May is Deck Safety Month. Our decks take a regular beating without us always knowing that the wear and tear is happening. Your favorite outdoor space is exposed to the elements all year round and with all of the precipitation that we have had this year there is bound to be some places that need attention. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), an average of 33,000 people per year are injured because of the structural failure or collapse of a deck, porch, railing, or staircase. Six thousand of them suffer traumatic injuries. Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), tells you how to identify potentially dangerous deck problems. So before you invite the block over for a barbecue, hunt down these troubling signs and call an official inspector to check them out.
Be sure to check these areas on your deck regularly to prevent an accident.
- Rusted fasteners and connectors. Be sure to take a look under your deck to be sure that the connectors are sound. This is what holds your deck together. If you see rust or something looks loose please have an inspector look at it.
- Damage from bugs. Modern decks are built with lumber that is treated with materials that bugs do not like. According to the North American Deck and Railing Association(NADRA), there are about 50 million decks in North America; 40 million are residential and 10 million are commercial. Twenty million to twenty-five million of these decks are 30 years old. “If your deck is more than 30 years old, it’s a reason to be concerned,” he says. Typically, decks aren’t meant to be around for that long.
- Wood tends to split with wear and tear, but be certain that cracks and splits are a sign of a problem. Water can get trapped in the cracks and splits and freeze in the winter months causing more of a problem come spring.
- Rotted Wood. A little wood rot is not uncommon and fairly innocent but know that it does need attention and to keep an eye on it.
- Loose Railings. Deck railing is an essential part of your deck’s initial safety. It might seem like the perfect spot to take a seat if the gathering is large. Railings are not designed to be sat on.
- Mold and mildew growth. A green tinge on a deck in the shadows is nothing to bat an eye at, but if the discoloration bothers you, Lesh suggests cleaning it off with a bleach-and-water solution. Growths like mushrooms or fuzzy mold, however, require attention.
- Pops, creaks, and unusual give. For any change in your deck that seems to happen overnight, get an inspector’s opinion. Lesh says that when you walk across the deck to your favorite chair and hear a creak that wasn’t there before, the noise needs to be checked out. The same goes for a deck surface that feels spongey or springy.
If you need an inspection or would like us to design a new outdoor space for you be sure to give us a call!