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3 On Your Side: Deck Safety Tips As The Summer Season Begins

jim-donovan-web Jim Donovan
Jim Donovan is a 13-time Emmy Award-winning consumer reporter w...
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By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The last thing that probably comes to mind when you think of a barbecue on your deck is third degree burns and concussions. But 3 On Your Side consumer reporter Jim Donovan finds that each year that’s exactly what happens to dozens of people when the deck floor below suddenly gives way.

One minute friends and family are enjoying a back yard cookout, the next, a deck comes crashing down and everything goes flying.

Each year dozens of people are injured and some killed when an unsafe decks fails.

“It’s just a matter of being aware.  It’s an outside structure, it’s in the elements, are people taking care of it, are they staining it, are they protecting their materials on their decks,”  said Michael Beaudry with North American Deck and Railing Association.

By one estimate, nearly 20 million decks nationwide need to be rebuilt or at least retrofitted to meet current codes.  The average wooden deck has a lifespan of 10 to 15 years.

“If you take care of it and you maintain it and you stain it, it can last a lifetime.  But if you don’t, it’s not going to stand up to the elements,” said Beaudry.

“You can see the deck in general is on its last legs and really needs to be totally redone,” said Mike Ebner with Back to Nature Decks.

Ebner has been building decks for over 25 years and says homeowners should inspect their decks annually.

He says it starts with the footers.  They should be above ground so you can see if it’s rotting or if there is any problem. Look for wood rot elsewhere too.

And be aware of improper connections to the house which can pose problems.

“The bolts should be staggered every 12 to 16 inches up and down,” said Ebner.

Loose connections are a hazard too.  Screws and connectors should be checked for rust and corrosion.

Improper spacing between railings and steps, also pose risks.

“They should be closer together. You can get your head stuck in there, or a kid could you know,” said Ebner.

Deck Evaluation Checklist

http://www.nadra.org/Deck_Evaluation_Form.pdf

Consumer Checklist

http://www.nadra.org/NADRA_DSM_Checklist.pdf

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