An outside deck or balcony should be a place to enjoy the outdoors while you socialize or dine. Unfortunately, each year hundreds of people suffer injury or even die because the deck they stood on suddenly gave way.
Many deck collapses do not have to happen. Sometimes contractors use defective parts when building a deck. The Seattle Times describes some possible causes of a deck or balcony breakdown.
A weak connection
Some decks are freestanding, meaning they have their own support structure. Conversely, an attached deck has a connection to a larger structure such as a house. This connection often takes the form of a ledger board.
Ledger boards need to be strong since they often bear the weight of half the deck. In fact, a ledger board is often the weakest part of the deck. Therefore, an inadequate or damaged ledger board could break and cause a deck to collapse.
The deck suffers from rot
Even if contractors use treated lumber to build a deck, the wood can still rot. In fact, termites can eat treated wood. Additionally, some manufacturers fail to treat their lumber appropriately, which can cause a deck to degrade much faster.
Rot in metal connectors
The metal pieces that hold a deck together may also experience rot. Fasteners with thin zinc coating can suffer corrosion. Rain may extract copper from treated wood and create a copper-mixed liquid that rots iron and steel parts in the deck. In addition, a deck exposed to seawater could degrade even faster from the salt content in the water.
It is important for property owners and contractors to take these factors into consideration when building a deck. Sound building practices and consistent maintenance could prevent a needless catastrophe.