5 things to check to make sure your deck is safe

Summertime is deck time.

A deck can be dangerous. If it collapses, the results can be tragic. That's why you want to inspect your deck every year.

Ricardo Arevalo with Simpson Strong-Tie says there are 5 things to do.

1. Check for loose railings and wobbly steps.

2. Look for missing connections: If you look under your deck and all you see are nails, then you’ll need to reinforce that deck. What you should be seeing are screws and bolts, and metal connectors.

3. Check for corrosion: Are the metal connectors rusting? White rust is okay. Red rust means the metal is being eaten away and needs to be replaced.

4. Look for cracks in the wood: Cracks that are unusually large can weaken the structural integrity.

5. Check for rot: You can use a nail or screw driver to probe areas that look suspect. If that nail or screw driver goes into the heart of the wood easily, then it's rotten and the wood must be replaced.

If you're not sure, have the deck inspected by a professional.

Building a new deck

A new home deck can be a wonderful addition to your house. Keep in mind: This is one construction project where you cannot cut corners. You need to find a qualified contractor who will use quality materials.

"Because you could have the most beautiful deck in the world and I could be completely unsafe,” Arevalo cautioned.

The ledger, the piece of wood that connects the deck to the house, is a critical component.

"That ledger connection is the number one failure for decks,” he said. “Typically, when you see a story on the news about a deck collapse, it's usually because that ledger pulled away from the home because it was installed with nails."

Your deck need to be attached to the house with screws because they cannot pull out easily. Unlike nails, screws bite into the wood.

Check your deck. If you see the board that connects the deck to the house is attached with nails you need to install screws.

More Information:
Build a Safe, Strong Deck
Deck Safety Checklist
Deck Safety Inspection