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Telescopic ladders have everything one looks for in day to day use ladders. They are lightweight, retract up to 5 times for easy storage, portable, sturdy, and strong. But are telescopic ladders safe to use?
Yes! telescopic ladders are safe. These ladders are made of aluminum, one of the strongest but lightweight metal. They have a weight capacity of 300 pounds and most of them come with anti-skid pads that make them slip-resistant.
4 Best Telescopic Ladders
|Image||Name||Weight Capacity||Check Price|
|Xtend & Climb Pro Series 785P+ Telescoping Ladder||250 Pounds|
|COSCO SmartClose Telescoping Ladder||300 Pounds|
|Energy Bear Telescopic Ladder||330 Pounds|
|WolfWise Aluminum Telescoping Ladder||330 Pounds|
But it is not to be used for electrical work as aluminum conducts electricity and is very risky using for electrical works. Also, there are some other factors discussed in the article that needs to be taken care of when using a telescopic ladder.
What Is A Telescopic Ladder
If you have ever seen one of those oldie telescopes used by individuals for amateur skywatching, you would have noticed how they can be retracted.
The same is with telescopic ladders. There are individual sections that can be collapsed into one another or pulled out, as needed.
That is exactly the working principle of a telescopic ladder.
The various sections of the telescopic ladder between the rungs collapse into each other on being closed. This allows the ladder to be contracted several sizes down.
The ANSI ASC A14.2-2017 explains that “The rails in telescopic ladders consist of a series of stiles that retract within the next lower set of styles. Each section or set is two feet in length, or less”.
Basically, every stile, ie, a section of side rail between two rungs, is smaller in diameter than the one below it. This allows them to be pulled in to one another, fitting in just snugly but articulating smoothly, somewhat like Russian dolls.
When the ladder is needed, the stiles are pulled out. But they would not stay out as such. So, they must be locked in place so that they do not collapse back.
A telescopic ladder may have a single lock for all the stiles or individual locks for each section. The second one is less easy to operate, especially if you need to use the ladder at maximum height.
However, it is safer as one broken lock cannot cause any major casualties nor make the entire ladder non-functional. Also, It is also more versatile as you can use it at various heights by pulling out only as many stiles as you need.
Are Telescopic Ladders Safe?
As stated above, yes telescopic ladders are safe. They are strong, built with aircraft-grade aluminum, and can hold weight up to 300 pounds.
Also, they are skip-resistant and easy to store and transport.
But you should keep in mind not to use a telescopic ladder for electrical work.
Also, the telescopic ladders have a significant number of moving parts. The locks, the stiles, frequent opening, and retracting of the ladder.
Therefore, the maintenance, usage precautions, correct transportation procedures, and many other things must be kept in mind and meticulously followed for the ladder to be safe and long-lasting.
Also, One must also look for the safety certifications and do primary checks of their own when buying the ladder.
However, if these can be ensured, a telescopic ladder can be quite useful and satisfactorily safe. The minimal storage and transportation space requirements for appreciable height specifications make quite a win. Professionals and individuals with small homes will find these ladders a godsend.
Materials Used in Telescopic Ladders
Aluminum is the most commonly used material for telescopic ladders. Telescopic ladders are some of the most highly articulating ladders. Thus, its parts must be made of a material that can be given a smooth finish.
Aluminum is one third the weight of steel. Meaning the ladders made of aluminum are thick and strong like strong but weigh one third the weight of a steel ladder.
This property makes the telescopic ladder or any aluminum ladder in general lightweight as compared to other ladders. Also, the retraction property of a telescopic ladder makes them much easier to carry around.
Also noteworthy is the fact that the joints and locks of the telescopic ladder are mostly made of strong molded plastic. This is because the corners and open ends of both aluminum and fiberglass can be sharp and abrasive. This can be dangerous for users. So plastic is used to give the ladders rounded corners, which is safer.
Common Risks in Using Telescopic Ladders
No matter how safe you think any equipment or tool is, there always remains some risk in using it.
This is especially true for objects with moving parts. The telescopic ladder is no different. Here are some of the issues that you need to take care of:
Pinching Fingers When Retracting
This is the most common non-fatal injury that users of telescopic ladders face. It so often happens that you release the lock of the ladder or a section of it and let go of the rung. But before doing that, you forget to pull out your fingers from the lower rung or a stile being retracted.
This will bring the upper rung crashing on your fingers.
Unexpected Retracting When Mounted
If the telescopic ladder you are using is old, broken, or low-quality, it may so happen that the locks holding the rungs in an extended position snap out under pressure. It can happen when retracting the ladder or when you are climbing up the ladder.
The second scenario can be extremely dangerous, even fatal if you fall come crashing down from a great height.
Pressure On The Stiles
One of the technical disadvantages of a telescopic ladder lies in its design. Due to the progressively reducing size of the stiles as the height of the ladder increases, there is a tendency for the side rails to cave in when you stand at the top.
This puts a lot of sidewise pressure on the top stiles. The locks of the lower stiles too face huge pressure and have the greatest chance of snapping and breaking.
Issues With Moving Parts
Any equipment with moving parts faces some common troubles. One of them is the thermal expansion or contraction of metal parts, which results in misfits and jolty movement.
Moving parts also get weathered the fastest and result in weakened structure. Screws can become loose, locks can break, the stiles can get stuck, the possibilities are endless.
Safety Measures for Using Telescopic Ladders
There are three circumstances that you must keep in mind when you own a telescopic ladder. These three sections below will outline the measures to be taken during usage, for the retraction and for maintenance of any telescopic ladder.
Check the ladder thoroughly before use. Check for breakage, cracks loose parts, anything that may indicate damage.
Take the rubber or plastic shoe at the bottom out to check if any parts tumble out. The locks of telescopic ladders often break and the parts remain inside. This could give an indication of damage and save you from a fall later.
Opening The Ladder
Make sure the locks of the ladder are “clicked” closed properly and securely before mounting. Also, do not operate the locks after mounting the ladder.
If the ladder allows independent opening of the rungs and you are using that, open from the bottom first.
Always tie the top of the ladder to the support.
Follow the 4 is to 1 ratio rule. Make sure the friction of the shoes is intact.
When retracting the ladder, do not let the parts slide down rapidly. This may break the locking and moving mechanisms of the stiles.
Make sure your fingers are not in the way when retracting the ladder or you may get hurt.
If the retraction is not smooth, do not force it. Take your time.
Storage and Maintenance
- Always store the ladder with the safety straps on.
- Store it in a clean and dry place shielded from harsh environmental conditions.
- Keep the ladder clean and free of particulates by wiping it with a dry, clean cloth regularly.
- Do not lubricate the moving parts by your own discretion. This could make them lose their tightness beyond the safe limit and cause the ladder to retract involuntarily during use. Always follow the user manual for this.
- Do not stack anything on top as this can put undue pressure on the stiles.
We hope that you got your answer to “Are telescopic ladders safe?”
Yes, there are pros and cons of every ladder out there. And if we keep precautions and use the telescopic ladder as per instructions, it is definitely one of the best ladder available today.
But now that ladder certification associations are becoming more cautious and stringent ensuring that the end consumer gets the best quality and safe to use ladders.
If you are looking to buy a telescopic ladder for your project, we would say, go ahead! But do the details of ladders before buying one.