Measuring height of ceiling without any ladder

Here is a way to get the height of the ceiling without having to use a ladder.

Get an appropriate length of string, tie it to a pebble, cover it with chewing gum (wet your fingers for this purpose).

Throw the pebble to the ceiling, mark the spot where the string touches the floor; pull the string down, measure the length from pebble to the spot where the string touched the floor.

A simple way to measure the height from ground to the bottom of your water storage tank tower.

Obtain an inflated balloon (look around your neighbors having a party for kids, for a free balloon that rises in the air).

Tie a string to the balloon and let it rise to the bottom of the tank on the tank tower.

Mark the point where the string reaches the ground.

Bring down the balloon, and measure the length of that spot to the balloon.
O.K., all you guys here, any better and easier ideas?

Susma Rio Sep

If you’re going to have to go get supplies anyway, just go get a friggin’ ladder.

And, to drastically shift the subject, what’s the deal with you continually posting non-general-questions to the General Questions forum? This thread really seems to belong in IMHO, or maybe MPSIMS. Certainly not GQ.

Don’t you have a long rigid rod that can reach the ceiling? Reach along the wall to the ceiling with the rod, and mark where the bottom end of the rod is. Use tape measure to measure height of this mark and also the length of the rod.

This is the classic high school geometry problem. Take a yard stick and do the line of sight or measure comparative shadows and do basic triangulation.

Move along folks, nothing to see here.

There are various devices for sale at hardware stores that use lasers to accurately measure distances.

Or you could just fill the room with water, drain the water into a tank, measure the volume and divide by the width and length of the room to get the height.

Sounds to me like you’re going to measure something (string, yarn ?) with a tape measure anyway. Just get one that’s extrawide/stiff. Mine will reach about 15’ or so before it collapses.

For higher stuff I have a telescopic pole (off an old pole saw) just raise the inner pole to the height and lock it down. Beats climbing ladders all day. Works great when measuring the height of rafters or ridge beams.

Set up a transit and shoot the beam measuring from the bottom.

Some days I’m up and down ladders ALL DAY LONG. By the end of the day…one less trip is a good thing.


This isn’t even close to a GQ!

take the barometer to the building superintendant and say ``Here, I’ll give you this nice shiny barometer if you tell me how tall the building is’’

To a high degree of confidence, I say it’s 9 feet +/- 1 foot.

You are gonna need a ladder anyway to clean the gum residue off the top of the wall. Might as well go get one up front and save yourself the cleaning job.


Get two rods (each of which is more than half the height of the room) press one end of one rod against the ceiling, press the other end of the other rod against the floor, mark a single straight line across both rods (at any point).
Measure the distance from the end of each rod to the marked line and add the two measurements together.

  1. Climb the tree outside, and get onto the roof.

  2. Tear off a few roof tiles or some roof sheeting. Enter the ceiling cavity.

  3. Punch a large hole through the ceiling.

  4. Drop chunks of plaster or roofing material through the hole. Time how long it takes for the pieces to hit the floor.

  5. height = 0.5 x 9.8 x time[sup]2[/sup] metres.


The sum of the squares of the legs of a right triangle are equal to the square of the hypotenuse.

I propose trigonometry :smiley:

And why shouldn’t this be a GQ? It seems perfectly valid to me. The question is: “how to measure heights without climbing a ladder?”. Quit being so anal, guys…

I think I win the contest. No one has come up with a more simple and easy and available and most thrifty method than mine.

Ha ha ha.

Would you like to know how to remove a toothbrush flushed by some kid into the toilet bowl that’s stuck in the U neck of the downflow outlet, but beyond the reach of your hand? I have a very good one also for this purpose.

Susma Rio Sep

If the contest was to think of stupid things to inappropriately post in GQ, then you win, Susma Rio Sep.

A party balloon is unlikely to be capable of lifting the weight of string required to reach the bottom of a water tower, plus wind effects will render your reading inaccurate. Trig is the way to go.

Look at the blueprints.

  1. Call the building or facilities manager and ask. Have your floor and room number handy.

  2. Decide if the building was built on metric or English units. Find someone who is a “clean” number of those units tall – five or six feet in the U.S.; 1.5, 1.75, or 2m in Europe – and have that person stand against the wall. A visual inspection at several paces will usually tell you within a foot or .25m how high the ceiling is; since standard ceiling heights are usually also “clean” numbers, whatever seems closest is probably right.

  3. If the wall is brick, cinderblock, or panel, you can count the rows and multiply by individual brick height. Don’t forget to include the height of one layer of mortar in your individual brick height figure.

  4. More complicated version of #2: stand an object of known height against the wall. Take a digital pic of the wall (floor to ceiling) including the benchmark object. Use photoshop or similar to measure the benchmark (in pixels) and the unknown height (in pixels). Multiply the ratio of the latter to the former by the known length to obtain ceiling height.

  5. Count the legs and divide by four.

Susma Rio Sep, General Questions is for questions that you do not already know the answers to.

Moved to IMHO, where you will get opinions and ideas on other ways to calculate the height of the ceiling.

General Questions Moderator