Performing a Proper Deck Inspection
Warmer weather is right around the corner! In preparation for your days spent outdoors, make sure your deck is ready to go. Unfortunately, decks tend to give little to no warning before they sink or even collapse. To avoid any mishaps with your summer hot spot, be sure you do a proper deck inspection.
To find out what to look for when you begin your deck inspection, follow these tips from Inspect-It-1st!
Deck Inspection: What a Safe Deck Looks Like
When examining such a large structure, it’s helpful to start with the basics. By knowing what to look for in a solid, sound, and safe deck, it will be easier to spot potential problems on your own. All structurally sound decks should include:
- Proof that the deck meets city codes, and if applicable, has a valid building permit
- Solid base-footings that are below the frost-line
- A secure and level ledger that attaches the deck to the house
- A ledger is responsible for supporting about half of the deck’s weight!
- Adequate space between the boards
- Boards should be placed about one-eighth of an inch apart. By allowing a little room between each board, the wood can expand and contract with temperature changes without impacting the deck’s overall structure.
- Maintenance of a protective wood finish
- To effectively protect the wood, this should be assessed and reapplied about every two years or as needed.
Is Your Deck Safe?
Now that you know what to look for, you can begin inspecting your deck. If you notice any of the following problems with yours, it’s important that you address and resolve the issues immediately. Any problems you may find, no matter how minor they may appear, should be considered “red flags.” The integrity of a deck can become compromised by the smallest of issues, and needs to be fixed as soon as possible before further use of the area.
Examine the flooring, railings, stairs, and support posts. To test if the wood is rotted, you will need a tool or ice pick that you can insert into the wood. If the tool or pick can be inserted more than one-half of an inch, it’s a sign that the wood is not structurally sound. This can be from moisture, mildew, or not properly maintaining the finish on the wood. All rotted spots need to be removed and replaced. Follow this guide to learn how to safely replace the wood.
Decks can generally handle the wear and tear from rain and snow, but it’s important to make sure the moisture is being drained away from the structure. Flashing refers to a waterproof material that protects the wood from water that could seep into it. Make sure your flashing is installed properly, and test that it is still doing its job correctly. If too much moisture gets into the wood, your deck can begin to sink or even rot. Also, make sure any sprinklers or gutter drains are a safe distance away from the structure.
Especially on tall decks, it’s imperative that your railings are stable, and the appropriate height and width apart. Check each railing for stability by trying to wiggle it loose. If the railing moves significantly, it likely needs to be tightened or replaced. All railings should be at least three yards high and no more than four inches wide.
Since there are lots of pieces and parts to a deck, it’s a good idea to make sure whatever is securing them is still installed correctly. Screws and bolts can loosen over time and should be checked for security regularly. Examine the entirety of the deck and be sure connections are still tight. If you need to replace any hardware, be sure you do so with materials that are labeled for outdoor use only.
The Big Picture
After getting up close and personal with the deck, you should step as far away as possible from it to get a good view of the whole thing. By doing this, you can check for sagging, warping, and the overall levelness of the deck. If you see any parts that don’t look sturdy or are slanted, it’s best to take note of the issue and consult a professional for further assistance determining the problem.
Outdoor decks are great sources of entertainment and a fun spot to lounge or bond with family and friends. To ensure you get the most out of your deck this spring and summer, make sure you perform deck inspections regularly. If you’d rather leave the hard work to the professionals, contact Inspect-It-1st for an expert deck inspection. Find a location near you here to speak with a local inspector.