If you are one of the 40 million homeowners in the United States that are still using a deck that is over 20 years old it is time to take a step back and assess the general safety of your deck. According to NADRA, The North American Deck and Railing Association, deck failures that result in injury are increasing at an alarming rate. Most of the reason for this is the number of decks still standing that are over 20 years old and in dire need of retirement. Outdoor living trends began to escalate during the mid-1980’s and as a result homes were almost always built with a deck. The most prevalent material used on all those decks was pressure treated lumber. Without regular maintenance, pressure treated wood will rot, cup, warp, split and become a dangerous liability for you and your family. A deck that is in bad shape is like a house or cards. You never know which time or event will push your tired deck over the edge resulting in a failure. Though a deck may look alright from the top, the skeleton of your deck is the glue that holds it all together. When one part of your deck’s substructure begins to fail, it is only a matter of time before other problems arise. Many of these problems go unnoticed because they involve the portion of the deck that most homeowners rarely see on a regular basis.
To ensure your deck is safe and structurally sound Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad urges you to have a licensed deck professional thoroughly inspect your deck. As a proud participant in the Archadeck “Be Safer” deck safety program we also recommend that you follow a few tips and suggestions on the home front to make sure your deck is safe.
- Check the decking boards – over time most wood decks will show some cracks and splits, the main concern with the decking boards is splintering and rotting. A deck that is not safe to walk on is a safety hazard.
- Check the connections – a properly constructed deck is built with fasteners and other metal hardware connectors to make your deck stable from the bottom up. Check the fasteners to make sure they are in good working order, or are in need of replacement. You would be surprised at the calls we get from homeowners whose deck is missing pieces of vital hardware that were never properly installed when the deck was initially built.
- Check the structure – check the posts, beams and joists if visible for inconsistencies. Check to see if there is any noticeable sagging between any of the supports.
- Check the attachment to your home – the area where the deck attaches to your home is called the house band and this is where most deck failures can occur. Inspect this portion of the deck to make sure all screws and bolts are present, nails should never be used in the house band. Upon inspection also make sure the area is flashed properly to aid in water protection from this important connection site.
- Check the foundation and footings – foundations and footings are important because they support the weight of the deck. A sinking footing can cause a dangerous separation of a column from a beam and must be addressed immediately.
- Check the exits – check the stairs that are used for exits from your deck, make sure they are in good working order and structurally sound. It is very possible to have a deck that is sound only to have a rotting staircase that could endanger you and your guests upon entry and exit to your deck.
- Check the rails– always make sure the railing is secure and that the pickets and balusters are fastened properly. Keep in mind code dictates that rails should be spaced no more than four inches apart, a deck with non-conforming railing is a danger because small children and even pets can sometimes fall through the railing and get hurt.
Within a six-year period in the U.S., 33 people were killed from deck failures and 1,122 were injured. Archadeck of the Piedmont Triad offers a thorough deck safety inspection for a modest fee. We can also provide a free consultation on what would be involved with replacing your deck with an updated design that meets or exceeds all building code requirements and complements your outdoor living objectives. When it comes to keeping you and your family safe from a deck disaster, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Contact us to schedule your deck safety inspection today. Instilling the expertise of one of our deck experts will give you peace of mind in knowing you can enjoy your deck this season without worry. (336) 664 – 1332