Those pull down ladders

Home Inspector with Clayton Inspection Service, Inc.

I have a habit of checking all of the bolts and nuts on the hinges of the pull down ladders before I go up. I can not say just how many have loose nuts, or missing nuts, or even missing bolts. IN my tool pouch, I cary 3 or 4 1/4-20 nuts just for this reason. I probably buy a couple hundred of them a year. I have extra bolts I keep in the truck. I probably go through a dozen or so of them per year.

I usually do not do repairs when I am inspecting homes. I may tighten down a hose faucet stem that leaks, or add some screws to a crawlspace access door, but pretty much do not do repairs. However, since I am going to use the ladder to access the attic for inspecting, I want to make sure it is safe for me to climb.

The other pet peeve of mine is how they attach the ladder to the framing. Most of the time, they are not installed according to the manufacturer's specifications.

They are supposed to be secured to the framing with 16d nails or 1/4" lag screws, and NOT drywall screws. They are required to be in all four sides of the ladder (at least 8 fasteners), as well and through the holes in the metal brackets (usually 4 more). 

When someone installs one in a hallway, they usually cut through the bottom of at least one roof truss, sometimes two. This is not allowed.

The bottoms of the ladders need to be cut to the proper length and angle, so they fit properly at the bottom when the ladder is open.

If had homeowner's kind of laugh at me when I open the ladder then take out my screwdriver to tighten the bolts. It's kind of like. "What is this goof ball doing now?". They quit chuckling when I pull out a spare nut to replace one that is missing. I have replaced as many as 4 on one ladder.

Now go check yours.

Comments (4)

Ron Parise - Cape Coral, FL

One of the steel cables on a pull down ladder snapped as I was bringing down Christmas decorations from the attic.  It was like being whipped with a steel bull whip. It got me on the bicep twice as it was pulled  back by the spring loaded cable reel.

50 years later and I still check the hardware on those things every time I climb one

Apr 05, 2009 12:22 PM
Jack Gilleland
Home Inspection and Investor Services, Clayton - Clayton, OH

Jack, don't you wonder how something that is specifically made to retro fit (most with great instructions) can be put in wrong in so many ways.

Apr 05, 2009 03:46 PM
Jon Wnoroski
America's 1st Choice RH Realty Co., Inc. - Green, OH
Summit County Realtor

Hi Jack - Every home inspector I've worked with have been very thorough in their work.  As a Realtor, I really appreciate what home inspectors do and the time they take to discuss things of importance with my clients.  Thanks for your post.

May 15, 2009 12:57 PM
Robert Dirienzo
HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC - Franklin, TN
Home Inspections - Nashville TN


Probably one of the most dangerous things we do.  We are very careful when we go up these ladders for the first time.  Those hinges and connections are the Inspectionn at that point.

Thank You,

Richard Acree


Comments in this blog posting are the copyrighted intellectual property of Richard Acree, President, HABITEC Home and Building Inspections, LLC, and contributing members of the Active Rain Real Estate network, and are intended to educate and otherwise assist home owners, sellers and buyers, building owners, sellers and buyers, realtors, real estate investors, property managers, and lenders in the process of owning, buying or selling homes or commercial buildings.  HABITEC is a residential (home) and commercial building inspection company serving Middle Tennessee including Nashville, Brentwood, Franklin, Murfreesboro, Smyrna, Mt. Juliet, Hendersonville, Dickson, Belle Meade, Columbia, Spring Hill and more!  In addition to building inspections HABITEC offers Environmental Services for mold assessments, radon testing and water quality analysis.  Additional information about HABITEC can be found on our website at, or call 615-376-2753. 

Richard Acree is the author of the HABITEC Home and Building Inspections Blog and founder of the ActiveRain Group Tennessee Home and Building Inspectors.  All are welcome to join and see more blogs like this one. 


Sep 26, 2009 02:12 PM