RV roofs need to be accessed from time to time to perform repairs or for periodic inspections and/or maintenance. We will cover roof area preventative maintenance inspections in a future Blog article. This article will focus on how to safely access your RV roof.
Not all RV Roofs are Walkable
It is important to verify if an RV roof can be walked on before attempting to access it. A general rule of thumb is that if the RV has an access ladder, then the roof is walkable. However, there are many RV's without a mounted ladder that are walkable. Check with the manufacturer's customer service or technical support to verify the walkability of the roof if there is any doubt.
RV Mounted Ladders
In performing RV inspections, I have found that nearly half of the time the ladder has to be flagged as being unsafe. As an inspector, I will never climb an RV mounted ladder. They simply violate key ladder safety rules.
(1) They are vertically mounted vs the 75 degree angle necessary for safety
(2) They do not extend past the roof line at least 3 feet
(3) They are not sturdily fabricated.
(4) Their structural mounting points are questionable at best.
Safe Access to RV Roof
Little Giant 17 foot ladder
These ladders also come in 13, and 22 foot versions. Choose the ladder size based upon your RV storage compartment capacity as well as your RV roof height. You will want the ladder to extend past the roof by about 3 feet when at a 75 degree angle to the RV.
Xtend and Climb Pro Series 785P 15.5 foot
This is a very sturdy ANSI Type I / 250 lb. rated telescoping ladder that folds down to a compact 36 inch height and weighs approximately 36 lbs. Beware of less expensive, lighter duty telescoping ladders. They have been known to collapse down unexpectedly causing injury.
The disadvantage to the standard Little Giant ladder is that the extended top of the ladder flares out making it more challenging to safely step off the ladder and back on. A possible workaround is to remove the upper flared extension portion of the ladder. This will work if you are able to provide the required height including the 3 foot extension beyond the roof line without the flared extension portion of the ladder installed.
The advantage to the Xtend and Climb is that it is more compact for ease of storage, it is lightweight, and it is narrower at the top although caution must continue to be exercised in stepping off and on the ladder.
With either ladder it is recommended that it be used as follows:
(1) Extend the ladder for an approximate three foot extension beyond the roof line when leaned against the RV at a 75 degree angle. (for example: if your RV roof is 12 feet high, the base of the ladder will be three feet from the bottom of the RV.)
(2) Position the ladder to the side of the existing RV mounted ladder and secure it tightly at the top to the mounted ladder to prevent side to side movement when stepping off and on the ladder.
(3) Make sure the ladder feet are level and on solid ground
(4) Always face the ladder going up and down.
(5) Always maintain three points of contact on the ladder.
(6) Keep both hands free when ascending and descending the ladder. Carry tools and supplies in a backpack or hoist them up in a tool pouch once you are safely on the roof.
The Safest Method
The best method is to never have to step around the ladder to access the roof and climb back down. It is far safer to step through the ladder than to step around it. The Little Giant Epic series of ladders incorporates safety extensions that provide the desired 3 foot extension allowing step-through access to the roof.
These Epic series ladders come in a variety of sizes and are available at:
On The Roof - Hands and Knees
Once on the roof you will notice numerous trip hazards. It is recommended that you remain on your hands and knees.
(1) Use a good pair of comfortable soft padded knee pads
(2) Move about very carefully maintaining awareness of the location of vent pipes, vent covers, etc. so as not to damage them.
(3) Do not brace yourself or place any weight on skylights and vent covers as they could crack.
ToughBuilt - Foam Fit Knee Pads
Roof access is not for everyone. If you are uncomfortable with heights you are not alone and should not attempt to get on your roof. The good news is that there are NRVTA Certified Technicians that can provide an annual inspection and maintenance of your RV roof. They also offer air conditioning cleaning services that need to be performed on the roof each year. You can find an NRVTA Certified Technician near you at : http://www.RVTAA.org
I hope you have found this blog informative and useful to you.
If you are selling your RV and want to facilitate a quick sale it is good to have a recent Independent NRVIA Certified Inspection report on hand to share with prospective buyers.
If you are buying a new or preowned RV, be sure to hire an independent NRVIA Certified Inspector to give you the knowledge of the true condition of the RV before you buy. You can find an NRVIA Certified Inspector near you through the NRVIA web site locator.
Our primary objective at Sherlock RV Inspection Service, LLC is to serve you by making sure your RV is safe to occupy and all major systems and appliances are functioning as intended.
We are a mobile RV Inspection Service and will travel throughout the Southeast and beyond as needed. (subject to travel and per diem costs) Check out our web site to get to know us better and to preview inspection details and sample reports.
Sherlock RV Inspection Service, LLC
Office: 352 – 224 – 9477
Cell/Text: 678 – 360 - 6883