In this week’s episode, we are going to look at decks. Solid, well-constructed decks are perfect for entertaining guests, grilling, and simply enjoying nice weather. Because of the safety issues inherent in decks, they always need to be inspected with care.
In architecture, a deck is a flat surface capable of supporting weight, similar to a floor, but typically constructed outdoors, often elevated from the ground, and usually connected to a building.
If the deck looks good from underneath, the next step is to walk the deck and stairs. When we get to walking the deck. We?ll again start by assessing the overall condition of the decking material and the connections. We’ll be inspecting decking length and stagger in particular. We want to see the deck planks staggered so that butt joints don’t land on the same joist side by side. We’ll also want to see appropriate plank spacing to ensure that water can’t pool. Additionally, we’ll check for nails and screws that have begun to pull out or were not completely screwed in. This is usually an easy fix, but an important one; otherwise, barefooted deckgoers run the risk of catching one of these with their bare feet. Ouch!
About 90% of deck collapses occurred as a result of the separation of the house and the deck ledger board, allowing the deck to swing away from the house. It is very rare for deck floor joists to break mid-span. InterNACHI
Deck stairs are also an important part of the inspection. We always examine the construction of the stairs to make sure the stringers are of appropriate construction and spacing. Believe it or not, we have seen deck stairs constructed in such a way that the individual steps are all at different heights. Have you ever tried to walk uneven stairs? They are a serious trip hazard. We?ll look for lighting on the deck stairways as well. A good majority of the decks we see don?t have complete lighting, which can also present a trip hazard.
The handrail on deck stairs is another important aspect of our inspection. The purpose of having a solid handrail is to give a user something to reach for and hang on to in the event of a sudden trip or stumble, which is why we always want to see handrails that can be easily grasped. We unfortunately see many instances where the stair handrail is made of a 2?x6? or a similar small, ungraspable size.
Of course we can’t forget about the electrical outlets. Having electrical access on a deck is almost a must-have these days. Going back almost 10 years, the National Electric Code started requiring electrical outlets on decks 20 square feet or bigger. We’ll inspect the electrical outlets for proper installation and weatherproofing.
That does it for Episode 3. Today we presented a high-level, general overview of what we inspect when it comes to decks. As always, there is no substitute for well-trained, professional inspector actually being on site and seeing the deck firsthand. We’re always here if you need us.
Thank you for your support, and stay tuned for our next episode!