What is an Extension Ladder?

S. Zaimov

An extension ladder, also called a telescopic ladder, has sliding parts which can be pulled out to increase the length of the device. Many of these ladders come in even number increments, such as 20, 24 or 28 feet (about 6.10, 7.32 or 8.53 meters). The convenience of an extension ladder is that the pull-out slides can easily be retracted, allowing it to be stored in a smaller place.

Extension ladders are adjustable in length, and generally easy to move and store.
Extension ladders are adjustable in length, and generally easy to move and store.

Most of these types of ladders are easy to use, but there are still a number of safety tips that need to be followed. First, it is often important to examine where an extension ladder will be used to ensure that it can reach the desired height. The extensions will need to be pulled out and secured as directed by the manufacturer while the ladder is still on the ground.

Setting the device at an appropriate angle is the next crucial step. If the ladder is propped up at too steep or too horizontal an angle, the ladder may tip over or fall down. The ladder’s feet, or the supports firmly planting it to the ground, need to lean right onto the surface. Obstacles that might get in the way of the ladder’s stability should also be moved out of the way.

When extending an extension ladder a long way up, some people opt to better secure the base. This can be done by tying the legs with ropes or securing them with a wooden board. If the extension ladder is on uneven ground, such as a patch of grass, a small trench may have to be dug on the side facing the slope. This will cause the spurs on the ladder’s feet to dig in deeper into the earth should the ladder gets shaky.

When the base of the extension ladder is secure, the next step is generally to test out the stability at the top. The top of the ladder needs to be placed on an even surface that is not too near the edges of the structure one is trying to climb. Sometimes, installing a few accessories might be needed to improve security. A ladder stabilizer can be used, which consists of a pair of strong rubber pads attached to a pole fastened to the top of the ladder. These pads can stick to many surfaces without damaging them, such as glass, and prevent the ladder from tilting back.

If the ladder will provide a number of roundtrips, as is often the case when painting or fixing roofs, it may be a good idea to screw the top of the ladder to the surface of the structure. This will help ensure stability. Alternatively, if the option exists, placing the ladder next to an adjacent wall or stable structure can add a lot of extra stability.

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