You may be wondering if your deck needs to be inspected. The short answer is that yes, your deck probably needs to be inspected. There are at least two very important reasons to have a deck inspection performed and both have to do with safety. A Wyoming home and deck inspector will be able to evaluate the construction and condition of your deck so that you can be sure it is safe for your family and friends.

Photo: Deck joist
These deck joists showed signs of water damage and rot.

Why a Deck Inspection?

The first reason to have your deck inspected is to be sure that it was properly built and that it is properly secured to the house. It is estimated that the majority of decks in the U.S. are not fully safe. In many of these cases, the decks were not built properly in the first place. Improper supports, joists, railings (guards), stairs, and attachments to the house are all common defects for decks.

The second reason to have your deck inspected is to be sure that it is still safe and that its condition has not deteriorated over time. Assuming your deck was built to be secure and safe initially, its condition may well have deteriorated or weakened over time. Snow load, water from melting snow and rain, wind, and the summer sun all take a toll on any outdoor building materials here in Wyoming.

Photo: Deck joists with water damage and improper attachment to the house
These deck joists showed signs of water damage, and the deck ledger board was not properly attached to the house.

Fast Facts About Decks

  • More decks collapse during the summer than during the rest of the year. This may be due to decks being used more frequently during the summer months.
  • Almost every deck collapse occurs while the decks were either occupied or under a heavy snow load. A deck that is weak may seem to performing adequately, but adding hundreds of pounds to the deck, whether from heavy snow or people, may be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back.
  • There is no correlation between deck failure and whether the deck was built with or without a building permit. A permitted deck may still not be built or maintained properly, while an un-permitted deck may be built and maintained very well.
  • There is no correlation between deck failure and whether the deck was built by a homeowner or a professional contractor. Professional may cut corners or make mistakes just like a DIY homeowner.
  • There is a slight correlation between deck failure and the age of the deck. Unsurprisingly, as decks age and are exposed to the elements over a period of years the condition may deteriorate.
  • About 90% of deck collapses occurred as a result of the separation of the house and the deck ledger board, allowing the deck to swing away from the house. It is very rare for deck floor joists to break mid-span. Many decks are not properly attached to the house.
  • Many more injuries are the result of rail failure, rather than complete deck collapse. Deck rails should be able to support the weight of an adult leaning against the rail, but many decks are built inadequately or have deteriorated over the years and are in a weakened condition.
  • Deck stairs are notorious for lacking graspable handrails. A safe, graspable handrail is essential as you, your family, and your guests move up and down deck stairs.
  • Many do-it-yourself homeowners, and even contractors, don’t believe that rail infill spacing codes apply to decks. Proper rain infills or balusters are essential for safety, particularly if children will ever be present on the deck.

Is Your Deck Safe?

Was your deck built to be safe and, if so, is it still safe today? A Wyoming home and deck inspector will be able to answer these questions for you. In the best case, your deck may be in good and safe condition and you will enjoy peace of mind after your deck inspection. In the worst case, your deck may have been built poorly or may have deteriorated over the years and be in need of repairs. In this case, at least you know what is required to make the deck safe once again and can improve the condition of the deck before there is a problem.

Thank you for considering Frontier Inspections, LLC for your home and deck inspection needs. You can schedule a deck inspection by calling 307-670-3706 or by emailing frontierinspectionsllc@gmail.com.