Minor roof damage, such as cracked or missing shingles, can most often be inexpensively repaired by homeowners without the need to hire an outside contractor. However, roof repairs are one of the most dangerous tasks a homeowner can perform on their own. These risks can be minimized by proper use of safety equipment. If you are in doubt, you should contact a professional before attempting repairs on your own. It's much better to be safe than to accidentally injure yourself in an attempt to save money.
Get A Friend To Supervise
The very first step of roof safety is, unfortunately, often overlooked. When you're going to be working on your roof, make sure you have a friend along to supervise, even if they are not going to be performing any tasks themselves or don't know anything about roofing. Having someone around to keep watch is important; if your ladder falls off of the roof, they can help to put it back up again so you don't get stuck. They will also be available in the event of an accident to call emergency services, so having a friend around can save your life.
Purchase Or Rent An Extension Ladder
You'll need a fairly large extension ladder for your roof repair; get one that can extend out to a length that's at least four feet higher than the height of your roof. Aluminum ladders are less expensive than fiberglass ones but can also be dangerous. Survey your roof to find out where the power line connects to the top of your roof and keep your ladder far away from it. Even if the ladder isn't touching the wire, electricity can arc from the wire to the ladder. You'll need to secure the ladder to the top of your roof as best you can; a good strategy is to drive a nail into a rafter, tie parachute cord around it, and then attach the cord to your ladder. This is to prevent the ladder from falling and to help stabilize it when you're stepping onto the roof.
Use Roof Brackets To Reduce The Risk Of Slipping
Installing roof brackets gives you an even ground to stand on when you're performing roof repairs; you can purchase them at most hardware stores. Roof brackets are installed under the shingles of your roof, raising them up to a ninety-degree angle perpendicular to the slope of the roof. You can then attach wooden planks between pairs of shingles. You should install these liberally on your roof; about one plank every six feet at the minimum in the space that you will be working. Note that roof brackets are designed to minimize your chance of falling by providing an even surface, they won't actually stop a fall by themselves if begin to fall and grab one on the way down. The brackets simply are not sturdy enough.
Attach Your Roofing Harness Correctly
The ultimate in roof safety, of course, is the roofing harness. These come with anchors that are nailed to the peak of your roof. The nails are driven into the rafters, which are easily able to support your weight in the event of a fall. Make sure you follow manufacturer instructions and nail the anchor to the peak of the roof; do not attempt to secure them to your roof by nailing them into a support board on the eaves since these are not nearly strong enough to support you. Also, ensure that your anchor is far enough away from the edge of the roof. Having too much slack on the line because the anchor is too close to the edge means that it won't protect you from hitting the ground, so keep the anchor's location in mind at all times when you are performing roof repairs.