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7 Signs of a failing deck

Is your deck at risk of collapse?

I recently read an article that 50% or approximately 20 million decks in the United are unsafe and in danger of collapse. Another study put out by the Consumer Product Safety Commission revealed that in a five-year period, over 224,000 people have been injured in deck incidents.

Is your Deck Code Compliant?

Surprisingly this is a growing epidemic that is more common than you think. Decks built in the 90’s and even early 2000’s built under different building codes then we have today. Even worse, we see more and more contractors build without permits. A deck requires many structural components such as a ledger, joists, beams, and footers that if not done right, can lead to serious safety issues. It is essential to hire a deck professional that stays current and abides with local building codes and regulations.

Deck Evaluation

So how can you know for sure you deck is safe? Below, is a list of common issues we regularly run across on existing decks. For a comprehensive checklist, visit the North American Deck and Railing Associations website.

  1. Rot
  2. Splitting of wood
  3. Missing or Corroded Hardware
  4. Loose or Missing railings
  5. Improper ledger attachment
  6. Ledger Flashing
  7. Improper Footings

Wood decay is inevitable on any deck due to the constant exposer to the elements. Check your deck boards, joist, and bottoms of you posts thoroughly for any decay or discoloration.

Rotting Deck Boards

Cracks found in dimensional lumber is very common and often normal, however, excessive splits in your decking, railing, or posts can weaken your deck making it unsafe.

Untreated balusters cracking

Nails, Screws, and other connectors are made of corrosive metals that will rust over time. It’s crucial to check for rusted hardware to insure structural strength. Check for any missing nails or screws as well.

Rusted bolts

Railings should be firm and have no movement in them at all. Any missing pieces such as a post or baluster will compromise the railing making it a safety hazard.

Missing Railing

The ledger attachment is the most crucial due to the fact that it is the structural connection to your house. It is important to check for rot and proper fastening. All ledgers need to be attached with lag screws and/or though bolts. If your ledger is only attached with nails, you are possibly at risk for your deck collapsing.

Ledger attached on brick veneer

Flashing behind the ledger insures that no water penetrates into the house and causes rot. If there is no flashing installed on ledger, theses a good possibility that your house rim joist has been compromised.

Rotted house rim joist due to improper flashing

Deck support posts that sit on top or are buried only a few inches below grade are subject to sinking. Although this part of your deck is hard to inspect, a deck footer should be constructed at least 36-inches below ground and show no signs of rot.

Improper post depth

If your deck has any one of these issues listed above, we recommend you contact one of our Project Developers to evaluate your deck. We will help determine what’s the best solution to make your outdoor living space both safe and enjoyable for years to come!

David Pfeiffer

Project Developer

About the Author

Hello! I’m David, one of the Project Developers here at Woodland Deck Company. Before Woodland, I obtained my bachelor's degree from The Ohio State University and worked in the landscape industry. Outside of work I enjoy soccer, golf, and pretty much anything to do with the outdoors. On weekends, my wife and I enjoy spending time with family and volunteering for our church’s youth group. The thing I like most about Woodland Deck is the great group of people I get to work with on a daily basis!

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