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Your deck is the perfect place to enjoy the warm weather with friends and loved ones. Without proper inspection your deck could be unsafe and potentially collapse or fail in some other way, causing serious injuries to you and your guests.
Older decks require closer scrutiny. Many of these decks were built before current International Building Code (IBC) requirements were in place for decks. If your deck is older, it is even more important to have it inspected by either a certified home inspector or a knowledgeable deck builder.
Below is a list of areas and components that should be periodically inspected including brief descriptions of what to look for.
General condition: Observe your deck from multiple vantage points; look for leaning, sagging, and sinking that would indicate the deck has moved since construction. Posts should look plumb, both front to back and side to side. The deck, stairs and railing should appear even and should not sway or move when tested.
Ledger: The ledger board is the part of the deck structure that is attached to the house. When a deck collapse occurs this is the likely point of failure. A deck should be attached to the house using bolts, never attached to the house with nails. Joists are attached to the ledger with metal hangers. Make sure all hangers are securely fastened and free of rust.
While checking the ledger, inspect the ledger flashing. This is a metal or plastic extrusion that directs water away from deck to house joint. If a ledger flashing is not installed or incorrectly installed water intrusion can cause decay to the house structure weakening the deck to house connection and lead to very costly repairs of the home.
Railing: Railings are required on all decks that are 30” or more above ground surface (grade). Minimum height for railings is 36” and the largest openings allowed are 4”. Push on railings and banisters to make sure they feel sturdy and up to the challenge of keeping people safely on the deck. Railings should be secured to the structure using bolts or specialty hardware, not attached with nails.
Stairs: Check the stringers (the sides of the stairs that hold up the steps), to be certain that they are securely attached at both the deck and at ground level. Check railings or handrails to make sure they are firmly in place and, if more than 30” above grade, that there are no openings larger than 4”. If the area behind the treads (steps) is open, these openings should also be no larger than 4”.
Wood components: Check several different areas of the deck to be sure the wood is still sound (no soft spots, mold etc). This includes the ledger board, support posts, joists underneath the deck, deck boards, railings and stairs. Pay particular attention to areas that can trap moisture and debris.
Use a tool such as an ice pick, awl or screwdriver to penetrate the wood. If you can easily push 1/4 to 1/2 inch into the lumber and break off a sliver of wood without splinters (wood breaks above tool), or discover that the wood is soft and spongy your deck may be decaying. Look for signs of wood destroying organisms. Insects may leave small holes in the wood or you may see mushrooms or fungus growing out of the wood.
Fasteners: Check the condition of nails, screws, bolts and anchors. Look for and tighten any loose fasteners. Any rusted/corroded fasteners need replacement, not only are the fasteners themselves weakened by corrosion but corroded fasteners can cause surrounding wood to deteriorate.
Finish: Clear away all leaves, needles and other debris. Debris can be slippery, trap moisture and promote the growth of algae, mildew, and other funguses. If the decking stain or waterproofing has worn away, protect the surface by cleaning and resealing the surface. Keeping the surface of your deck sealed will help prevent splitting and checking which leads to decay and loosened fasteners.
If you found anything questionable during the inspection of your deck have a Dexperts representative perform a professional safety check. Doing a safety check now and making any necessary repairs means you’re ready to safely use your deck as soon as warm weather returns.
Having your deck inspected now can help you avoid problems later. Please call us at (360) 305-9260 for more information or to schedule your deck inspection.
DEXPERTS is proud to announce that we will once again be hosting a booth at the annual Whatcom County Home & Garden Show. The event takes place from Friday, March 2nd through Sunday March 4th at the NW Washington fairgrounds in Lynden. This is always a fun opportunity to see all of the new products and ideas in the building and landscaping industry.
The show this year promises to feature over 300 exhibitors from roofers to remodelers and nurseries to appliance giants, as well as a full schedule of seminars and entertaining speakers. Cisco Morris, a perennial favorite, will be back on Saturday afternoon inviting anyone to stump him with their toughest gardening questions. Many presenters this year will be focusing on energy-efficiency and sustainable living techniques.
This will be our fifth year exhibiting at the Garden Show. We have met many new customers there and always look forward to seeing those from the past. Whether you are planning a major renovation or just want to take the family out for a few hours we hope you make it by our booth. We will be raffling off some cedar planter boxes and other prizes throughout the show so stop by and visit anytime.
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The goal of this blog is to provide useful information pertaining to outdoor construction, outdoor living spaces, and the deck industry. We will try to keep the topics local, pertinent and frequently updated. Some of the more common topics will be: our current activities, Special offers and promotions, building products, deck safety, and building codes.
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