Any homeowner fortunate enough to have a deck at their residence will tell you that this is their favorite place to spend their time. Nothing is better than spending time relaxing and socializing with friends in this outdoors space. A deck is both an enjoyment and entertainment venue for the whole year. Because your deck is located outside it is exposed to the elements and suffers a lot of wear and tear. A deck is an investment that creates additional outdoor living space, but it is also an investment that needs to be protected with regular maintenance and repairs when needed. Your deck just like the rest of your home does degrade eventually from usage, excessive weight and the elements.
It is not always easy to see the issues of your deck that may require deck repair or replacement services, until the damage worsens and becomes visible. For this reason, it is important to visually inspect your deck throughout the year and especially at the change of seasons. Inspections combined with regular maintenance is sure to keep everyone using the deck safe and healthy.
Just a quick look might not reveal the true condition of your deck. There are often subtle signs that are not very easy to spot indicating a need for repairs. To get a good idea of the true wear and tear on your deck you will need to do an in-depth inspection. Here is a list of common signs that could mean that your deck needs to be repaired. Be on the lookout for some of these.
A Sinking Deck With Unstable Footings
Every deck is built on a form of foundation. A failing foundation or other type of foundational issues are normally at the heart of a deck that appears to be sinking. Your deck has to carry a lot of weight as people and furniture can be very heavy especially during a gathering. The deck footing has to support the weight of the deck and what is on it making a solid structural foundation vitally important.
Even using concrete footings to support your deck can crack or break off and are not a long-term solution. In cold climates with a lot of frost and snow the freeze and thaw cycle can result in the concrete sinking into the soil. Huge temperature fluctuations can impact the stability and structure of concrete bases significantly. If you notice any of these signs it is time to call in your deck contractors to repair your deck footing and keep your deck stable and standing tall.
Loose and Wobbling Railings
A loose railing might not seem like anything dangerous until someone leans against it and it gives way or it falls off and hits someone. A loose railing can pose a serious safety hazard if left unattended. A deck that is raised from the ground or has children playing on it regularly needs firm railings for protection.
Regularly test the railings of your deck and make sure that they are fastened tightly to the deck without giving way or wobbling. Sometimes the loose rail is caused by rot, rust or damage and you might need to replace the railing instead of just fastening it. Keep your deck railings firm and secure.
Damaged, Cracked, Splintered, or Loose Deck Boards
Damaged or loose deck boards or planks is a tell-tale sign that it is time for some deck restoration work.
The wood used in traditional wooden decks will normally crack and splinter from exposure to the weather, consistent pressure and insect or termite damage. More so if your deck is a bit older as wood naturally cracks with age, but some deck planks show their age a lot quicker than others and crack excessively. It is relatively easy to replace a few damaged boards to make your deck safe again. If the floor gives way when you walk and it feels like you are walking on a sponge it normally means that the entire platform of the deck is brittle and not safe to walk on.
You will have to call a deck installation team to replace the platform of your deck. A soft and sagging deck is a clear sign, even if there is no indication of rot visible.
Boards that are not fastened properly can wobble when you walk on them. Wobbling boards does not normally mean that the deck is structurally unsound and will collapse. They do however pose a threat to other components of your deck as over time their movement could weaken them. A vital part is the ledger that attaches the deck to your home. A weakened ledger will need to be repaired or replaced immediately or you are in for a deck replacement.
You have the alternative of replacing your wooden deck with composite decking. This form of decking does not require staining or sealing and is a popular choice as an alternative to traditional wood decking. Composite decking on average lasts about 25 years, but it does have its own unique requirements and will also need some love and care. No matter what your deck is made from, the only way to keep those using your deck safe is to keep your deck safe through proper maintenance and care.
Missing or Rusty Nails and Metal Connectors
Nails, nuts and bolts are what is used to hold the structure of your deck together. If any are missing or weakened due to rust and erosion, it could indicate a big problem. The more the metal pieces that connect the different parts of your deck are rusted, the worse the condition of your deck is. Even the smallest signs of corrosion can quickly worsen as should be treated quickly. Screws that are loose and cannot be tightened and therefore do not bind the framework together anymore could indicate that the structure of the wood is weakening. Any fittings under your deck that are broken or rusty poses a safety hazard to all users of the deck.
Current Regulations and Your Deck
Current regulation requires that all decks older than 10 years have to be inspected according to current safety codes. If the deck fails the inspection it could be condemned and will have to be torn down. If you have an old deck or you recently purchased a home with an old wooden deck it might be better to just replace the deck than having to undergo the formal city inspection and be liable for the cost, repairs or be forced to tear the deck down. Even if the deck at your newly purchased home looks new it is best to do a visual inspection by a deck professional to ensure its structural integrity and safety.
It is best to contact a professional if you have any doubt about the safety of your deck to book an inspection. Also, if you require any repair services. Should it be time for a deck replacement as your old deck can no longer be repaired, you will find many local deck builders that can assist you with the entire process.