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Let’s face it. Summers are for the outdoors. From backyard bbq’s to porch parties, the deck can be the centerpiece of a home for this time of year. Unfortunately, many homeowners take it upon themselves to build their own decks with little or no construction experience. Other homeowners fail to inspect their decks for safety isues. For these reasons it is estimated that between 2002 and 2007 there were 350 injuries and 17 deaths solely due to deck failure.

There are two main reasons for deck failure: poor railing construction and poor connection to the house. If any of these five signs appear then it may be time to call in a professional: loose connections (for example, a wobbly railing), missing connections, corrosion, rot, or cracks.

According to Jim Bushart of the National Association of Certified of Home Inspectors:

My recommendation is that home owners perform an annual inspection of their deck to ensure that the deck ledger board is securely anchored (with bolts…not nails) to the floor joist of the house and that all fasteners are free from rust and deterioration. If you detect or suspect movement of the structure from its original construction, contact a qualified and competent contractor immediately.

If you are purchasing a new home, always have the home inspected by a qualified home inspector. Pay close attention to any comments made as to the condition of the deck and ensure that it is safe when you move in. By simply keeping a close eye on the integrity of the structure many accidents are preventable.

The North American Deck and Railing Association has a checklist of situations to look for. Remember, if you’re considering building a deck it’s better to hire a professional to build in the first place. With the size of modern decks, more people than ever can be subject to injury by deck failure.

So remember safety first this summer and have a great one!

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