When summer weather finally arrives here in New Hampshire, relaxing on an outdoor deck can be a great way to spend time with friends and family. However, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors estimates that only 40 percent of the 45 million decks in North America are safe. Wondering how to inspect your deck to ensure that it’s safe? Use the following six steps as a guide:
- Inspections should begin at the bottom of your deck. If a deck seems unsafe or is sagging in any location, do not walk on it.
- Inspect the connection between your deck and the building to ensure that it is secure.
- Ensure that railings on the deck and stairways are properly supported and stable.
- Check for water sources near your deck that could contribute to accelerated wood decay, including but not limited to:
- Lawn sprinklers that regularly come into contact with your deck.
- Indentations around your deck’s support beams where water may pool, especially in newly installed decks.
- Downspouts from gutter systems that exit near your deck.
- Narrow gaps in the deck’s floor boards that don’t allow water to pass through.
- Make sure that none of the deck’s wood has decayed. Remember that layers of paint can hide decay.
- Visually inspect the beams below your deck for signs of sagging.
If you have any concerns about the safety of your deck, refrain from using it and contact a home inspector to perform a complete inspection. Using your deck should be a relaxing experience, and following these tips every summer will help ensure that everyone using it will have a safe and enjoyable time.