Backyard decks provide an ideal location for entertainment and relaxing, as they define the outdoor living space of modern homes. Although decks provide all these benefits, they can become weak over time due to aging. It is possible to restore some older decks using new finish, hardware or boards. However, there are situations where decks need serious attention.
You might have considered working on improving your deck earlier but not quite sure when to make the adjustments. Are you certain that your old weathered deck will last for another blistering summer, rainy spring or snow-filled winter? It reaches a point where everything comes crashing down one by one, giving you a visual picture of the need for repair. So, when will you know it is time to replace your deck? Here are the top 3 signs that shows your deck needs to be replaced.
Railings are meant to protect you against falls especially when your deck is several inches away from the ground. Railings are the most crucial parts you need to start with, when conducting an inspection. If you touch them and they do not feel safe, then most likely you need to do a replacement. The best indication for replacement is when you can move the railing more than two inches at the top. Railings that look wobbly or unsteady are a safety hazard that needs to be looked into.
Hammering in new nails or bracing wobbly railings will not solve the problem, since it might be caused by serious damage from beneath the deck surface. Heavy leaning is one of the reasons why most railings lose their sturdiness. It is actually a solid boundary where people like to stand near when talking to each other, or when admiring the beautiful landscape of your backyard. Another reason why they might become loose is due to extensive damage or rotting of the deck itself.
If you want to test the strength of your railings, try to lean against them safely or wobble them a bit to see the extent of their damage. Healthy or new decks will always have strong railings that feel sturdy like steel. Any wobbliness implies that you need to contact a professional right away to determine the root cause of the problem. If your deck is not on the ground level, it is important to put up orange cones or caution tape to make sure nobody leans against an unsteady railing.
Weak or Unstable Ledger Boards
Ledger flashing is what usually keeps water out from getting between your deck and the place where it is connected to your home. It is important for the ledger board to be watertight around the place where it is attached to your home. The smallest water leaks can lead to the growth of molds in the walls of your house or cause the rim joist of the house to rot.
When these boards are damaged, the deck’s weight and gravity may make the whole structure to lean away from the building. A leaning deck is a serious sign of extensive damage that could cause someone to trip on the gap making the whole structure to collapse. Lack of ledger flashing may lead to other serious issues such as wobbling deck boards. This might be due to rotting that has been taking place at the rim joists. Other aspects of the deck also become weak over time, which makes them hazardous.
Your ledger board is likely to fall off if the rim joist becomes rotten causing the entire deck to topple over. Check under your deck if you are missing flashing to view the ledger board. If there is no a plastic or metal lip over the top of the ledger board, then you should consider renovating your deck.
Newer decks are often built a couple of inches above the ground using a special bracket and concrete footings to keep the base of the post dry. The posts of older decks usually rest directly on the footings, which can lead to rotting as they get soaked in water. This is more common on wood posts that are not pressure treated. The strength of deck posts diminishes the more they continue rotting and there are high chances that they will not be capable of holding the deck’s weight. Deck posts should be under the rim joist or beam as a matter of proper design.
Fastening the posts elsewhere such as to the side or rim joist or a beam places too much weight on the fasteners that connect the posts to the deck. This proves to be a hazardous condition over time leading to the collapse of a deck. The safest and best option for your deck is to have the posts replaced. The movement of water around the deck’s base tends to wear away the earth around each of the posts. Advanced erosion can destabilize the deck, leading to a snapped post or a wobbling deck. It is important to replace the deck completely to come up with the best plan of how posts are anchored into the ground below them.
If you have inspected your deck closely but you are not sure whether it is the right time to replace it, then you should consider contacting a professional to help you make the decision. A small issue may require a replacement since it can lead to collapse of the whole deck. A splintering railing, damaged ledger board, and rotting posts are some of the signs that should not be overlooked when performing a deck inspection. Deck safety should be one of your primary areas of concern especially if you spend most of your time in outdoor living spaces. Make sure the age of your deck fits the specified building regulations and that the posts are secured safely to the deck itself. If you notice any combination of these signs, then you should consider making a replacement instead of wasting time on repair efforts.