How to (safely) retract and lower a 40′ extension ladder


Last time I was using a 40' extension ladder, it was a major challenge to retract it back from being extended and up against a wall. There were two of us and it was seriously scary. Could have gone wrong and crashed, doing damage or worse to nearby building, vehicles and us, due to it size and particularly weight.

Is there a way to do this securely or is it always, for the lack of a better term, a crapshoot?

Best Answer

Your ladder should have a rope and pulley mechanism for extension and retraction. Make sure you understand how it operates to prevent finger injury. Normally it's simply a matter of pulling down on the front rope to raise the ladder. To retract, lift the ladder a few inches using the rope, which allows the retention brackets to release, and lower the ladder extension with the rope.

Walking the bottom out to lay the ladder down isn't a good option. It puts huge torque on the person holding the upper portion of the ladder and risks damage to the building.

A single fairly strong person can safely stand and lower a ladder by simply placing the ladder base against the wall our foundation and walking it up from underneath, or by backing away.

Watch a firefighter do it.