Upon the ladder

LADDERS can be dangerous things, especially when used outdoors, so play safe with these tips.

LADDERS can be dangerous things, especially when used outdoors, so play safe with these tips.

n Lots of DIY accidents happen when people don’t take care on ladders and, obviously, the higher the ladder, the more dangerous it potentially is. It’s a good idea to have someone there when you’re up a ladder, preferably to hold it, but also in case anything happens to you, especially if you’re working outside and might not be found for some time if you fell.

n Ladders designed for use inside the home are fairly straightforward to get right. There should be instructions with them about how much weight they can take, which side you can climb up safely (on ladders where you can mount both sides) and about only using them with the safety catches locked in place, etc, but outdoor ladders can be trickier to make safe.

n Outdoors, your ladder should be placed on a firm, level surface and the top should rest against something solid, but not guttering or windowpanes or sills. To stop the ladder from slipping, secure both the top and bottom with straps or ropes and clips or hooks, ensuring they’re anchored to something immovable. If you can get someone to hold the ladder while you’re up it, even better.

n Before getting on a ladder, make sure you’re wearing sturdy, sensible shoes that won’t slip off. Equally, your ladder should have non-slip feet, so look for those when buying or hiring one.

n Never stretch or overreach when you’re up a ladder because this could destabilise you or it - move it instead. The angle of the ladder is another important consideration when it comes to safety - make sure the distance of the ladder’s feet from the wall is 25% of the ladder’s height.

DIY news bulletin

n If you plan to spend a lot of time in your garden from now until autumn, forget environmentally unfriendly gas patio heaters and check out the Dakota log burner. With contemporary styling, this cast-iron burner has four sturdy legs, and gauze panels on all sides to protect against the flames and flying sparks. Great for outdoor parties and barbecues, especially at this time of year when the evenings can be chilly.

Ask the expert...

Q: I’m about to put up some shelves - can I put them anywhere?

A: No, there are a couple of things to consider. First, you need to check that there aren’t any pipes or electrical cables in the part of the wall you’re about to drill into. To do this, you need an electronic cable and pipe detector. If your wall’s a stud one, you’ll need a detector that also picks up studs. Your best bet is to fix the shelves to the studs, especially if you’re planning to put anything heavy on them, but you could try using heavy-duty butterfly screws if the studs aren’t in a convenient place.

Seasonal task...

It’s the time of year when condensation on windows is happening less and less overnight, but months of condensation may have had a bad effect on your walls, skirting boards, window frames and curtains or blinds, so make this your priority for spring cleaning and DIY. If your walls have suffered badly, try fungicidal paint (or fungicide paint additive), or fungicidal paste if you’re wallpapering, which help to prevent mould growth.