When to Replace Your Attic Ladder

Posted by Steven Davidson on

An attic pull-down ladder is extremely dangerous and should be replaced immediately if any of these signs exist:

  1. The string that pulls down the ladder has broken or frayed. The string that pulls down the ladder may break with regular use, especially if it is made out of an abrasive material like nylon cord. If there are signs of wear at the top, this is another example of a sign that requires replacement. Sometimes people will wrap their own replacement strings around the pull down mechanism, but experts recommend that you go to a hardware store for materials before attempting to replace this kind of part on your own. This is because some parts need special tools to remove and attach, while others have a specific order in which they must be put together.
  2. The nails that hold the ladder to the wall are rusted or curved over into an inverted U-shape pattern. If your attic pull down ladder is rusting or falling apart in any way, it's time for a replacement! The safest type of ladder to install is one with brackets on each side of the wall opening and steel tension rods running through these brackets and up to the top rung of the ladder (a guide to this product can be found here ). Ladder safety devices like this need professional installation because they require two people: one person to hold each end of the bracket while another screws them in place. This is safer than a ladder with string because the device is not attached to anything but itself.
  3. The steps on the ladder are missing or broken such that they can't carry your weight without bending and potentially breaking through. Anytime a rung of an attic pull-down ladder bends, it needs to be replaced immediately! You should also replace any rungs that have splintered wooden surfaces and sharp edges, which would cause injury if someone were to step on them. If you do need to replace some of these rungs, use only metal ones so there's no risk of them breaking during use.
  4. You can see light coming in from between the wall and the topmost part of the attic pull down the ladder because it has separated away from the wall. This means that it should be replaced as soon as possible because the other rungs could break and cause someone to fall. When there's a ladder in use, however, this problem should not exist because the other rungs should be holding up the weight of anyone on top; if you find light coming through after use, it may be time for a new pull-down attic ladder.
  5. Rust or dirt has built up at any point where metal attaches to metal such as around the hinges, latches and support beams. Any area showing signs of rust should be sanded down smooth and repainted with rust-resistant paint before using it again . It might even require sanding and wire brushing until all parts are shiny or powdery before painting. You could even buy a replacement panel to use in the interim!
  6. The pull-down part of the ladder is broken and will not stay open without falling shut. If your attic pull down ladder is hard to open or close, this could be a sign that it needs replacement because it may just fall when you try to stand on it or put any weight on it at all. Another reason something like this would need replacement is if you're able to pry the doors apart and see between them where there's nothing but darkness and air -- not anymore than an inch . This means air can get through when closed, which makes this device unsafe for use until parts are replaced or repaired.
  7. The ladder has been used in another part of the house other than the attic. Often, people will try to use their attic ladder as a basement one or vice versa because they are able to carry things down that way, but this is extremely dangerous! They are not made with the same type of material and are meant for completely different kinds of weight distribution. If you have pulled your ladder out of your attic to go downstairs, throw it away or cut it up immediately !
  8. The pull down doors don't open wide enough for you to fit through. If you can only fit in an inch at most when pulling these pieces apart, there's no reason to continue using them . It's better to go ahead and replace the whole thing instead - even if it looks like it's never been used before, the metal has likely become weakened. You may even find that some of the rungs have bent or broken, which could cause you to fall if they snap completely!
  9. Any parts of your pull-down ladder are rusty from being left outside for an extended period of time . If the wood is rotten and/or damaged where it attaches itself to a wall because of rust damage, discard this ladder immediately ! Rust can spread to other areas very quickly, so making sure these ladders stay put won't be too difficult. It will also ensure your safety - if a pull down attic ladder breaks while in use, this increases your chance of injury as well as those around you.
  10. The inner supports are broken. If you can see dark holes in these supports, this means there is probably no way to repair them because the metal has corroded over time . This makes it even more necessary to immediately throw away the ladder and purchase a new one , as corrosion can spread just as quickly as rust.
  11. The ladder's weight limit is not being met . Every attic pull down ladder comes with a recommended weight limit that should be kept in mind before using the device to ensure your safety. If you find out after use that yours does not meet standards, replace it immediately ! Also remember that if there are any obstructions preventing the doors from opening fully or preventing you from fitting through completely -- such as boxes or furniture blocking your path - you can't use it either.
  12. The attic pull-down ladder is not attached to a wall at all, only resting on the floor. In this case, because it's impossible for you to attach them yourself and they do not come with instructions from the manufacturer setting out how to do so, throw them away! This could be a sign that something was missed during production or your attempts at installation and you'll need replacements instead. These ladders should be anchored firmly in place in order to ensure safety and prevent injuries.

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