Walking on a roof made of steel panels is a little riskier than an asphalt shingle roof. While it is never recommended to walk on your roof if you are not a professional, there are times when a homeowner may need to just go up there. It could be simply needing to remove a fallen tree branch or inspection of the chimney flashing or a soil pipe boot. If this is you, please be sure to take precautions before deciding to walk on your metal roof.
Always Have Someone Close by
Before you even think about getting on top of your roof, have an action plan in place for an emergency. Have your cell phone on you to call for help. And be sure to have another person close by in case of accidents. You could slip and fall off, or tip the ladder over by accident. Having an extra person to help balance your ladder as you climb, or hand you tools is always a plus.
The shoes you wear is probably the most important thing to consider. Remember a smooth surface will not have any abrasion, so wearing a soft, rubber-soled set of shoes (like sneakers) are best to wear when walking on metal in order to get better grip and traction. Feel the bottom and make sure they are not the slippery foam kind of shoes, but have actual rubber soles.
Make sure to check the bottoms of your shoes and clean out any mud, debris, or small gravel that could possibly scrape and damage your panels. Always double check for anything that could interfere with your shoe’s traction. We never recommend wearing open-toed shoes while working on your roof. Don’t walk through wet grass to the ladder. Keep your shoes dry before getting to the top.
Weather is a major factor
Plan the day you need to get on your metal roof around the weather. You NEVER want to get on your roof when there’s precipitation either prior to or close by. Metal can get extremely slippery in any wet or rainy conditions. Also, consider the surface temperature to be a challenge to you if it’s a hot sunny summer day. It’s best to choose a dry, overcast day without any threat of rain. Always check for moisture on the surface before proceeding off the ladder, especially in the morning, from overnight condensation or humidity.
Use Safety Gear
Any time you are ever getting on top of your roof, always protect yourself with safety gear. This should include an OSHA approved safety ladder, a harness with tether strap to keep you from hitting the ground should you fall off (like the one pictured below by FallTech), and other fall protection equipment. We also recommend using padded stabilizers for your ladder in order to better protect the paint or finish on your metal panels. Always extend your ladder 3 feet above the eave so you have something to grab onto when getting off of and back onto the ladder. This is a must.
Make sure to follow all directions on how to properly wear your safety harness gear, including making sure it fits tightly and all the buckles are in good, working condition. Don’t forget — your safety should be the absolute number one priority.
Walk Slowly & Try to Avoid Stepping on Ribs, Laps, Etc.
If you must walk around on your metal roof, be sure to walk extremely slowly and carefully. Don’t rush around and risk losing your footing — simply take your time. Lean or shift your body weight over the roof to help you maintain a proper balance. The steeper the pitch (incline) on your roof is, the more helpful it will be to do this. You can also crouch down slightly to give you even more balance with a lower center of gravity.
As much as possible, walk closely to areas around the decking under the metal, and avoid stepping on the ribs and laps of your metal panels. The decking in a roofing system is the set of boards that fill the spaces between a roof’s structural components (like joists and trusses). This is a more solid area to walk on, and can decrease your chance of damaging the panels.
Be careful with tools — If you have to take any tools up onto your roof to fix an issue, just be extra cautious with them. It’s a good idea to opt for lightweight tools and use a tool belt to avoid dropping them and possibly causing damage to your panels.
When in doubt, always call a professional — Whatever the reasoning is that you need to get on top of your roof, if you are ever doubting your abilities or you are not comfortable doing this, it’s always best to just call a professional in. There are a lot of companies that do cleaning, repairs, and so on…. so if you’re even a little unsure about your ability to walk on your roof, don’t risk your safety and just make that call.
As always, safety should be your absolute top priority if you ever need to walk on top of your metal roof. Follow all recommended safety precautions to help protect you and your panels.
Contact our team today and let’s get started on your next Steel Panel Project.