Did you know that roughly 40% of all the decks in America are deemed safe? When you add in the fact there are an estimated 40 million decks that are over 20 years old and you quickly realize becoming a statistic is a real possibility for many homes.
Just like every aspect of your home needs to be solidly and correctly built, so does your deck. Even though decks appear to be simple and straightforward structures, you should consider them to be a rooms without walls or a roof. It’s an outdoor space that needs to be planted in strong foundations.
Deck collapses are major failures that have resulted in tragic stories. A deck failure is not just a full collapse, it’s also broken railings or torn steps. These smaller failures contribute to most of these injuries in the United States. Take note of these areas when inspecting your deck.
Deck collapses often happen during the summer more than any time of year. It’s natural to have heavier loads on your deck from your guest during summer. The late afternoon sun and pleasant weather make your deck the perfect place to enjoy a summer afternoon. The major deck collapses happen due improper ledger attachment (nails instead of bolts) and not because the deck boards or joists broke.
Although summer is when collapses are more prominent, the damage may have begun during the winter season when snow collects on a deck and begins adding loads it may not have been built for. On an improperly built deck that has fasteners made of corrosive metals, the snow can begin rusting these parts. Rust can lead to failure and soon, you’ll have joists or beams or posts showing signs of rapid decay. The loads will also begin pulling off ledger boards that were not installed with bolts, or joists that disregarded proper joist hangers or hurricane ties.
Avoid becoming a statistic. If you believe your deck can be susceptible to any of the common deck failures listed above, begin with a thorough inspection. We recommend reading through our various Deck Maintenance & Inspection articles to help you navigate through the confusing and unclear process of inspecting your deck.