There are times when decks collapse without warning, causing injuries or damage to property. In order to avoid such accidents, it is necessary to carry out regular maintenance, inspection, and repairs. Whether you have scheduled it on fall or spring, it is important to make it an annual event. Addressing these issues sooner prevents them from becoming bigger problems in the near future.
Small repairs can save you time and money since excessive damage demands major reconstruction projects that attract higher costs. To help you get things in shape, we narrowed down seven things that may be affecting the safety of your existing deck and how to solve them.
- Wood Rot
Discolored and spongy wood that falls apart or flake off when wet is a sign of rot that is affecting your deck’s safety. This is usually caused by pooling water and moisture that accumulates on decks. If left unattended, it can spread throughout the area causing extensive damage to the deck. Decay and dry rot also attract termites and other wood-eating insects that add to the problem. It compromises the structural integrity of your deck over time, translating into necessary repairs and major reconstruction projects. You are more likely to replace the whole deck if your ledger board or few joists are affected by rot.
- Gaps between Boards
An incorrect spacing between your boards compromises the safety of your deck. The importance of gaps between boards is to let rainwater drain through and allow for movements depending on the season. Most professionals use a quarter-inch spacing between the boards as a standard measurement. However, this may vary depending on the type of wood used on the deck and the climate in your area. The right spacing prevents small injuries such as your toe or heels being stuck in between the boards.
- Deck Railing Damage
Inspecting your railing for any signs of structural damage is one of the best ways to tell if your deck is safe. If they are moving rapidly every time you rest your arm on the railing, it is important to have them replaced to avoid future injuries. Loose screws, rust, pitting, and metal corrosion are some of the major causes of the problem that requires immediate attention. Decks and stairways are not safe until their railings are secure. Consider doing a deck railing replacement if you notice any issue with it.
- Need to replace deck floorboards
Inexperienced homeowners can compromise the structural integrity of their deck if the floorboards are not installed correctly. There is a good chance that you need to replace deck floorboards if they tend to give in every time you walk on your deck. Check underneath the structure to ensure all post connections, joist hangers, and ledger boards are complete and secure.
- Improper Footings
Check your deck footings for signs of damage if you feel like your deck is sloping away or is not level to the house. Improper footings can separate your deck from your house, as it adds stress to the points where the structure connects to your wall. Inadequate footings and improper attachment are two primary causes of catastrophic deck failure. Incorrect footings need to be replaced with new ones and should be installed by professionals.
- Nail Pop
Nail pop is one of the most common problems prevalent in aging decks. Planks or wood boards on older decks were secured with nails which can pop out at different times of the year. This is usually caused by contraction and expansion of wood during temperature changes. The movement caused by the temperature changes can squeeze or force the nail out of the wood compromising the safety of your deck. Besides tripping and falling, you are more likely to get hurt when walking barefoot on your deck. Screws offer a better experience compared to nails as they make things tighter.
- Problems with Flashing
Flashing is a waterproof material used to connect your deck to your wall or home. Deterioration or incorrect installation are some of the causes of failure in deck flashing. It needs to be extended to a minimum of 4 inches up the attached wall to prevent water from seeping into your home causing rot and mold problems.
Deck safety is not only prevalent in old decks but also affects new decks as well. Carrying out regular inspections helps to identify possible signs of rotting wood or problems that may affect a deck’s safety. Watch out for cracks, discoloration, and splinters, as they are some of the early signs of damage. Lastly, it is important to involve the professionals when constructing your deck to avoid compromising the structural integrity of your deck.