Almost every new home built today includes an elevated porch or deck. Great for seasonal socializing, right? However, before you put another shrimp on the barbie, take some time to ensure that your outdoor hang-out is safe and structurally sound. The importance of inspecting new and existing decks cannot be underestimated. Deck failure can happen, and you can imagine the consequences of that preventable tragedy. Age, exposure, and inferior wood products can all lead to problems. If you’re thinking “I’m in the clear, my deck is made of composite material”, the substructure is still made of wood. Here are issues that your inspector will look for when a home inspection takes place:
- Split or rotting wood
- Loose or missing nails, screws, or anchors
- Missing, damaged, or loose support beams and planking
- Wobbly handrails or guardrails
- Lack of ledger board flashing or improper ledger board installation
Good preventive practices for wooden decks are pressure washing on a regular basis and keeping a good sealant on it. It is also important to conduct a deck inspection annually, on your own if you’re familiar with the structure and know what to look for, or with a professional home inspector. If you conduct repairs in a timely manner, often it is just the top deck that needs to be replaced because the substructure beneath faces less wear and tear. However, if you neglect to maintain your deck on a regular basis that is when the framing can begin to rot and you’re on your way to a dangerous situation.