On May 21, 2012, we were interviewed by News 41 about our deck safety program called BE SAFER. Watch the segment above.
Do you suspect that your deck could be unsafe? Within the last six years there were 179 nationwide reported deck failures that resulted in 33 deaths and 1,122 people being injured. These accidents are unfortunate because when it comes to deck safety, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you have an older deck or a you inherited a deck of suspect quality, ensuring your deck’s safety requires attention. We pride ourselves on being outdoor living structure experts and part of that expertise is passing on tips and suggestions to homeowners to help ensure their deck is safe. Here are some helpful details that are crucial to ensure your deck is sound. Homeowners can routinely perform these inspections; however, it is recommended that your professional deck builder be contacted at least annually to conduct a thorough professional deck inspection.
The first facet to consider when checking your deck for structural stability and safety are the decking boards. Inspect the condition of your deck boards periodically to make sure they are sound. Most wooden decks will show some amount of normal splits and cracks over time, but in essence the decking boards should not show signs of splintering or rot. These indicate the deck may be a safety hazard.
Another area of your deck that is important to inspect are the connections. A properly built deck should be built using a variety of metal fasteners and hardware to create a stable and continuous path for safety and stability. Make sure the appropriate fasteners and connectors are present. Also check the condition of the hardware itself for rust, breaks or weakness, if any of these are present it is imperative to have the hardware replaced properly.
The deck as a working structure, or as a whole, should be inspected regularly to make sure your structure’s framework isn’t sagging or wobbly. Check to make sure the deck is sound and there are no inconsistencies between the supports, including the joists, posts and beams. Each part of your deck should interlock as a puzzle and if a piece of that puzzle is damaged or missing, you risk the structural integrity of the entire structure.
The area where the deck attaches to the house is a crucial area for safety reasons. This area is called the “house band” and this is the number one spot where most deck failures occur. When inspecting this area pay close attention to make sure the house band contain the proper screws or bolts and that it has been constructed with flashing to prevent water damage. If you see nails instead of screws and bolts, this is a signal that something is wrong. Nails are never used to attach the deck to the home.
Your deck’s foundations and footings should not be sinking, this is a sign that your deck has not been built with the appropriate load requirements. This causes improper shifts in weight supports and will cause the deck itself to sag and can cause columns to separate from the beams.
Check your deck’s railing to make sure it is secure. Make sure your pickets and balusters are secured safely and are no more that four inches apart. This can become a dangerous safety issue when the deck is elevated and the pickets and balusters are too far apart, especially for small children.
Last but certainly not least is an area most homeowners don’t think to check for safety. This is the exit area(s) from your deck. If you deck’s exit includes stairs, check the stringers, treads and risers to make sure they are structurally sound. In case an emergency of any kind arises you want a safe exit for yourself and others utilizing the deck.
Checking your deck periodically to ensure the safety of those enjoying the deck only takes a few minutes, but a deck accident can cost you a lifetime. Make sure to add deck safety to your routine of annual or semi-annual deck maintenance such as painting or staining the deck or cleaning it off to herald the season, remember to make this a deck safety habit before the outdoor season begins.
Concerned that your deck or porch may be in need of repair or in danger of collapse? We will come to your home and inspect your deck. You’ll get a professional assessment of any needed repairs or replacement. We can also provide a free consultation on replacing your deck.
See the article below. This happens all to often. About four times a year a deck falls and involves injuries which are serious enough to become national news. Over a quarter of our business involves repairing/removing decks which are no longer structurally sound. This is completely avoidable if proper construction methods are used.
Contact us for a free consultation. Call us at (478) 745 – 2000, email us or fill out the form below and we will quickly get in touch with you.