Labor Day, is almost here! It’s summer’s last hurrah! Will you be having an outdoor barbecue with family and friends? If so, have you considered checking out the safety level of your deck or balcony? Let’s look at why decks fail and what you can do to prevent it.
Deck and balcony failures happen in real life.
Family vacations, birthday celebrations and friendly parties turn suddenly catastrophic when decks and balconies fail.
Deck safety, or the lack thereof, has been in the news nationwide this summer. The stories are heartbreaking. Headlines such as these reveal the risk we face without regular deck inspections and maintenance:
- 24 people injured in deck collapse during family photo
- 14 injured, 2 critically as beach house deck collapses
- 6 dead, 7 hurt in California balcony collapse
Which decks are most likely to fail?
If your deck is fairly new, it likely had to be built to code — that is, up to the latest safety standards. Older decks are the ones that get overlooked. Having endured long-time exposure to the elements – rain, sun, wind and snow, they pose the greatest risk for collapse.
The deck that served you so well when the children were little may not be up to the job now that they are grown. To avoid the danger it may pose, it is essential that you know what to look for when you inspect your deck.
Four top causes of deck failure
- Rotted railings, deck boards and stairs are key culprits. But they are not alone.
- Whole decks can separate from the house when the main connecting board (ledger board) pulls away. This happens when the ledger board was only attached with nails (vs. special brackets and lag bolts used today), when it is merely attached to the siding, or when the board simply splits lengthwise.
- Hardware fasteners can rust, corrode and decompose, leading to failure.
- The rotting process happens more quickly when decks are not built with quality, pressure treated wood.
How to inspect your deck or balcony
Deck safety is a concern for us all. If you own a beach house on pilings, a mountain home or a multi-unit residence, you must be especially vigilant. Dry rot, rusty nails, splintering wood and separation are all strong signs that maintenance is needed promptly.
Following the tragic collapse of an apartment balcony this summer, the City of Berkeley has enacted routine inspections and balcony safety requirements. Apartment owners must hire inspectors to check all balconies. San Francisco is following the same path. Initial results indicate that these are not isolated incidents. As Mercury News reports, such “Safety problems are common in the region.”
You, too, can hire a local inspector to inspect your deck or balcony. In the meantime, the National Association of Decks and Railings (NADRA) has provided homeowners two valuable checklists for inspecting your deck. We are glad to offer them here:
NADRA Consumer Deck Checklist with Suggestions
NADRA Detailed Deck Evaluation Form
Where to find quality decking materials and hardware
So how safe is YOUR deck or balcony? After you inspect it, If you need to repair or replace your deck, Cox Industries offers the highest quality decking, timber and railing.
Cox’s DuraPine is one of the most successful treated wood products on the market. For information about DuraPine deck products that lead to years of durability and enjoyment enter your information below now.