Yeah, you’ve seen them: ladder racks that were past their prime (to put it gently).
Duct tape, wooden uprights, lots of bungee cords… all are major red flags. But of course, as a safe and responsible tradesperson, you’d never partake in any of the above.
But guess what? Your ladder rack may still need to be replaced.
In fact, many of the service workers we asked said that they have a hard time balancing the value of their ladder rack’s SAFETY with its COST.
We’re here to tell you that SAFETY trumps cost every time. EVERY. TIME.
So, does you need to replace your ladder rack?
If you’re even reading this, it’s probably time to take a good, hard look at your ladder rack and ask yourself if it’s time to call it quits.
SIGN #1: DAMAGE
Specifically on steel ladders, corrosion and rust are a signal that your ladder rack’s integrity is compromised. This is a problem in the Southern United States where the air is damp and humid. Moisture-rich air can eat into a steel rack and leave rust in its wake.
What it does to your ladder rack: Rust eats away at steel, weakening the structure and solidarity of your ladder rack.
Dents / Structural Damage
They go through a lot, our ladder racks. But there comes a time when those “love taps” become serious structural damage.
Ask yourself: What’s happened to my ladder rack? How many dents does it have? Can they be pounded out? Is there any significant structural damage due to dents? How damaged does my ladder look?
Image by Santeri Viinamäki [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
What it does to your ladder rack: Dents and structural damage lead to disaster, plain and simple.
Loose Parts (Clamps, Handle, Latch)
Loose parts are a definite sign of deterioration and wear. Ask yourself:
- Is the handle designed as part of the ladder rack or is it a separate piece?
- Do you feel like your ladder might fly off your rack at any time?
- Do you hear lots of rattling?
- Do you need to “pad” hooks or uprights?
- Are you missing screws, bolts, or other parts?
- Are you using bungee cords to keep your ladder secure?
- Do you use duct tape on your ladder rack IN ANY WAY?
What it looks like:
What it does to your ladder rack: Loose parts transform your ladder rack into a very dangerous piece of equipment.
SIGN #2 – POOR OR OUTDATED DESIGN
The design and style of your ladder rack is important to inspect, because it directly impacts your safety. If your rack is difficult to lower – or doesn’t lower at all – this can wear on your shoulders and back.
A poor ladder rack design is one that was made to cut costs, in most cases. When cost is the main concern, safety and ease-of-use take a back seat.
How do you spot a poorly designed ladder rack? One way is to carefully inspect the materials it’s made with. Check the joints carefully; a solidly structured joint is a sure sign of quality. Look at bolts and screws – if anything is loose or poorly made, it’s a sign that the integrity of the rack is in question. Also check what type of protection is in place for your ladder. No padding? That’s going to wear on your ladder over time.
Do a little investigating – go online and check out manufacturer reviews on Google, Facebook, and other social media sites you visit. Another sign that your ladder rack is quality – your manufacturer is well-known in your industry. Never heard of them? Time to re-think who you’re buying your rack from.
Things to Check:
- Material – Rack
- Material – Clamps
- Screws / Bolts
What it does to your ladder rack: A poor design can damage your ladder, your vehicle, and your overall health. Stop and ask yourself if it’s worth it.
SIGN #3 – CHANGING NEEDS
The last sign that you need a new ladder rack is that YOU’RE changing. Maybe your rack is great – or was great for your needs, at one time. But now you’re growing, or you’re changing vehicles, or maybe your business goals have changed. Whatever the reason, if your rack doesn’t fit your workflow, goals, and needs, it’s time to get a new ladder rack.
IS IT TIME TO REPLACE YOUR LADDER RACK
This article was written to help you decide if you need to replace your ladder rack. We’ve found it helpful to ask questions and note our answers to help us find clarity. Once you’ve really looked at your budget, your needs, and your overall situation, it’s simple to find the best ladder rack for you.
We’re Adrian Steel.
We’d be honored if you’d consider us when you replace your ladder rack. Skilled trades workers have been upfitting with Adrian Steel since 1945. Find out why.