Back in March I wrote an article about “Why should you call a professional deck builder“. Well after the site I visited yesterday, I thought it might be a good idea to have an article on when should you call a professional deck builder? Some situations are blatantly obvious like the first row of pictures below. The second row, was not quite as obvious to the poor homeowners. They unfortunately happened to be on the deck at the time it collapsed with their 2 year old daughter. Fortunately in this case no one was hurt.
When you are doing your semi-annual / annual routine maintenance, make sure you take a good close look at your deck. Some major warning signs to look for; rotted wood; wood pulling away from other wood members; posts simply buried in the ground that may be twisting or leaning; loose railings; no carriage bolts used on the ledger; a ledger bolted or nailed to brick, or anything else that just looks off. Catching a problem early on may allow for a simple repair to be made, or it could save some-one’s neck, including yours. If in doubt, isn’t an inspection by a professional worth your piece of mind?
The First Row: What you can’t see in the first two pictures below are the ledger screws that are only screwed into the decorative brick. The posts, while you can see that they are undersized, and seemingly installed like most decks around here – buried in the ground at least 16″ – these posts were only buried 4″ for one and 2″ for the other. Once the trees, shrubs, 4 ledger screws, and stairway was removed – it fell completely over after three hits with a sledge hammer. You can easily see the difference between the original deck with one that is built correctly for all the environmental factors that apply.
The Second Row: Oh boy – the quick list; Rotted wood; undersized posts; inadequate bracing; no hangers used; nailed into the ledger, not bolted; posts are buried only; inadequate bracing for such a tall deck; improperly sized beams; etc…