Homeowners build decks for their homes to extend their living space and to be able to enjoy the warm weather. While we want to provide more functionality to our home and a place where we can bond with our family and friends, our home decking can also bring us unfortunate events due to safety issues.
According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, 45 million homeowners in America have a deck installed in their residence. Unfortunately, about 60% of these have safety issues and need to be checked and repaired. As a smart homeowner, it is important to spend time inspecting the condition of your deck. Below is the deck safety checklist we have prepared for you:
Your deck railing plays a very important role in keeping your deck safe for your whole family and guests. It should be rigid enough to sustain the weight of many people that will potentially lean on it. A sturdy railing should be able to withstand a force of about 200 pounds. If the railing wobbles even a little when you grab onto it, then you may repair and reattach it more firmly.
As a homeowner, deck stair safety is one responsibility you shouldn’t overlook. Like the railings, your deck stairs should be sturdy and able to handle the weight of the people and should be firmly attached on the deck. Deck stairs also have railings that will serve as a guide and support to people as they climb up and down the deck.
Most of the decks built today are made of materials that are treated with protection against bugs and pests. However, older deck boards are more prone to insects and termites’ infiltration as they aren’t chemically treated; resulting in damage and rot formation. Not to mention the wear and tear that they are always subject to, which can cause cracks. According to the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC), 15% of all deck injuries are caused by collapsing decks. You will know if there is something wrong with your deck if it makes a strange sound as you walk into it. Or when discoloration forms on its boards. In these cases, it is best to have the rotten and cracked boards replaced to avoid accidents.
Flashing is another part of your deck that is often overlooked and is also one of the causes of decking accidents. A flash is a waterproof material that is connected to your home and prevents water from getting into the house as well as your deck. You can check the condition of your flashing by yourself by observing the flow of rainwater on it; the water should flow all the way to the ground without any intrusion.
Another part of the deck that should be included in your deck safety checklist are the fasteners and connectors. These are the items that keep your deck together. Make sure that they are attached tightly and are not rusting.
If your deck is connected to the house, then most likely it also has a ledger. The ledger is one of the frames that supports the joists at one end and provides strength to your deck. It is crucial that the nails or ledger screws are attached firmly and safely. It must have a ledger flashing too to keep the water out of the house and prevent the moisture from seeping into your decking materials.