Deck safety is always a concern, but following the wake of Hurricane Sandy, eastern homeowners must pay extra attention to a potentially dangerous situation. Although the declared disaster zones were primarily along the coastal areas and damage to decks may be quite obvious, it is the deck structures on buildings further inland or that still appear intact that can pose the most risk…especially when considering the addition of wet, heavy snow on structures with questionable stability.
Immediately following a disaster of this magnitude, the response efforts first focus on emergency rescue, restoration of essential services, clean-up of debris and destruction that poses an obvious danger to people, then overall clean up and damage assessment.
Let’s talk a little about assessing the damage to your deck.
What to Do if Your Deck Shows Obvious Damage
Firstly, DO NOT walk on your deck if it shows signs of damage or instability. It is important that you obtain the services of a professional contractor or inspector in your area. Due to the number of people who will be seeking these services, you may have to wait awhile to have someone come out to your location, but it is worthwhile to ensure that your damaged deck is dealt with as safely as possible. One resource that many people turn to is NADRA, the North American Deck and Railing Association, and NADRA offers a lot of good resources including a directory of qualified contractors.
Second, if you are choosing the services of a contractor, even in desperate times it is worthwhile doing your homework. While most people really rally together after a disaster, there are always the unscrupulous few who will try to take advantage of a situation for personal gain. The Virginia Building and Code Officials Association has put out a great article entitled Consumer Guide to Selecting a Contractor – Be Careful of Crooks. If you are looking for a contractor who specialized in waterproof decks and flat roofs, contact one of our specially trained Duradek installers for a Free estimate on rebuilding and waterproofing your deck.
What to Do if Your Deck Appears Undamaged
Assessment of the structural wellness of your deck should not be overlooked. Even if it appears to be structurally sound, your deck’s stability may have been compromised and you should not assume it is safe before performing a thorough and proper assessment. Don’t put off inspecting your deck until spring when you will be using it more heavily again and be taken by surprise by a shaking structure. Or worse, think your deck is ok but find out in the spring that water damage has affected your building envelope and compromised the structural integrity of your home. Even if your deck looks alright after a major storm, it is a good idea to:
- Check for split wood or sagging surfaces.
- Check for secure posts and joists, ensuring there is no leaning and deck support is sound.
- Check that flashing and other water routers are secure and firmly in place.
- Check for loose or missing fasteners like missing screws or popped nails.
- Check stairs and railings to ensure stability.
- Check deck accessories such as lighting, fireplaces, and furniture to ensure there is no risk of fire or of items falling.
If there is any indication after inspection that the stability of your deck is questionable, be sure to consult with an inspector or a professional contractor like a specially trained Duradek installer before using it.
What to Do if Your Deck Escaped Undamaged
If your deck went through a hurricane and escaped without any damage, you should consider yourself very lucky! You had a great combination of a good contractor that built your deck and probably some very good luck.
Good luck to all of you dealing with the post-hurricane clean-up and rebuilding process. We hope that Duradek may be able to provide you with some of the material you need to bring your deck back to safe and protected use.