As the weather warms up, relaxing on an outdoor deck can be a great way to spend time with friends and family. However, the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors estimates that only 40 percent of the 45 million decks in North America are safe. Use these tips to inspect your deck and keep your friends and family safe.

  • Inspections should begin at the bottom of your deck. If a deck seems unsafe or is sagging in any location, do not walk on the deck.
  • Inspect the connection between your deck and the building to ensure that it is secure.
  • Ensure that railings on the deck and stairways are properly supported and stable.
  • Check for water sources near your deck that could contribute to accelerated wood decay. These can include the following:
    • Lawn sprinklers that regularly come into contact with your deck.
    • Indentations around your deck’s support beams where water may pool, especially in newly installed decks.
    • Downspouts from gutter systems that exit near your deck.
    • Narrow gaps in the deck’s floor boards that don’t allow water to pass through.
  • Make sure that none of the deck’s wood has decayed. Keep in mind that layers of paint can hide decay.
  • Visually inspect the beams below your deck for signs of sagging.

If you have any concerns about the safety of your deck, refrain from using it and contact a home inspector to perform a complete inspection. Using your deck should be a relaxing experience, and following these tips will help ensure that everyone using it will have a safe and enjoyable time.