Decks are a wonderful area to barbecue, host parties, and enjoy spending time outside. Unfortunately, they can also be dangerous and as decks age they become increasingly likely to fail. Spring is a great time of year to have an annual deck inspection performed to make sure your deck is in good, stable condition.
Importance of an Annual Deck Inspection
Yearly inspections are critical for a number of reasons. Deck failure can cause injury or even death, and it often occurs when the deck is stressed by a large number of people, such as during a party. Having an annual inspection allows you to make sure that your deck is safe for you and your family and friends to enjoy.
As decks age, they are more likely to experience structural breakdown due to exposure to weather and temperature fluctuations. Older decks also create a potential problem because the building codes, decking materials, and construction methods have changed since they were built. An old deck that was up to code when it was built may not longer be up to code.
Wood rot is a common cause of deck failure. It is usually caused by improperly installed flashing that allows the wood of your deck to be exposed to water. Wood rot begins attacking the wood when its moisture content reaches 19 percent, but the damage is difficult to spot early on. Finding out about problems before they cause deck failure is the main reason to have an annual inspection performed.
How to Inspect Your Deck
The best way to perform an annual deck inspection is to have a qualified inspector come look at your deck. However, there are a few things you can look for on your own.
- Wood – Inspect several areas of the wood including substructure, railings, posts, and deck boards for soundness. Look for signs of insect damage, like sawdust and small holes, and check dampness in areas that are exposed to water. Soft and spongy wood often indicates wood decay.
- Flashing – If there is water collecting or you are missing flashing, add new flashing to make sure it is completely protecting the ledger board, the board that attaches the deck to the house.
- Fasteners – Pound in popped nails, tighten loose screws, and replace corroded or rusted fasteners.
- Railing – Give your railing a firm push to make sure it is firmly attached and doesn’t give way.
- Lighting – Check any electrical outlets, features, and appliances to make sure they are up to code and in good condition. Any electrical cords used on the deck should be in good condition and placed in such a way that they aren’t a tripping hazard.
Maintaining the safety of your deck is an important part of being a homeowner; an annual deck inspection makes sure that your deck is in good condition for another year of enjoyment. Taking a little time now gives you peace of mind as you enjoy your deck throughout the rest of the year.