Wednesday, July 15, 2020 / by Vanessa Saunders
By Vanessa Saunders, MBA, MIMC , Broker Owner, Global Property Systems Real Estate.
Summer is deck-time, as our outdoor decks are a popular recreational area to eat, chat and socially distance among friends. Could yours be hiding potential problems that make it a dangerous place to be?
Around 6,000 people are injured annually from collapsing decks in the United States. The reason is that some decks were either built wrong in the first place, or they have deteriorated over time.
If a deck was built prior to 1980, it very likely wasn't made with termite-resistent treated wood. Although some decks can last 30 to 40 years, the average life expectancy for a wooden deck is around 15 years. If your deck is older than 15 years, you should have it checked out by a home inspector or a builder who is familiar with construction code regulations.
Check your deck
You can check your deck yourself if you suspect it may not be in tip-top shape. Take some time to look for obvious damage - cracked boards or degraded posts that could lead to more serious problems in the future. Check the entire deck for rotting wood and termite holes. While it might not be obvious at first, use a screwdriver to poke around in any areas that look weak. If the wood feels spongy or soft inside, you’ll need to remove the rotten area and consult a professional to evaluate the extent of the damage.
Rotting wood can also be caused by water damage and fungi, and in general wood is affected by exposure to the elements. After all, your deck is subject to the weather 24/7; rain, snow, sun and wind can all be factors in causing your deck to decay, especially over decades of exposure and without proper maintenance.
Listen while you walk
As you walk on your deck, pay attention to any noises or movement your weight may cause. Weak boards, or railings not absolutely solid should be replaced or repaired. Likewise stairways and steps.
Check structural connections and hardware. If you don’t see the standard bolts and metal connector plates supporting your deck and only see nails, your deck is structurally unsound. Check to see if the wooden support posts that bear the weight of your deck to make sure they are squarely centered on concrete footings. In New York, posts touching the ground that are not on footings are a code violation.
Get your deck checked
If you do see any issues that may compromise the safety of your deck, contact a builder or deck installer to resolve them correctly. For client-approved professionals to inspect your deck, make repairs or build a new deck, click HERE.
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