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How to Perform a Safety Check of Your Maryland Deck

7/28/2015

Category: Safety
Tags: decks safety

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Did your deck make it through the Independence Day celebration? This is great and you should consider yourself lucky if you don’t actively monitor your deck’s safety. Deck collapses are fairly common during major holidays when a large family gathers on an old deck. Before your next family reunion or a back-to-school party, use these tips from our Maryland deck contractors to examine your deck and ensure its safety.

How Your Deck May Become Unsafe

You are probably wondering why deck safety inspection is even necessary. Your deck looks very sturdy, what could possibly be wrong with it? The truth is, each deck has its own expiration date as decks are not built to last forever. And certain factors may contribute to how fast your deck deteriorates and becomes unsafe. These factors include:

Weather

Just think about it. Your deck is sitting out there in the sun, rain and snow year after year. No matter what it’s made of (unless it’s diamonds), it will get damaged eventually. The boards will become brittle and the hardware will corrode and fall out.

Insects

As if the weather doesn’t do enough damage, there are always pesky insects, such as termites and carpenter bees that love wooden decks. Termites hollow wood from the inside, so you may not see them lurking around until it’s too late.

Poor Installation

When it comes to deck installation, there are two risks you may be facing. First of all, your deck could have been installed without a permit, which means it may be unsafe to begin with. Second of all, even if the permits were pulled, unprofessional contractors could have cut corners to get a bigger chunk of the profit. Our advice is to have your deck inspected by your trusted Maryland deck contractor if you have purchased a home with a deck of unknown origin.

Inappropriate Use

Each deck has its own weight capacity. However, most homeowners don’t even know what it is and don’t take it into account when decorating their decks or holding parties. For example, adding a heavy object such as a hot tub to an existing deck requires re-evaluation of weight distribution and may call for additional reinforcements. If you disregard this and keep piling heavy things or hosting large parties on your deck, it may hold but not for long. You could be one birthday party away from a serious injury!

Signs of an Unsafe Deck

  • Sagging, cracked or missing boards
  • Corroded or missing hardware, especially nails
  • Shaky railings
  • Wobbly boards on the stairs
  • Split or rotten wood

Where to Look For These Signs

  • Check the joists underneath the deck
  • Test the railings for stability
  • Walk on the entire surface to feel for cracking or sagging boards under your feet
  • Look on the ground underneath the deck for nails and screws that fell out

What to Do if You Find the Warning Signs

If your safety inspection revealed issues with the deck, the next step is to get a professional opinion. Can your deck be fixed with spot repair? Or should you tear it down and replace with a safer structure? Decks that were built 15 to 20 years ago typically warrant a replacement. The reason is that deck building codes have evolved a lot since then, especially after the tragic balcony collapse in Chicago that killed 13 people in 2003.

Contact Archway Remodeling today to have your old, unsafe deck replaced with a brand-new deck your entire family can safely enjoy.

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