Deck Safety Tips

May 12, 2019

 

Summer is almost here, and summer is the season of outdoor projects. That usually means contractors or homeowners taking on building decks.

 

A deck attached to a house is a structural component, which means it is under a load, and is also exposed to the elements. People often think that just because they can have 50 people in their house at one time, their deck can handle it as well. But your house’s structural components are protected nature. Your deck’s structural components are exposed to the weather, and over time may become compromised.

 

You can hire a professional, like Let Me Fix It Handyman Service to come in and do a deck inspection, or you can check some main parts of your deck to ensure safety.

 

Think about these factors when assessing the safety of your deck.

 

1. Is your deck safely and properly attached to your house? Your deck needs to be attached in a way that won’t cause water infiltration and damage. This kind of water infiltration can lead to your having to replace doors, windows, finished flooring, sub flooring, sheathing, structure—everything—in the area where water has crept in.

 

2. Is Your Ledger Board securely bolted?

The ledger board runs the entire length of the deck and needs to be securely bolted to the house. Never nailed. A deck will have to support a lot of weight, this is not the job for nails, or even screws, which do not have the necessary shear strength for the job. Make sure those bolts run into solid structure—not just into the exterior sheathing.

 

Rotting ledger boards are one of the main reasons for deck failures. If there is any visible rot on the ledger board you can be sure that it’s been compromised at a higher level than what you might think.

When inspecting your ledger board, make sure you:

-Check for visible rot on the ledger board.

-Check for dry rot by taking a screwdriver and tapping it with a hammer around the area where the joists attach to the ledger board. You can tell if there is rot if the screwdriver sinks into the wood.

-Make sure there are enough fasteners holding the ledger board in place

-Check to ensure your ledger board is bolted to the house (instead of being secured by nails). Nails can easily come out and don’t have the same strength as specialty fasteners.

 

3. Is moisture seeping in through your deck?

Sometimes the cause of a wet basement isn’t a foundation problem—it’s from water finding its way inside from the deck. Every time snow piles up on your deck, moisture will gather there. Over time, that area of your deck will rot.

That is a recipe for disaster if it gives way when there is weight on your deck. There has been plenty of stories in the news of deck disasters, caused by rotted out ledger boards or nails shearing off and allowing the deck to fall away from the house.

 

The ledger board is the area where most decks have problems. You need to make sure each and every bolt is caulked and sealed. And that ledger board has to be properly flashed to prevent water penetration.

 

 

 

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