The winter is a wonderful time to get together with family and friends. Many enjoy spending time on their decks in the winter, and it should be a place to gather, not get hurt. Unfortunately, the cold, icy weather can make for slippery decking, and too much weight can cause decks to collapse altogether.
If guests are hurt on your property, you might be liable for their injuries. When someone comes to your home, you owe them reasonable care, meaning that you have to make sure there is nothing obvious that can cause injury. If you’re wondering how to avoid deck damage and collapse this winter, check out the common causes of deck related injuries and how to keep your guests safe.
Common Causes of Deck Collapse and Injury
1. Too Much Weight on Your Deck
A deck is only designed to hold so much and how people commonly decorate their decks can add a lot of additional weight. For example, cast iron, stone, and steel outdoor furniture can be very heavy. You should also consider the added weight of large umbrella stands, BBQ grills, coolers, and big potted plants as well. It’s a good idea to remove heavy furniture and decorations before the snow falls and adds more weight to your deck.
A properly built deck will be able to handle more weight. Remember, if too much weight causes your deck to collapse, you may be found negligent if anyone gets injured. If you are considering building a new deck, wintertime is the perfect time to starting measuring, finding materials, and making sure your have your permits in order to built come spring.
2. Failing Deck Supports and Railings
Weak or damaged supports can cause a deck collapse. To maintain structural integrity, make sure the supports are in good condition, are properly in place, and don’t have rust on their metal connectors. It’s also a good idea to check the concrete around your supports to see if it is cracked or flaking. Openings in the concrete allow water to get inside, which then freezes in cold temperatures, making the cracks larger. Seasonal changes can cause stress in concrete or metal over time. To keep your guests safe, make sure your deck can support them.
Loose railings can also cause your guests to get injured, as weak railings can give way and allow people to fall. To ensure your railings are in top shape, make sure that they do not wobble or give when pressure is applied. If your railings are unsteady, they need to be replaced as soon as possible.
3. Rotten, Rusted, or Decaying Deck Material
It’s important to check your deck for rot or weak spots, especially if it is made from wood. Humidity and moisture can cause wood to rot fairly quickly if not regularly inspected and maintained. To check your deck, carefully probe areas with something sharp, like a screwdriver, putty knife, or nail. If the metal easily sinks into the wood with little pressure and resistance, that means it’s rotten and needs to be replaced. If you would like to consult with an expert about what types of treated wood are best for your climate to prevent rot, contact us
4. Snow Buildup on Deck
It’s important to keep your deck clear of snow to keep guests from falling on a slippery deck, but don’t overdo it. Regular shoveling will leave your deck with gouges and a repair bill come spring. In fact, you should try to keep the shoveling to a minimum.
The best way to shovel snow is to ditch the shovel altogether. A metal tipped shovel is probably the worst tool to use to clean your wood or composite deck, as it leaves behind nicks and gouges in the material. Instead, try using a corn broom to push snow off your deck. You should sweep your deck before the snow melt and refreeze, otherwise it will be very difficult to remove. If you have to use a shovel, the best way to shovel is to follow the direction of the deck boards.
By following these tips, you can help keep your guests safe and avoid deck liabilities this winter. Sometimes old man winter doesn’t play fair, and your deck many end up damaged or unsafe. If you are looking for repairs to help keep your deck in top shape and avoid deck collapse and liability, contact a professional. We can help install a new deck or provide a consultation to help you improve your current one. Contact us today!