1.Check the Quality of the Boards
To start, inspect your decking. For the most part, appearance shows the quality and strength of your decking boards. Begin by looking for deep and long running cracks, splinters, or discoloration. Bowed and curling boards present another red flag. In addition to the safety hazard, the bending compromises their durability. Mildew also creates a problem weakening wood decking. Next, take a quick peak at the underside of the boards to scan for mildew or algae growth that signifies moisture damage.
2. Inspect the Ledger Board
For those of you unfamiliar with deck anatomy, the ledger board attaches a deck to the exterior of your house. This board should be bolted on with appropriately sized bolts that include washers. Therefore, nails are not an appropriate form of attachment for your ledger. Make sure the bolts are staggered along the board, as opposed to running a straight configuration.
Also, find out if you have flashing between the ledger and your wall. Flashing serves as a protective barrier that keeps your house from suffering water damage. Confirm you have flashing installed between the deck and the house.
3. Hardware Check
Joists create the skeleton your decking is laid across. Hence, they require secure and safe attachment to the ledger board. All joists require joist hangers. Joist hangers are specially designed hardware that safely and securely attach the joists to the ledger. First, confirm your joists were hung with joist hangers on both ends. Next, inspect the metal for rust. Replacing rusted joist hangers with new ones is an affordable and easy deck safety upgrade.
4. Post Inspection
Since all decks stand on posts, they are an important structural aspect to check. A quick inspection includes checking the base of the posts for softness and decay. First, look for visible decaying factors. Next, push your finger against the wood where the post meets the ground to see if the post suffers from rot. If the wood surface is soft and caves in, the post may need replacement. Water may cause damage and as a result weakens the safety of your deck.
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