If you have a deck at your residence, it very well may be one of your most favorite spots at your home. The reality is that a deck degrades over time and can be in need of repair, rehab, or even replacement. There are eight signs that the time has come to replace your deck.
More recently built decks typically are constructed with concrete footings that keep posts two or three inches about the ground. This works to keep the posts dry.
Older decks were not constructed in this manner. Older decks usually have posts that are directly connected to the footings and to the ground.
As a result of this older design, wooden deck posts are exposed to and soak up water. Over time, this leads to rotting.
As a post rots, it loses its strength. As it loses its strength, a post becomes a significant safety hazard. When posts start to rot, the time has come to replace the deck.
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Loose railings represent another issue with a deck. Although a deck will not collapse because of loose railings (as is the case with rotting posts), they still present a major safety issue.
Many railings are secured by nails. They wear and become loose over time. Replacing them with fresh nails will resolve the problem for bit of time, but does not represent a permanent solution. The railing (and perhaps the entire deck) has reached a juncture at which replacement is necessary. When replacing deck rails, use carriage bolts with washers and nuts to fasten the railing.
Failing Ledger Boards
Another sign that the time has come to replace your deck is when ledger boards are no longer keeping your deck securely attached to your house. This is a significant hazard. The ledger boards literally hold up the side of the deck attached to the house. If this type of issue is noticed, immediate remediation (which probably means deck replacement) is necessary.
Weak Post Connections
As a matter of proper design, deck posts should be under the beam or rim joist. If posts are fastened elsewhere, like to the side of a beam or rim joist, too much weight is being placed on the fasteners connecting the posts to the deck. Over time, this will also prove to be a hazardous condition, one that can lead to the collapse of a deck.
Lack of Ledger Flashing
Another sign that something may be amiss with your deck is a lack of ledger flashing to keep water out. Ledger flashing is what prevents water getting in between the ledger (what attaches your deck to the house) and the house itself. If water gets into this space, leaks can occur, mold can grow, and rotting can occur.
Deck Boards that Wobble
A sign that the time has come to replace your deck is found in deck boards that wobble. This may actually give you a feeling that your deck is ready to collapse at any moment as this situation becomes more significant over time. That really is not the case. However, over time it will weaken other aspects of a deck, including the ledger that attaches a deck to a house. This issue is indicative that action must be taken in regard to a deck, including possibly replacing it.
Significant Structural Damage
No matter the underlying cause, if your deck has significant structural damage, the time for replacement very well may have arrived. This can include structural damage caused not only by some of the issues discussed a moment ago, but also by such things as weather and termites.
If there is obvious structural damage after a storm, you definitely want to have your deck inspected. If it needs to be replaced because of storm damage, filing a claim with your insurance company will aid in addressing the costs associated with replacement.
Your Deck No Longer Meets Regulations
State and local regulations pertaining to things like residential decks change over time. If your deck is older, it very well may be technically out of compliance with existing regulations.
Depending on where you live, an existing deck that technically becomes out of compliance may not need to have immediate remediation. Nonetheless, ordinance changes oftentimes are the result of safety considerations. Thus, although you may not be required to take immediate action because of a regulation issue, you may want to do so to optimize deck safety.
If you have questions about the safety of your deck, or whether it should be replaced, you are wise to seek a professional assessment. You are also wise to act on the recommendations from that assessment.