Deck Collapse Puts a Damper on any Outdoor Event

Every year there are stories of deck failures. Either there are too many people on the structure, it’s not built to code or it is just too old. The newest viral video spreading online is from a dock collapse in Minnesota that sent an entire bridal party into the lake below as they posed for pictures. Take a look here:

They may have needed some time to dry off before the big wedding celebration, but the bride and groom are lucky that no one was hurt when this dock gave way.

Deck (and dock) safety is a serious concern. People are injured each year as a result of deck footings giving way or the deck detaching from a home. In the case of the video above, it may have been a case of too many people on a small dock. Over the past few years, videos of deck failures at special events, like weddings or proms, have been released online. If you are hosting a graduation party, wedding or other special event at your home, make sure you evaluate the safety of your outdoor structures.

Your deck may feel safe normally, but can it withhold the weight of a large number of people? If your deck has ever shook or felt at all uneasy before, it’s important to have it inspected by a professional deck builder. A professional will be able to look at the structure and tell you the overall shape it is in, what, if anything, should be addressed now or if it should be replaced entirely.

There are certain parts of a deck that are key components of the overall safety of the space, while others can be easily replaced or enhanced in the short term.

The structure, footings, connections and attachment are all very important to the deck’s safety. If one of these fail, it could cause the deck to collapse.  Conversely, decking boards, stairs and rails can be updated or replaced until the entire structure is enhanced.

If you have concerns over the safety of your deck, please reach out to your local Archadeck office.

Deck Collapse is a Serious Risk

XX-030Temperatures are finally rising in many parts of the country and, if you are like me, you can’t wait to take advantage of it and spend some time outdoors. Before you do, however, make sure that your deck is safe to enjoy.

An Atlanta area deck collapsed earlier this week injuring four people. Two men were standing on the deck and two were below when the deck gave way and fell from the home and all four men were taken to the hospital with injuries. Unfortunately, stories like this are far too common.

The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced for safety reasons. During those 10 years not only will the foundation and structure weaken, but codes will change, often for safety purposes. At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we suggest that decks over 7 years old should undergo a deck safety inspection. You may need to have your deck inspected earlier if it is displaying any issues.

screened porchIf you aren’t sure on how to evaluate the overall condition of your structure, we recommend the acronym BE SAFER.

Boards. Look for sagging or splintering of decking boards that may make it unsafe to walk on.

Every Connection – This may be difficult to check if you cannot see underneath the structure, but try to look at the condition of the metal fasteners that hold the structure together.

Structure – While you are looking under the deck, look at the posts, beams and joists. Is there any sagging?

Attachment – The majority of deck failures happen at the attachment of the house. Make sure it is attached with the necessary bolts and screws, NO NAILS!

Foundation/Footings – This part of the deck’s structure holds the weight. Check to see that it is in good shape, without any sagging, sinking or separation.

Exit – Check the conditions of the exits/stairs of the deck.

Rails – Railings are very important to the safety of your deck. Make sure that each is secure and does not shake/move when pressure is applied.

This past winter has been a tough one for many parts of the country with above average snow and ice. This could have affected the safety of your deck, so please make sure to check it. For questions, concerns or to have a professional deck builder look at the structure for you, please contact Archadeck Outdoor Living.

Check your deck before having company

Despite the cooler weather, fall provides its own set of outdoor entertaining opportunities. From homecoming get-togethers and tailgating, there is always a reason to be outdoors in the fall. Before having friends and family outside on your deck this season, make sure to have it checked for any safety issues.

Last Saturday afternoon, eight people were injured when a deck collapsed in Winona, Minnesota. A group of students were celebrating homecoming at an apartment with a raised deck when the deck broke away from the home and fell. The number of people on the deck at the time is unclear, but eight people were treated for injuries.

One student that was in the lower apartment heard a crack went to see what was happening; “I was in shock watching it because you don’t expect a deck with people, I mean everyone’s having fun, it’s homecoming, everyone’s out here having a good time seeing each other and then you look outside and people are falling to the ground.” Source.

Deck failures are, unfortunately, a common cause of injury in the United States. The average deck lasts about 10 years before it needs to be replaced, but it could be unsafe before then. At Archadeck, we suggest that decks should have regular deck inspections after 7 years or if any issues are noticed. A homeowner may, for instance, notice some creaking while walking on the structure or warping of deck boards.

Trained deck safety inspectors will look at all parts of the outdoor structure before providing the homeowner with recommendations on next steps. In many instances, there are simple replacements or improvements that can be made to make the deck last a little longer. In other instances, the inspector may recommend taking down the existing structure and replacing it with a new one that is up to code and deemed safe.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living, we use the acronym BE SAFER to explain the deck components we inspect when we look at existing structures: boards, exits, structure, attachment, footings and foundation, every connection and railings.

Fall is the best time of year for a deck safety inspection. Heavy snow, ice and yard debris in the winter months can weaken the deck’s structural integrity even more if not inspected before the harsh weather hits. If you need to have a professional deck builder and inspector look at your outdoor space, please contact your local Archadeck office.

Deck Collapse Leads to Dozens of Injuries

Posted by: janegwalker

Whether you wanted to Heat or the Spurs to win, it surely was an exciting matchup, but unfortunately watching the game took a dangerous turn for many fans in Florida.

Local basketball fans gathered on the 13th of June at a North Bay Village, FL bar and grill to watch the NBA finals game. Nearly 100 people decided to enjoy the beautiful Florida weather and watch it outside on the restaurant’s large wooden deck. What they didn’t know is that the deck was unstable and would collapse, dropping patrons into the bay below. There were 24 reported injuries with two being serious.

Since the collapse, the city has been investigating what went wrong on this commercial property that was inspected back in January. The owners had to have their establishment inspected in the beginning of the year, but although the property’s building was signed off on, the deck wasn’t included in the inspection. County officials are looking into why. When the collapsed deck, which practically split in half, was looked at the day after, the structural issues were very clear. Most of the steel used to support the deck had corroded over time and couldn’t withstand the weight of the group.

It is unclear when the last time the deck itself was inspected.

One thing that is clear is that the load was way too much for the deck to hold. Its capacity according to local records is 74. With 26 extra people, it isn’t surprising that the deck failed. Now the restaurant owner is being sued by his patrons. They claim the owners had a duty to properly maintain the deck to ensure safety for those that go to the bar and grill.

deck collapseThis situation, unfortunately, is a common occurrence. Decks, like any structure need to be maintained and replaced over time. Their frame work will corrode and deteriorate through the years as it is exposed to harsh weather, and in this case, salt water.

At Archadeck Outdoor Living we suggest that any deck over 7 years be inspected by a professional deck builder. If a younger deck is showing signs of needing work, we urge homeowners to have it looked at. A deck safety inspection will look at all parts of the deck, (boards, connections, structure, attachment, foundation, stairs, railings, etc.) and will evaluate where they are in its life. A checklist is done and recommendations are made. We sometimes see that while parts of the deck may need to be repaired or replaced, not everything has to. For example, boards may need to be replaced, but the deck frame may be just fine. Make sure to ask your inspector when the deck needs to be inspected again and when you should be ready to replace the entire structure.

Commercial decks usually have to carry a heavier load and receive more wear and tear. If you are a commercial property owner who has a deck, you have to make sure that it is safe for your patrons. Having regular safety inspections and making sure to do timely repairs will give you the peace of mind that your structure won’t collapse.

If you are worried that your deck isn’t in the best shape, please contact your local Archadeck office and have them come to your property for a deck safety inspection.

Source information for this blog are the Miami Herald and WCF Courier.

Fourth of July on the Deck

Posted by: janegwalker

Whenever we are designing an outdoor living space for a client, we always ask how they intend to use the space. Many of our clients are sure to be using their deck, porch, patio, or other outdoor structure next week to celebrate the Fourth of July. If you are hosting friends and family for the holiday, here are some ideas that may help.

Family Dining Al FrescoMake sure there is enough seating. If you want to keep your party outdoors, you need to make sure there is enough seating to accommodate your guests. We often include built-in benches in our deck designs for those clients who entertain a lot. If you don’t have built in seating, most home improvement stores have outdoor chairs that aren’t too expensive or you can just bring some chairs out from around your kitchen table. As long as you remember to bring them in at the end of the night, you’ll be fine.

Think about the traffic flow. Your outdoor living space may be set up perfectly for its everyday use, but it may need some tweaking to accommodate the flow of traffic for your party. Make sure that your furniture allows for people to move around and go to different part of the space. Consider having the food scattered throughout the space so everyone isn’t always hovering in one area.

Make sure it is safe. If you have an older deck and you know that there is a good chance a lot of people will be on it at the same time, have it checked for safety. The last thing anyone wants in the middle of a Fourth of July celebration is a deck collapse. Call a professional deck builder and ask them to come out for a deck safety inspection. They will be able to tell you what needs immediate attention and what can wait. Trust us, the peace of mind of knowing your friends and family are safe is worth it.

Now that you know your outdoor space is ready for your party, let’s get to the fun stuff:

Make a festive drink. Who doesn’t love a little red, white and blue on the Fourth? Here’s a yummy and easy Sangria that screams Independence Day. Cut up strawberries and star fruit and place in a pitcher. Add blueberries and a bottle of white wine. Refrigerate for at least 12 hours and enjoy!

Get the grill going. If you aren’t in the mood for hamburgers and hotdogs but want something quick and delicious, flank steak is a great option. It doesn’t take a lot of cooking time and you can’t go wrong with this marinade: 1/2c dry red wine, 1/2c soy sauce, 1/4c olive oil, 4 garlic cloves (peeled and crushed), 1/4c parsley (chopped) and ½tsp black pepper (more if you like). Mix it all together and place in a container with the flank steak and refrigerate it overnight (or at least 10 hours). Your guests will love it.

Don’t forget dessert. If you or your guests are anything like me, dinner doesn’t feel complete without a little something sweet. Entertaining can be tiring, so make dessert simple. Last year, I was served a Fourth of July kebab for dessert that was delicious. Get some kebab skewers and skewer on some marshmallows, strawberries, blueberries, and brownie or devils food pieces. It’s yummy and patriotic!

From all of us at Archadeck Outdoor Living, have a happy and safe Independence Day!