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Thread: Ladder Usage

  1. #1
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
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    Default Ladder Usage

    Anyone have any really good tips on using ladders for roof access. Sure I read the manufacturers labels and try to follow them as close as possible. Has anyone developed some type of stable base for using the ladder where it isnt practical to put it on concrete. The slope of some of these new roofs is making me much more cautious in how I get on and off the roof. Getting off is always the scary part. Having done it a zillion times, it still makes me think every time I do it.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    When I set the ladder on soil, I give the lower rung a few hard kicks to set it into the ground. If it doesn't feel firm, I try another location. That's my tried and true method.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    #1 - Do not go cheap when buying a ladder. You need a GOOD STURDY STABLE ladder. (I use two Little Giant ladders. They are great.)

    One thing I have started doing, especially when accessing a high roof, is tying off the top of the ladder to a gutter spike with a shock cord. That stabilizes the top of the ladder making stepping off and on the ladder much safer.

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  4. #4
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I havent been tieing off the ladder to gutters. Good idea though.

    As far as good ladders, Consumer Reports did an article a year or so ago on them. The Gorilla ladders (Home Depot) got good publicity.


    One thing I always try to do is make sure I carry a cell phone should there be any problems.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I own, and use, all of these products, as required:

    1) The best leg height adjusters I've tired:

    Levelok Quick Connect Leveler System, Safe your Ladder

    2) Through ladder roof access:

    Surprisingly light, I can use these on a 32' aluminum ladder at full extension single-handed if there is not too much wind. Lets you step through the handrails and onto the roof. I use this on both flat and pitched roofs if I can secure the ladder to the gutter or eave:

    Guardian #10800 Safe-T Ladder Extension System

    3) Ladder stabilizers:

    I use this when I can't get a good tie-off to the edge of a pitched roof. Heavier (max 24' ladder for me, single handed). Very stable laterally, but you do have to step around ladder. Works best on roofs 3/12 and steeper.

    Ladder Stabilizer Roof Placement

    Considerably lighter version of same concept, does not fit some "D" ring ladders. Better for "stand-off" than roof access:

    OPEN RUNG LADDER STANDOUT STABILIZER

    Please note: I do not use any of these to access more hazardous roofs than I used to, I use them from safer access to the same roofs I used to walk without them.

    I've probably got around $800 in "ladder accessories", but once I had this kit I really regretted that I had not put it together sooner.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 08-03-2007 at 07:21 PM.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Quote Originally Posted by imported_John Smith View Post
    Has anyone developed some type of stable base for using the ladder where it isn't practical to put it on concrete.

    Sure.

    You just can't buy them in North America:

    Ankalad Ladder Stabilisers
    Mills Ltd - cable management and specialist tooling for the communications industry
    Mills Ltd - cable management and specialist tooling for the communications industry

    Europe is light-years ahead of the US in personal safety equipment.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 08-03-2007 at 07:31 PM.

  7. #7
    Richard Rushing's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    No. Do not put you ladder feet on concrete. Always try to put the ladder on soil if at all possible. Make sure it is not leaning-- shim the footing platform is you have to.

    I want three runs above the edge. I have the last step 4-5 inches below the gutter and tie it of with a bungie to the gutter spike.

    Not tie-ing off the ladder at a spike and placing the base of the ladder on concerete or pavers is asking for a ride in the ambulance followed by someone waiting on you hand and foot for a bout a month(minimum).

    RR


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    If I have to set me ladder up on a deck, I try to make sure it is perpendicular to the deck boards. I will then place a screwdriver between deck boards at the bottom of the ladder to prevent kickouts.

    I also have a 4' 2x4 with a couple long screws. I will screw this down on the deck to prevent kickout. I am careful to place the screws between deck boards and into the joists. Most of the time there is enough clear space to do this, but even if there isn't, I'm only marring a small part of an edge.

    The guy that used to work for me had leg levelers and I keep meaning to get a pair, but haven't needed them enough.

    I have to admit that I don't tie my ladder off.

    What I find the most un-nerving is when I have to hoist my ladder up on a garage roof to get to the upper roof. I straddle the ridge. Just don't like that much, but there again, it doesn't come up much.
    JF


  9. #9
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack Feldmann View Post
    What I find the most un-nerving is when I have to hoist my ladder up on a garage roof to get to the upper roof. I straddle the ridge. Just don't like that much, but there again, it doesn't come up much.
    JF
    I do the same thing.... it's not bad doing the actual straddle of the ridge, it's pulling it down and re-placing it to get off the lower tier that sucks....


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I'll go from roof to roof (other things being equal) if my Xtend&Climb will get me to the second. If I have to haul a conventional extension ladder up there, then the second roof is "above and beyond" my inspection standards. OTOH, I will haul the X&C up the 32' ladder to set up on roof uphill of a chimney to get a look at the cap and flue.

    Last edited by Michael Thomas; 08-05-2007 at 06:58 AM.

  11. #11
    Vince Santos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Thomas View Post
    I'll go from roof to roof (other things being equal) if my Xtend&Climb will get me to the second. If I have to haul a conventional extension ladder up there, then the second roof is "above and beyond" my inspection standards. OTOH, I will haul the X&C up the 32' ladder to set up on roof uphill of a chimney to get a look at the cap and flue.
    I do the same thing but what I find is the drip edge on the secondary roof gets bent up. I have not damaged the shingles too much but still I would like to access the roof without having to lean the ladder up against the edge like that. So does anyone know how to get around that?


  12. #12
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Vince Santos View Post
    I do the same thing but what I find is the drip edge on the secondary roof gets bent up. I have not damaged the shingles too much but still I would like to access the roof without having to lean the ladder up against the edge like that. So does anyone know how to get around that?
    LadderMax on Xtend&Climb:

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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    My SoP's only require we carry a 12 foot ladder and my Worker's Comp insurance is priced on that fact. So, that's all we use... At times it's a limiation. It's never burned us too bad. It's hard for the state mediators/arbitrators to blame us for following the rules they set.

    As a side note.... I was recently on a composite deck on a hot day and just about became a statistic. It's amazing how little resistance to slippage that plastic surface provides. What's even more amazing is how fast I can come down a ladder as it's slipping out from under me


  14. #14
    Erol Kartal's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    My Xtend and Climb gets me on most roofs in my area. The 15' LG in the truck is rarely used. I would not climb to a second story roof even if I had the right ladder. I've known three inspectors who have fallen from second story roofs trying to impress the client. Two died.

    Erol Kartal
    Pro Inspect


  15. #15
    Vince Santos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Erol Kartal View Post
    My Xtend and Climb gets me on most roofs in my area. The 15' LG in the truck is rarely used. I would not climb to a second story roof even if I had the right ladder. I've known three inspectors who have fallen from second story roofs trying to impress the client. Two died.

    Erol Kartal
    Pro Inspect
    I found myself on a second story roof with a substantial slope this week. When I got up there I was scared as heck and had a hard time getting down without slipping. I almost sat down and slid down the roof just to get down. Probably one of the dumbest things I have ever done at an inspection and not something I plan to repeat.


  16. #16
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    LMAO

    Vince, that's something we've all done. Doesen't make it any better that it happened to you. But, man... I know the feeling.

    The getting up is the (rather) easy part... it's the gravity-- she's a beeiitch.

    rr


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Fellman View Post
    My SoP's only require we carry a 12 foot ladder and my Worker's Comp insurance is priced on that fact. So, that's all we use... At times it's a limiation. It's never burned us too bad. It's hard for the state mediators/arbitrators to blame us for following the rules they set.

    As a side note.... I was recently on a composite deck on a hot day and just about became a statistic. It's amazing how little resistance to slippage that plastic surface provides. What's even more amazing is how fast I can come down a ladder as it's slipping out from under me
    Oops... I realize I mis-spoke.... my SoP's don't address the ladder height.... the 12-foot thing is in my contract. I just know I don't have any 32 foot ladders


  18. #18
    Don Belmont's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    My most effective and safest ladder is a 25 power brass spyglass.

    Here in the North roofs are most commonly way to steep (12/12) to climb on without roof hooks and other stuff beyond the scope of an inspection.

    But when I do climb a ladder for the roof or anything else I rely on my Little Giant (the commercial version, not the homeowner version). With my 300 pounds and 6'4" frame I need something tough and it fits the bill. ALso nicely stable on the climb down which is the part I like best.


  19. #19
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    A good article on Ladder Safety was just republished in this months ASHI Reporter magazine, it was first published back in June of 2003. Due to all of the ladder accidents that have happened over he past couple of years this should be required reading for everyone.

    This is a link for the archived June 2003 article, the current issue can only be accessed if you belong to ASHI.
    An Ounce of Prevention: Ladder Safety | ASHI Reporter

    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Very public ladder misstep:

    YouTube - Home Shopping Network Ladder Fall


  21. #21
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    For what it's worth:

    As mentioned above, definitely bungee off your ladder to the rain gutter or elsewhere when possible. Doesn't seem like a big deal until you watch your ladder slide away across the gutter edge and you are wondering who you are gonna call to get you down! (That is if your cell phone hasn't already slid off the roof to the ground below!!)

    Also,

    I have been using the Gorilla brand knock-off of the Little Giant for 3 years now and I see no reason to spend $200 more for the Little Giant. It is for all intensive purposes the same ladder and is a lot cheaper at the big box. These types of convertible ladders are a little heavy at first but you get used to it and I only have to carry one ladder as it has worked for almost every scenario I needed. The times it didn't work were usually times I had no business trying to get to where I was going.

    Don't take chances on the roof. Period.

    I know a lot of inspectors do not get on roofs and the Texas SOP does not require it. I try to get on any roof that is safely walkable and I was on many, many roofs prior to becoming a home inspector. That being said, I have put myself in some dangerous situations that scared the #$*% out of me. It was not worth it. Listen to your gut. If you are hesitant about a climb, DON'T DO IT!! We get paid pretty well but not that well and we don't get paid at all if we are in a wheel chair or worse.

    IMO, although I sometimes feel like I haven't given a good inspection if I could not access certain parts of the roof, there is absolutely nothing wrong with telling my client that I could not safely get on a roof, and most of my clients have understood.

    Safety first, always.

    Eric


  22. #22
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Shuman View Post
    I have been using the Gorilla brand knock-off of the Little Giant for 3 years now and I see no reason to spend $200 more for the Little Giant. It is for all intensive purposes the same ladder and is a lot cheaper at the big box.
    I disagree. I own two Little Giant ladders. The ladders may have the same basic design but for all intents and purposes the ladders are not the same. A critical feature to compare is the locking hinge. I don't want to trust my wellbeing to a knockoff hinge while I am standing on top of a knockoff ladder, even (especially) if I saved $200.

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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I too have the Gorilla ladder. I bought it on the recommendation of a Consumer Reports article last year. I checked out the hinge design very carefully. I dont see any way it could fail.

    It works well and was reasonably priced. Little giant is probably a pretty good ladder to. The reason they cost so much is all of the advertising (someone has to pay for it). If you are dead set on a Little Giant, check at your local Sams Club. I have seen them in there several times on their "road shows".


  24. #24
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    The way I looked at inspectors and their tools was like home buyers looking at inspectors ...

    Well, it's almost as good, should be perfectly safe, and saves me a couple of hundred dollars.

    Yet, HIs bitch like crazy for home buyers not being able to see the difference between HIs and not being able to see why some are worth more than others.

    Just boggles my mind, I tell you.

    Any body here looked in a mirror lately?

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  25. #25
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Excellent observation, Jerry.

    "Baseball is like church. Many attend but few understand." Leo Durocher
    Bruce Breedlove
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  26. #26
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    There is not a single thing wrong with the Gorilla hinge system or any other component of the ladder as far as I can tell. Have you actually looked at the Gorilla? It is the same locking hinge system, at least on my 21 foot aluminum ladder. It's got the same OSHA label as the little giant ladder.

    I've been up and down this ladder at least a thousand times and never had a problem with the hinges or seen any signs of a problem.

    Not trying to throw stones here but if anyone can show me the difference in the safety locking hinge features I would like to see it. I would hate to be using a ladder that is not safe.

    I have watched the instructional video at the Little Giant website and I do not see any difference in design, function or operation of any of the components.


    Eric


  27. #27
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Eric you are absolutely right. As far as the OSHA sticker, Im sure it is supposed to imply something, but as with most warranties, you are probably on your own.


    As far as the Gorilla being "almost as good", I would like to see some empirical evidence indicating that the Little Giant or anything else is superior. It all comes down to personal choice. Kind of like motor oil for cars. Everybody thinks the brand they use is the absolute best. Reality is, they all work pretty good.


  28. #28
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    John,

    Very true. Personally I prefer Pennzoil.

    Eric


  29. #29
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Castrol Syntec.

    To quote from one of my favorite movies (which I have almost mysteriously became) "Neighbors" with John Belushi and Dan Akroyd "Always use Wolfs Head 10-30, it wont let you down".

    See the irony?


  30. #30
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    More on how not to use a ladder.

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  31. #31
    imported_John Smith's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I think that guy has been sniffing to much paint.


  32. #32
    Vince Santos's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I also use the aluminum Gorilla ladders purchased from home depot. I believe I got the 13' for $99.00 and the 21' for $199.00. They work great and are sturdy as can be. The only thing is when you release the locking tabs you better not have your fingers in the way or you will get a nice pinch or crunch.

    My only gripes are the weight and you have to keep the tabs well lubricated or they are a pain in the neck to operate and stick like crazy. Also when I am trying to adjust the height to the compact mode the bases always catch on each other and I have to tip the ladder over and guide it in so I can lock it.

    But they are sturdy and IMO a great deal.


  33. #33
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    While they are definitely an investment, I use Canon image stabilized binoculars. One is a 10X, there other is 18X. When getting on the roof is questionable the 18x really gives you a close up view and at that power the stabilization is necessary. Certainly not something you want to leave behind on a job though.

    When you consider a fall from a roof or a missed condition, these binoculars' costs begin to become more reasonable.

    I agree, getting off the roof is a lot different than getting on and there have been enough times where I wonder why the hell I ever tried to climb to the top.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  34. #34
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I am thinking of replacing my Werner ladder with the longest Little Giant and a extend-n-climb for indoors, since I am just short of reaching some second floor roofs with the one I have.
    I hate to climb steep and high roofs though, maybe a 21' ladder is long enough.
    Does any one use the Little Giant that is 6.5 feet closed and 23+ when open? If I get one of these, I would have to get a lighter indoor ladder though; it is tough enough to climb stairs to the second floor attic access with my Werner.
    I would not have a problem getting the larger size in the Werner adjustable ladder as far a quality, I just can't find the larger size available from anyone but Little Giant.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  35. #35
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Jim,

    I have Little Giant's 11, 17 and 22 foot ladders (or whatever the actual lengths are). I rarely pull the 22 foot out and for second floor roofs it's still rather short. Even if it does make it to the gutter it's not enough for actually getting onto the roof. The 17' is what I use a majority of the time going from lower roof to upper roof. The 11' is my indoor ladder and is perfect for everything inside.

    With a little framework to insert between the 3 ladders they stack very well and strapped down with elastic cords there's no rattling to drive you nuts.

    Eric Barker, ACI
    Lake Barrington, IL

  36. #36
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I have the Little Giant 17 footer and 26 footer, the 26 footer is what you really need for those two story homes.

    However, the 26 footer is a real bear to handle by ones self (I do it, but at 5' 6" the balance point is almost beyond my reach - a taller person could handle it easier ... it just would not be any lighter for them, though ).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
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  37. #37
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Hello,

    I just bought a 21' Gorilla ladder, but I wished it had better feet, say, those rotatable pads that allow you to spike them in the ground. Is there an aftermarket unit that I can bolt on to allow me to better plant the feet? I work outside a lot installing satellite network dishes on roofs.

    Many thanks,

    Steve S.
    Seattle, WA


  38. #38
    Lewis Capaul's Avatar
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    This is the time of year where ladders can get to be even more dangerous for those of us who work in the frozen North. The ground gets hard and slippery, gutters seem to become lubricated. So take extra care, secure the foot your ladder and, as others have suggested, tie off the top, watch especially the angle you set the ladder at, as ice and frozen ground will make the ladder kick out much more easily than on a warm summer day.

    Three years ago yesterday I came off a 2nd story roof because I was in too much of a hurry to move an air hose that was between the base of the ladder and the house, I saw it, thought about it, knew the risk, but I was in a hurry and ran up the ladder to remove a piece of scrap roofing, someone gave a yank on the air hose and kicked out the base of the ladder, the result was a 30' fall and me on my back looking at the bottom of my boot. Now two steel plates, 22 screws and four surgeries later, I don't get in a hurry when it comes to ladder safety. Take care, be safe.


  39. #39
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I must be the only guy here whom uses a 28 foot extention fiberglass (for electrical safety) along with hooks and claw feet for soil.
    If you guys are worried about slipping , one of the things you can do is to tie your ladder to something stable to the inside in front of you.
    To have the most stable angle I wouold recommend you stand with your toes at the bottom of the ladder and hold your arms out at shoulder height in a slight relaxed position as you hold the ladder .
    This will give you the perfect angle for stability.
    Also remember to have the thing go at least three rungs past the roof edge.


  40. #40
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I use a 'Climbtek' 12' aluminum ladder. I like it over the Little Giant because of the ease of expanding and collapsing. It has a bar at each hinge point and one pull does the trick. No reaching back and forth from side to side. I used one everyday for 7 years before it finally popped a spring out of one hinge point. I'm on my second one now and couldn't be happier. I got the first one at HD but had to find my second one on the web. I think it came from somewhere in Europe.


  41. #41
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    Quote Originally Posted by Bob Elliott View Post
    I must be the only guy here whom uses a 28 foot extention fiberglass (for electrical safety) along with hooks and claw feet for soil.
    Bob - That's what I use, too, when the folding 12 footer doesn't get me there. Sometimes I use a stand-off with it which really increases stability and keeps me off the gutter.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  42. #42
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    I concentrate more on the art of coming down, that why use a bonzo parachute .......


  43. #43
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    Default Re: Ladder Usage

    My old Gorilla 21' foldable broke a week ago. I kind of dropped it hard on one of the locking pins which broke and wouldnt work. I searched the internet, found Gorillas website and had a short IM with them. They said the ladder had a lifetime warranty, and all I had to do was return it to Home Depot. I took it to Home Depot and they gave me a brand new one. No hassle.

    I paid ~$190.00 when I bought mine. The one I picked up at HD had a special price on it of $129.00. If any body is looking for a good ladder, I would recommend the Gorilla. At $129.00, its a great deal.


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