The holidays are rapidly approaching, and for some homeowners, that means an opportunity to channel their inner Clark Griswold and plan a spectacular decoration scheme for their home. Today, decorating a home’s exterior can easily go from stringing lights on a few bushes to a whole house exercise rivaling the Vegas Strip. That’s fine; just remember to proceed safely, particularly when your feet leave the ground. With that in mind, let’s chat about the do’s and don’ts of decorating a roof for the holidays.
Sure, Santa makes navigating a roof with a big bag of toys on his back look like a piece of cake. Still, the Consumer Product Safety Commission says nearly 20,000 people will be injured decorating their homes. Over half of those injuries will involve falls. Working on a roof can be dangerous even in the best of weather, so personal safety is job one. In addition, if you are using nails, screws, or staples to install lights and inflatables, you are damaging your roofing material.
So, let’s take a look at some common sense do’s and don’ts designed to keep both you and your home safe that will still allow you to stage a holiday extravaganza:
- Preparations. Have a plan before you start. Here’s a simple example. If you are going to run a string of lights across your front gutter, make sure you have an adequate supply of outdoor-rated lights. Test them to ensure they all light. Make sure your extension cord(s) are rated for outdoor use. Plan on using plastic clips or magnet hooks to support the lights. Ensure your ladder is rated to support your weight and is tall enough to extend three feet beyond the gutter. Pick a level ladder site(s) that gives you a stable base for the ladder. Once you have a plan, your gear works, and you have enough to do the job, you are ready to begin.
- Fasteners and Hooks. Anytime you penetrate a roofing material (shingle or underlayment), you expose your roof to future water, ice, and wind damage. And that’s why you don’t want to use nails, screws, or staples to hang your lights. They are a pain to nail down and a pain to remove, plus there is the risk of damaging lights and causing a short. There are many plastic clips and sliders available on the market that are easy to put on and take off that do not pose any damage to the roof.
- A Word About Ladders. Unless you routinely work on ladders, you have to understand, climbing a ladder outside is not the same thing as standing on a stepladder inside while painting a wall. It would be best if you were fit. You need to wear soft rubber soles for traction. Most of all, you need to have a high sense of situational awareness. Climbing is tricky enough without worrying about the ladder. Make sure it is designed to support your weight and is firmly planted on a flat, stable surface. Lastly, don’t overreach. It’s tempting to stretch and get another foot of lights up, but play it safe and go down and move the ladder first.
If you have to have an inflatable Santa on your roof, you’re in for a challenge. Inflatables need to be tied down or weighed down sufficiently to withstand winter storms. On sloped roofs, that can be difficult and typically require a helper, meaning another potential fall victim. If you are going to go all out, consider hiring pros. They not only professionally install your decorations but often have better design ideas than the average homeowner.
One last consideration. If you have an older roof, or one that storms have damaged, have one of our experts from Roofstar Arizona inspect it first. Just like you want a stable platform for your ladder, you want a stable, safe roof to place your decorations on. So give us a call today to schedule your inspection.