Deck Safety | Best Rate
A well-built patio should be a fun and enjoyable part of your home; a place to have family barbecues, curl up with a good book on a cool morning, or watch the sun set in the evening. Unfortunately, while your deck feels solid under your feet, it may not be as safe as you think. Every year there are new stories of deck collapses, injuries and sometimes even death!
May is Deck Safety Month and we’d like to take the opportunity to help you make sure your deck is safe to use, especially as we approach the prime of BBQ season! According to the North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA), “an estimated 40 million residential and 10 million commercial decks in the United States…are more than 20-30 years old.” Not only are older decks at a much higher risk of collapse, but many of them were built before deck building regulations were in effect.
In support of Deck Safety Month, NADRA has put together a great 7-point checklist that you can use to quickly and efficiently assess the condition of your deck. You can view the full checklist HERE, but here’s a quick snapshot:
Test your kicks to make sure they support your weight without bending or swaying. Check that the handrails are tight and secure. Finally, remove any tripping hazards, such as toys or decorations, from the stairs. Are the bolts holding the handrails in place tight?
Are there any signs of the foot moving or leaning, the concrete cracking? Do the post support or bolts show signs of rust? Check the post and the joints with the beam. All these components carry the load of the deck and the people on it.
3) Beams and beams
Beams are large pieces of wood or several pieces are joined together to make one large beam. If you have multiple pieces, look closely to see if there are any signs of decay or dry root among them. Carrier hangers are there any signs of movement or rust? How are the bars connected to the ledger? Are there lateral charging connectors?
When a deck is attached to a house, you normally have a ledger. What is it attached to? Stucco, edge beams with typesetting, what does the typesetting look like? Is the flashing installed behind the exterior trim, shingle style?
5) Decking or the decking surface
This is the area we see the most, we walk on it, barbecue, toy boxes, potted plants. Do the ends of decking boards show cracks, is there wood rot under the pots? Does the deck surface need cleaning and resealing? Some decks have a waterproof deck coating when was the last time it was inspected and resurfaced?
6) Handrail constructions and shielding
Guards are required when the walking surface is more than 30” above the slope. Most guards in CA. should be 42″ high. Are the guard posts properly blocked between joints and does the hardware show signs of rust? Does the handrail feel sturdy when you put weight on it?
Check the wood around your deck, including the decking, railing, steps, joists, support posts, and especially the ledger (where the deck attaches to the house). Look for dry rot, termite damage, or wood that has simply worn down over the years.
Flashing is what protects your patio from moisture and dirt. Check if your flashing light still works. If you notice that your flashing is loose or that it does not keep out rain and moisture (making your deck vulnerable to wood rot), replace it.
Your deck is only as strong as the bolts and nails that hold it together. Check all fasteners. Tighten loose fasteners and hammer nails back into place that come out. If you notice broken or corroded fasteners, replace them.
Make sure your balustrades and banisters are secure. Push them gently. They should not move or swing.
Give your terrace a good cleaning to remove all the dirt. If the wood looks bleached or seems to be absorbing water, it may be time to re-stain your wood deck and apply a new waterproof coating.
Grilling and fire pits
Anything that produces flames can pose a danger to your patio and your family. Make sure to keep all flame-producing devices (such as lighters, matches and lighter fluid) out of the reach of children and away from flammable objects.
Provide adequate lighting on your patio so that someone can easily move around the patio and walk up and down the stairs. Check that all your lights are working and chords are not a tripping hazard.
Test all your garden furniture. Can your hammock support your body weight? Are your sun loungers still sturdy?
It may not be your deck that is the danger, but rather the heavy branches swinging overhead. Make sure that no large branches hang over your terrace. A bad storm or San Diego’s infamous El Nino winds can snap a branch through your deck.
This Seven-point check system shouldn’t take long to get through, and then you can get back to enjoying your card game in peace! If you do notice problems with your deck or if you don’t feel comfortable doing the check yourself, you can always call Best-Rate Repair. We are happy to send a decking expert to your property to perform a safety check or assess any damage you notice.
If you’re worried about your deck, it’s best to call an expert! You don’t want to risk the deck collapsing and injuring you or someone you love!
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