Many roofing repairs are straightforward enough that homeowners choose to perform them all on their own. Although this impulse is to be applauded, no one should undertake roof repairs without proper safety protocols. If you would like to increase your knowledge of roofing safety, read on. This article will answer four common questions about why--and how--to use roof jacks.
What is the purpose of roof jacks?
Roof jacks are simple yet fundamental roofing tools, meant to increase your stability and safety while working on a roof. They consist of little more than a flat metal bar which curves into a J-shape at one end. Roof jacks are always used in pairs. Once two of them have been attached to the roof at the same height, a wooden board--either 2x8 or 2x10--can be laid across them to form a safe, level standing platform.
How do I attach the roof jacks to my roof?
Roof jacks are nothing if not convenient. All it takes to affix them to your roof is a handful of roofing nails--the exact same nails you use to keep your shingles in place. When installing a roof jack, it is always nailed into place so that the shingle above overlaps it. That way, when you take the jack out, the holes it leaves behind will be hidden, thus preventing unwanted leaks from developing.
What kinds of roofing projects are roof jacks helpful for?
The short answer here is that roof jacks should be considered indispensable for almost every roofing project performed on a slanted roof. That said, you may not deem it worthwhile to set up roof jacks if all you are doing is replacing a single shingle, though even in that case, they would increase your safety. Likewise, roof jacks are not as necessary if the pitch of your roof is less than 4-in-12.
How can I determine my roof pitch?
Roof pitch is simply a way of expressing the height increase over a fixed horizontal distance of 12 inches. Don't be dismayed if this seems like the thing that's going to take a lot of time and math to figure out. It's actually quite simple.
All you have to do is take a brief trip up into your attic. Take along two things--a helper, and a level with ruler markings along one of its edges. Now all you have to do is rest a top corner of the level against one of the roofing rafters. Make sure that it is perfectly level, and have your helper hold their finger at the 12" marking.
Now lift the level away and measure the distance from your helper's finger to the rafter above. Whatever this distance is, that's your rise. Say there were six inches between your helper's finger and the rafter. This means that your roof pitch is 6-in-12. In other words, the roof gets six inches higher for every twelve inches of horizontal length.