Safe lifespan of a fiberglass and aluminum extension ladder
June 21, 2022 9:01 AM   Subscribe

My father has a fiberglass extension ladder, with aluminum rungs. (It's the red ladder in the pic.) He estimates it's about 25 years old. He's been using it multiple times per year to get up on his roof, and he'd like to know whether he should be worried about some hidden structural decay that might cause it to suddenly fail. Do these ladders have specific lifespans? Is there some way to test their soundness?

I was telling my dad about Metafilter this morning, and how awesome it is, and he told me to ask y'all about his ladder. So this is a test! Help me prove Metafilter's worth!

In case it matters, the ladder is being used and stored in its current, mostly vertical position.
posted by wyzewoman to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: As long as the ladder was stored out of sunlight it should last a long time, but some sort of maintainence, such as cleaning, and if stored in exposed conditions, some sort of coating be applied. Here's Werner's own "technical manual" on how fiberglass ladders should be maintained.
posted by kschang at 9:10 AM on June 21 [4 favorites]

Best answer: OSHA doesn't have an age limit on ladders. As long as they can pass a pre-use inspection, they're good to go. This is probably overkill for a home use situation, but here is a pdf checklist very similar to what I use at my facilities.

(As a Safety professional, this question makes me so happy. Please give your dad a high five from me)
posted by Sparky Buttons at 10:19 AM on June 21 [9 favorites]

I was given almost that exact same pdf for ladders used for climbing telephone poles Sparky Buttons posted.
posted by The_Vegetables at 12:27 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I have a fiberglass trailer (similar to a Scamp) that’s close to 50 years old. It is still perfectly structurally intact. Fiberglass can last a long, long time if it’s not abused.
posted by azpenguin at 7:39 AM on June 22

Response by poster: Thanks all! This is reassuring to my dad (and to me!), and the checklists will be quite helpful.
posted by wyzewoman at 9:24 AM on June 22

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