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How to Identify a Dangerous Balcony or Deck

Pembrook Nelson
August 17, 2015

Most homeowners know that an outdoor deck is a point of pride. However, it is important to be aware of potential danger signs so that you can fix them before they become problems. When decks are not properly maintained, the wood can fill with rot or the connection from the deck to the house can become weakened. Recently, there was a tragedy in Berkeley where a deck collapsed due to improper maintenance. Unfortunately, the collapse resulted in 6 deaths and 7 others that were seriously injured. Here are some signs of a dangerous deck that you can look out for. 

Check out loose connections. Are any railings loose or do they wobble? Do pieces of wood creak or give way when you walk on it? If so, these are signs of failing structure. Take a look for metal corrosion. Are there are any screws or joists for example that are rusting? If so, this is a sign of water damage, which usually causes the integrity of the deck to waver. Also, if you notice that there are only nails used in your deck, it means that your deck was made before codes were updated. Now, decks also need to have screws and increased connection through joists. If you only see nails, it may be a good idea to get your deck inspected for security. If you happen to have a concrete deck, there are also telltale signs to look out for. These include rust stain, cracks, salt stains or any other discoloration. These are signs that the metal helping to support the deck is rusting. If you see any of these signs, be sure to get your deck inspected before using it. 

One of the best ways to help the structural integrity of your deck is to keep it waterproofed. Even if you have already done it before, a deck needs to be re-sealed every few years. In order to see if it’s time for your deck to be re-coated, place a few drops of water onto the deck. If the water beads up and rolls off, it is still good. If the water is absorbed, it is time to get your deck waterproofed again. Maintaining this one small thing will help in keeping your deck safe.