Some experienced building inspectors say that about 75% to 80% of the backyard decks they inspect have safety issues that could lead to sudden deck collapses. One moment you could be standing on your deck enjoying the next, and the next moment, the deck could shear off the house and you could descend into chaos and debris.
Safety issues to look for include:
- The use of nails instead of bolts and screws in building the deck and attaching it to the home. Nails are smooth and can pull out of the home and structural timbers easily. Bolts and screws are threaded and more securely anchored. The use of nails instead of bolts and screws in a deck represents one of the leading causes of sudden deck collapse.
- Rotting or splintering wood. Soft wood or large cracks in the timbers indicate weaknesses that could result in a sudden deck collapse.
- Weak deck railings. Each year, numerous people suffer injuries because weak or poorly attached deck, balcony, or porch railings suddenly gave way beneath them and they fell.
Check your backyard deck at least once per year for safety issues. Look underneath for signs of wood rot and splintering. Check to make sure that the deck is attached to the home with bolts and screws rather than nails. Check any deck rails for strength and safety.
Get a qualified inspector to check your deck for safety. And don’t try and make any needed repairs yourself. A large proportion of those injured in deck collapses each year receive their injuries because the structure collapsed while they were trying to repair it. Get a licensed contractor with solid experience constructing and repairing decks to do the work for you.
Backyard deck collapses can cause severe or fatal injuries. It’s not worth the risk. Get qualified professionals to inspect and repair your deck. Learn more about the causes of deck collapses and how to prevent them in our free book. It’s available for download from this web page for your convenience.