Your deck is an extension of your home. It’s the perfect spot for entertaining guests or even enjoying a moment of solitude on a warm summer day. The last thing you want to happen is for your deck to become a safety hazard. Before your first big barbecue of the season, check over your deck for potential hazards.
How Do I Know if My Deck is Safe or Not?
And how do I make my deck safe if I notice a problem? Let’s get started by taking a look at the most common safety issues with an aging wooden deck.
Problems With the Wood
Some problems with wood are easier to spot than others. Splintering, cracks and loose boards are easy to spot and you’re probably already aware of these problems. Other issues, like rot, are more difficult to spot. Look for areas that may appear darker, discolored or soft to the touch. Rotten wood will give away easily to pressure from a flathead screwdriver. Check for rot at the base of the deck as well. Advances in codes and technology play an important part in protecting your supports from rot. Pressure-treated wood was not rated safe for ground contact until fairly recently, so older decks should have metal brackets on footers. If your deck is in direct contact with the ground and was built before 2006, you may be more susceptible to rot.
Wood Damage From Insects
As if the sun, wind and rain don’t put your deck through enough stress, there are several pest insects you have to worry about. For starters, carpenter bees are notorious for destroying a wooden deck. Next, the Asian termite has become a problem in many areas of the country. They can completely destroy wood decks made from softwoods like pine and fir rapidly after infestation. And lastly, powder post beetles bore tiny holes into your hardwood decking that cause it to break apart and fall apart over time. If you’re concerned there may be an infestation of any of these, be sure to contact a local pest control company ASAP before the damage spreads.
Damaged and Unsafe Deck Railings
With years of use and damage from elements, wood expands in heat and contracts in the cold, allowing screws to loosen their grip. This can be a problem on your railings, creating a big fall hazard. Take a walk around the entire deck and give the railings a good jerk- without putting your weight into the railing. This will give you a good idea of any problem areas that may need some repairs. If the deck is more than 30 inches off the ground with no railings at all, this is a safety issue which needs to be repaired immediately.
Identifying Damage to Your Deck Stairs
Loose boards, warping, wobbling and rot are all concerns when it comes to stairs. Just like with railings, the boards expand and contract, loosening the screws. Unstable stairs are an obvious hazard, but can also cause people to place more weight on railings, which can cause it to loosen prematurely.
Deck Safety Lighting
As you might imagine, most deck accidents occur at night. That’s why you need to turn on your deck lights this season and regularly check the batteries if they have a backup system for when the power’s out. Don’t forget to check your deck lighting needs servicing. All decks and porches should have a minimum of two working lights, spaced every 25 feet around the perimeter of a deck or porch. And each light fixture should be equipped with a bulb that illuminates at least 300 square feet when measured in any direction.
Exceeding Maximum Load Capacity
Planning to throw a big deck party? Keep in mind that there is a safety limit on how many people your deck will support. The stress imposed by the weight of people crowded onto a deck or porch can exceed its load capacity and cause it to collapse. If you’re not sure about the load capacity of your deck, check with a contractor.
Slippery Deck Stairs
Additionally with your deck stairs, they may become slippery in rain or icy conditions. Trust the world’s first all-weather step treads from Traxion to keep you safe in any condition. Our premium treads composed of durable polypropylene feature an aggressive non-slip texture and structural ribs and gussets for strength and durability. Visit our website to order today or contact us with any questions!