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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Inspect Your Deck Before Spring & Summer Season

Dear Homeowners, Customers and Friends,
Deck season is approaching, so please don't forget to inspect your older porches, balconies and decks if you have them  and make sure they're  safe and ready to use for the upcoming season...
A few notes on a well-built deck, which  is one of the best remodeling investments you can make to add value to your home... But there is a large number of deck failures and resulting injuries throughout the Country every year so its a good idea to have your deck checked and do the required maintained if needed.

Most common question is " Why are so many decks failing?"

There could be many reasons for that, which include improper construction, improper sized lumber and span, exceeded live load capacity, poor maintenance and like anything else the age of the deck itself.
Deck is a very important part of the structure and it should be constructed right and meet all local code requirements... because most of the time it supports more of a live load then your house does, not to mention being always exposed to different elements of weather and seasonal changes.

Here is an example of  structure which can collapse at any given time, all it needs is a few extra people on it at the same time and nobody will suspect or see it coming.
You have a typical house with covered porch.

After siding is removed, here is what we find...a disaster waiting to happen
All structural components are deteriorated.

Keep in mind, deck can be easily overloaded with people, and collapse under all that weight if not maintained on regular bases. In many cases I observed improper build decks which were done by so called "fly by night contractors" who had no clue what they doing, not understanding  structural loads,  which  result in over extended lumber spans, undersized girders, footings being not deep enough or no footings at all, etc. and in result Homeowners end up with a none code compliant structure which is not safe and could cause injuries or worst.

Most  observed deck Issues during deck inspection, we find  most common issues with decks, which are:
• Wood supports are not pressure-treated, and rotting above or below the ground surface.
• Steel posts rusting through and on the verge to snap.
• Masonry piers with no footings or footings installed not deep enough, or masonry block support is bearing on loose soil, or being out of level and leaning.
• No poured concrete footings under the support posts, or posts resting directly on block or in contact with earth.
• Post base is improperly  fastened to the top footing or not fastened at all.
• Deck merely nailed onto the house, not bolted.
• No flashing installed and moisture penetrated the ledger board and sill place including house floor joists start to deteriorate.
• Improper joists ledger attachment.
• Stairs become lose and wobbly and poorly installed or fastened to the desk.
• Railings as well become lose and wobbly and must be fastened to the desk securely. Railings same as the stairs get most of the use and much be checked periodically.
• Railings unable to withstand reasonable lateral force, and pickets spaced so far apart, creating unsafe environment for kids.
• Improper flashing where the deck abuts the house to keep out water entry at the joint.
This are just most common issues.

Any deck can become a safety issue if not properly maintained. On the average, properly constructed deck with wood components, can last a long time with proper maintenance.
I would recommend yearly inspection of structural component attachments,..to make sure that  there is no signs of separation or any kind of displacement occurred... check for wood rot on existing older decks made out of regular wood, especially the ledger were its attached to the house...
Check posts that support the deck away from the house, and carry the beam (girder).  These are the crucial components of  every deck structure and the most common cause for all deck collapses around the Country.

In addition,   make sure  to obtain Building Permits for Decks, and other construction projects, and if not sure if you need one or not, stop at the Building department, tells them what you plan on doing, and ask if you need to apply for a building permit or not. It is  only for your own good,  to have a structure inspected so you can sleep good t night knowing you have a safe Deck. 
If you have questions about your deck - you can post your concerns here or email me at any time.

Take care, stay well and Have A Great Outdoor Season!