How to prevent your deck from collapsing
Check out the surveillance video (above) showing a deck collapsing during a family Christmas party in New Albany, Indiana back in 2013.
More than 20 people fell 11 feet. There were multiple injuries. Fortunately, no one was killed.
Jeremy Wilt got the phone call from his wife who was on that deck with their daughter, Ainsley.
“I was looking for people that were dead,” Wilt told ABC 33/40 News. “Because I didn’t know. I didn’t know if there was anybody underneath the deck.”
“I feel very lucky because everything could have been a lot worse,” said 12-year-old Ainsley Wilt. “Someone could have been dead.”
Thousands of injuries tied to older decks
The North American Deck and Railing Association estimates thousands of injuries a year from deck, railing and stairway failures. The association cites older decks that aren’t maintained and that use nails instead of sturdier screws, bolts, and connectors.
The best prevention: Hire an inspector
The best prevention: Hiring a certified home or deck inspector to check your deck every three to five years.
“When you look at your friends and family, and you look at some of these decks that are eight, 10, 15 feet in the air, why shouldn’t you?” said Michael Beaudry, executive director of the North American Deck and Railing Association.
Derl Nelson is certified by the American Society of Home Inspectors. He showed us the key components to a safer deck.
Securing the deck to the house
At the top of the list: Securing the deck to the house with half-inch wide lag screws — not nails.
“Well, the nails are going to pull out,” Nelson said. “They’re just not built for this type of attachment. So it has to be screwed all the way in so it will not pull out.”
Nelson says the posts that support the deck need be secured to a concrete footer.
“When we talk footing, you don’t want that deck to sink down over time,” Nelson said.
Deck stairways and railings also need to be secure.
And the railing on the top of the deck needs to support a 200-pound lateral force.
Stain or seal your deck to protect it
Nelson says your wood deck needs to be stained or sealed every one to three years to make sure rain doesn’t rot the wood.
The bottom line: a deck is a very complicated structure. It won’t last forever. You need to have it inspected on a regular basis.
Finding an inspector
A deck inspection costs $100 to $ 200 dollars.