Is your deck, balcony or patio ready to party this upcoming Labor Day? According to the Home Safety Council, 83 percent of all American homes have some sort of outdoor living space such as deck, porch, patio or balcony. But an estimated 20 million decks nationwide may be in danger of collapse.
In the last 15 years, more than 900 people have been injured, and at least 20 people killed by deck disasters in the United States, the nonprofit council reports.
Here are five signs that your deck may need attention:
1. Missing connections: Most decks are designed to last 10 to 15 years, and nails alone won't hold them up forever. Check the metal supports and connections to ensure they're strong and in place, especially along the ledger — where the deck connects to the house.
2. Loose connections: Are the railings wobbly? Any stairs loose? They should be repaired immediately.
3. Rust: Metal hardware such as connectors, nails and screws may corrode over time. Look for rust spots and replace corroded hardware.
4. Rot: Soft wood — a sign of rot — won't hold under stress. If you can push a screwdriver into a board, replace the board.
5. Cracks: Wood often cracks over time and weakens the structure. Deck boards or posts that develop large cracks should be replaced.