Drone Stuck on Roof – What to Do (and Not Do)


One of the problems that novices and experienced drone flyers alike can experience from time to time is getting their drone stuck on the roof. There are various reasons why this unfortunate event can happen but the fact is that you only have one goal here, and that is to get the drone off of the roof. So, what can you do, and what should you not do when you find your drone stuck on a roof?

To reach your drone you can use a ladder, a fishing line, another drone, or a roof rake. However, never climb up a roof that isn’t yours. Also, avoid using water, throwing stuff at it, climbing the roof, or using or doing anything that can end up harming you or others just to get your drone from the roof.

We know that drones are expensive, and that means that you of course want to get your drone off the roof as soon as possible. However, when you are thinking of ways to recover your drone, always prioritize your safety and the safety of others so that you won’t end up harming yourself or anyone else in the process of retrieving the drone.

What to do if your drone is stuck on the roof

1. Use a ladder

This is the most obvious method you can try if your drone is stuck on the roof. That’s because you need to find a way to reach the roof and your drone. For this approach to work, it is best to have a long ladder that is as stable as possible so that you can reach your drone. Of course, you also need to make sure that you have a roof that isn’t too high to be able to reach it using a ladder.

But what you need to keep in mind here is that you shouldn’t climb onto the roof. Use your ladder only when you don’t have to leave your ladder to get the drone or if the drone is within your reach when you climb your ladder. Do not get on the roof unless you are already used to being on your roof. And make sure that you place the ladder on a spot that is sturdy and stable. 

It’s especially helpful if you can have a friend holding the bottom of the ladder to stabilize it as well. A spotter can also help you see where the drone is and give you directions from below. 

2. Fish it off

Another great strategy you can use when you want to get your drone out of the roof in a safe manner is to use a fishing rod and line. If you have a fishing rod at home and you have experience with fishing, tie a big enough hook at the end of the fishing line to support the size and weight of the drone. Then you can use your rod to try to fish the drone from the roof.

The one thing you need to remember here is that you have to make sure that you are far from any person or animal when you are using your casting your line because the hook can end up harming people or animals if it’s not cast very carefully. 

You should probably only try this method if you are quite experienced at using a fishing rod because someone inexperienced with casting a fishing line and hook might end up getting the hook stuck somewhere on your roof as well, and then you’ll have two things to get unstuck from your roof.

3. Use another drone

If you have another drone at home or if you have a neighbor or a friend that has a drone, you can make use of that drone to try to retrieve your drone from the roof. Make sure that the drone is big and strong enough to dislodge your drone from the roof but don’t try to use the second drone to carry your drone because most recreational drones don’t have the power to carry a payload of that size.

That said, it is best to simply try to dislodge the drone from the roof using the second drone. You should have a second person helping you out with this so that he will be able to catch the drone once it gets dislodged from the roof. After all, you don’t want to end up damaging the drone once it comes over the edge of the roof and falls down to the ground.

You may run into issues trying to use a drone with obstacle avoidance sensors to dislodge the stuck drone since the sensors will try to keep it from getting too close, let alone be able to push it. You can try turning off the obstacle avoidance feature, or use a drone that doesn’t have obstacle avoidance. 

It is important for someone to catch the drone once you have dislodged it from the roof.

4. Use a roof rake

Many homeowners have roof rakes to allow them to remove leaves, debris, and snow from the roof. You can try using a roof rake of this sort to try to retrieve your drone from the roof if it gets stuck. This will allow you to remove the drone without having to get on the roof or endanger anyone in the process.

However, it is important for someone to catch the drone once you have dislodged it from the roof using the rake. That’s because you will probably still be holding onto the rake when the drone has been dislodged and is on its way down. Unless you are quick enough to drop the rake and catch the drone, you need to have the assistance of a second person to do this job.

5. Ask permission

You might already be aware of this but it is against the law for you to try to get on your neighbor’s roof without his permission. That’s why when your drone is stuck on someone else’s roof, the first thing you need to do is explain the situation and ask permission first before you try to retrieve it. 

Be aware too, that you don’t even need to be on the person’s property to be trespassing. For example, if you are using a fishing line from your property, you still need your neighbor’s permission first. Or if you want to use a second drone to get it from the roof, you still need to obtain permission.

It is always best for you to actually approach your neighbor in the nicest way possible so that you will be able to retrieve your drone without violating any trespassing laws. And if you’re lucky, your neighbor might actually end up helping you retrieve the drone.

What NOT to do when your drone is stuck on the roof

1. Use water

Some people might think that a hose with strong water pressure is an effective way for you to get something off the roof. This might be effective when we’re talking about balls or boomerangs or anything similar to those things but a drone is an entirely different object.

Drones are devices with a lot of different electrical components. Moreover, most recreational drones are not made to be waterproof or even water-resistant. As such, when you use a hose to try to flush the drone off of the roof, you are going to risk damaging your drone in the process. You don’t want to lose your drone to water damage after retrieving it.

2. Throw stuff at it

It might sound like a good idea to throw something at your drone to try to dislodge it from the roof. However, that is never a good idea. Throwing rocks or anything hard at it is an obvious no-no because this could end up damaging the drone. But even something as soft as a nerf gun bullet can also damage the drone. Anything heavy enough to shift the drone is heavy enough to damage it.

Not to mention that all the inevitable misses as you’re throwing stuff at the drone also mean more objects stuck on the roof. You might not care whether that tennis ball comes back down right away, but then again it could come down at a later date on an unsuspecting passerby. 

It is best that you don’t try to throw or shoot stuff at the drone to make sure that it doesn’t get damaged. You might also end up shifting the drone over to a different spot or pushing it higher up the roof if you try to throw or shoot stuff at it, making it harder to reach in the long run. 

For the safety of everyone involved, avoid climbing your roof.

3. Climb the roof

Unless you are experienced with climbing on a roof, do not climb out onto the roof to reach your drone. Using a ladder is one thing but climbing the roof is an entirely different thing. Most roofs are built with quite a steep slope, which makes it hard to keep your balance and your footing. Depending on the roofing material, the surface can also be slippery. 

In most cases, people are not used to climbing on roofs. You will only end up endangering yourself if you try to climb onto the roof without the proper tools or training at your disposal.

However, if you are indeed confident in your climbing skills or if you have the right tools that will allow you to climb on the roof safely, you may be able to do this successfully and without endangering yourself. But, for the safety of everyone involved, avoid climbing your roof.

4. Anything harmful

This is where your common sense should apply. If you’re brainstorming ways to get your drone off of the roof using a strategy or a method that can harm yourself or others or cause property damage, cross that idea off your list. Just simply ask yourself if you think that using a certain method is safe or not, and that is how you will be able to tell if you should use that method.

Always prioritize your safety and the safety of others when thinking of strategies and methods to retrieve your drone from the roof. That way, you will be able to avoid doing anything that will end up causing more harm than good just to get the drone down. Your drone can be replaced but you and the life of others are irreplaceable

5. Retrieve the drone without your neighbor’s permission

It is never a good idea to retrieve your drone without your neighbor’s permission in the case that it is stuck on his roof and not yours. That’s because, again, we have trespassing laws to consider when you try to retrieve your drone from someone else’s roof.

Always make sure that you ask permission from your neighbor if you want to get your drone from his roof. This will ensure that you won’t end up getting yourself into any legal problems. At the very least, you want them to think of you as a respectful and courteous neighbor.

Elizabeth Ciobanu

Editor-in-Chief. Elizabeth is a full-time (homeschooling!) mom of four, and serial entrepreneur in a variety of enterprises, one of which is producing content for Droneblog. If free time existed, she would love to spend more time on hobbies such as flying a drone.

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