder onto the roof to access a higher area, don’t use the same ladder you used to get on the roof in the first place.  The rubber feet on my ladder are also very worn and have been in need of replacement for some time.  That is probably the main reason for this incident.  On a regular basis you should check your ladders for wear and replace worn parts or replace the ladder if necessary.  It would also be wise to do these projects with someone around.  That is not always possible in my line of work, but my wife told me I should have had someone there.  And she is generally right, (that’s what she says anyway).

So, as I always say, Do as I say, not as I do.

Thanks for listening.



Aaron M. Zuehlke is the owner and inspector at Zuehlke Inspection Service, LLC, a full-service home inspection company serving Southern Wisconsin. Specializing in Home inspection, Radon Testing, Mold Testing/inspection and Residential Thermal Imaging.  He also manages several rental properties through Zuehlke Properties, LLC. He can be reached by email at or by calling the office at 608-931-7485.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this:
search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close