We are proud to join NADRA & many deck professionals across the country in recognizing May as National Deck Safety Month. One of the tools we have promoted is a 10 point Safety check for homeowners. This year we thought we would bring it to life with some pictures. If you spot any issues listed below, we suggest you call in a professional or if you are experienced enough, fix the issue before it gets worse or the deck collapses.
1: Check for split or decaying wood
Make sure you look around for split boards & signs of rot. If you see paint that looks like it is bubbled or peeling as that is a sure sign of issues. It is best to probe with a screwdriver – if it pushes in easily & the wood feels soft or spongy you have a decay issue.
2. Check the flashing
While flashing should always be located where the deck meets up with the house, it actually is pretty rare to see (at least in our area). If you do not have flashing there or are seeing corrosion / water sitting on it instead of draining away it need to be corrected.
3. Check for loose or corroded fasteners
Check for loose or corroded fasteners – corrosion is a sure sign that the fastener is about to go & that the wood maybe rotting in that area. If you spot areas where there is sagging or the deck seems to be swaying – those are sure signs of loose fasteners or a deck where the connectors can work loose due to improper bracing.
If your deck is only connected with nails instead of bolts, or attached directly to a brick wall like this one was, you should call in a pro.
4. Check your railings & balusters
These should all be firmly in place & not easily move. Railings (the guard) should be at least 36″ tall (we prefer 42″) and the spacing between the balusters should not be more than 4″ (about the width of a half gallon carton of milk or juice)
5. Check your stairs
Going back to our first picture, if you have an “open riser” the opening should not be bigger than 4″. You should also check the balusters, railing aka guard, and any additional handrails are secured properly. Finally you should make sure there are no plantings or other issues blocking or growing up through the stairs – yeah they had three strikes on that one.
6. Cleanliness is next to…
Make sure you are keeping your deck cleaned off & maintained. Piles of leaves not only trap moisture but provide food for micro organisms to grow & thrive (even on composite decks). Make sure you keep up on your maintenance to not only prevent catastrophic issues, splinters, but also so you can enjoy your deck for years to come
7. Grills, Fire Pits, Chimneys…
Fire doesn’t mix to well with decks & houses – while they can add to an enjoyable atmosphere be sure to use caution and follow the manufacturers directions.
8. Lighting & Electrical
A well lit deck is safe deck at night – so check those bulbs & any electrical running to it to prevent shocks &/or fire hazards
9. Outdoor Furniture & Seating
Make sure you give it a good once over so there are no issues. Be careful placing seats near the edges of the deck (especially one without railings)
10. Look up
While trees are great at providing shade, the last thing you want it is a dead branch falling down during the middle of a dinner party or a sick tree being blown over during a storm wiping out your deck
While there are numerous other items that we do check in a professional deck inspection, by checking these items you should hopefully have a great summer free from problems & full of enjoyment. If you run into an issue, are confused about something, something doesn’t look right, or you are looking at redoing your deck, make sure you call in a professional.