Is your deck safe? Inspection can prevent injuries
to hire a licensed inspector. Many decks built on homes were done so before certain codes were in place to protect the safety of occupants. Also, through the years, certain building codes change --your deck may no longer be safe in the eyes of the law. For your own personal safety and to sell your home down the line, it pays to have an inspector offer a report on the deck and what changes, if any, need to be made.
Wobbly railings and the deck’s connection to the house are the primary culprits behind deck collapses. In the past, decks needed only to be connected to the dwelling with nails. Times have changed.
Properly built decks display a number of features, one of which is continuous load path. A continuous load path is a method of construction that creates a series of solid connections within the structure of the deck. The weight load of the deck is transferred from its frame to the ground and an adjacent structure, such as your house. There are also a number of vital connections needed to create a safe and secure deck. Experts will know what to look for regarding these critical connections.
While it may take trained eyes to spot some of the safety features of decks, as a homeowner there are steps you can take to ensure safety before using your deck this season.
• Look for warning signs that the structure may be failing, such as missing or loose connections, corrosion, rot, and cracks.
• Maintain and protect the deck each and every season. Over time, metal connectors, screws and nails in your deck can corrode and weaken the structure, especially if the right product is not used. If you live in an area prone to moisture, such as along the coast or near bodies of water, the risk of corrosion is much higher. While many wood decks are built of treated wood, that does not make them invincible. It’s important to seal your deck against weather to avoid rotting beams and railings.
• Don’t overlook insects. There are a number of insects that see your deck and other wood structures as a free meal. They may lay nests, burrow or feed upon the structure, compromising its integrity.
• Take action quickly if you suspect a problem. A fall from a deck can be fatal. If you see a problem area or are advised by an inspector to make a change, do so promptly to ensure the safety of your family and guests.
All hands on deck!