May is National Deck Safety Month

I know I talked about this before but it’s important…especially if you have a deck.  Did you check yours last year when I told you about it?  Naughty, naughty……if not then please do it this year and even if you did last year, well… it’s time again.  A year is a long time to be out in the weather.

The North American Deck and Railing Association has a web site with several check lists you can use along with 2 videos showing a simulated deck collapse.  Well worth the watch.  All of this is even more important if your deck is at a second floor (or higher) level.  There are horror stories every year about a deck party that turned ugly.  A simple check can save you a lot of grief. Some things to look at.

  1. Are the posts on footings?  Most of the time they are but sometimes they are sitting on a broken cinder block or worse, right on the ground.
  2. How is it fastened to the house?  There are new requirements now that call for it to be tied back into the structure… I mean way back in the structure.  If it’s just nailed to the siding I wouldn’t go out there.
  3. Flashing.  It may not seem like much but I rarely see flashing against the house.  This allows rain to get behind your siding and the ledger.  Guess what happens?  The wood can rot and green things grow in the wall.
  4. Are the joists properly supported?  This could mean a lot of things form a metal joist hanger to a properly fastened ledger board.  Having them just nailed or screwed to a beam is NOT adequate.
  5. Is there lateral bracing?  If you can make the deck sway by shifting your weight this is a bad thing.
  6. Are the handrails loose?  They should be able to withstand 200 pounds of lateral pressure.  Are there guardrails in place?  So they meet the 4” spacing rule?
  7. Stairs…. They should be secure and have the correct riser height or a landing if there is a long run.

This is just a small sampling of what you should be looking for.  If you are in doubt hire a Home Inspector or a Deck expert for a review.

A good source of information is;

http://nadra.org/consumers/deck_safety_month.html

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