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Safe at Home: How Reliable is Your Deck?

May 27, 2015 02:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
Did you party out on your deck this past weekend? The weather was perfect for outdoor Memorial Day Weekend fun. And, of course, our waterside location is the land of many decks. We use them to the max for contemplative solitude or overcrowded revelry. The North American Deck and Railing Association (NADRA) want to make sure that whatever you do on your deck will be safe and secure, so they have come up with a safety checklist. Here are just some things to look for and inspect on or around your deck (for the full details and other helpful information, visit

Split or decaying wood. Check several different areas of the deck to be sure the wood is still sound. Pay special attention to any areas that tend to remain damp, are regularly exposed to water, or are in contact with fasteners.

Loose or corroded fasteners. This includes nails, screws, and anchors. If fastener appears rusted or corroded, consider replacing it. The deck or stairs should appear even without sagging and should not sway or move when tested.

Cleaning and maintenance. Always clean away any leaves and debris since these can be slippery and promote mildew. If mildew is present, clean thoroughly and apply a new waterproofing coating.

Grills, fire pits, chimneys, heaters, and candles. Make sure any source of fire or heat is safely placed away from flammable surfaces. Always use caution and follow manufacturers’ directions.

Lighting and electrical. Clean any light covers to allow maximum light to shine through, and trim any plants or tree limbs that may be blocking the light. Be sure all electrical outlets, appliances, and features are up to code.

Surrounding trees. Make sure all surrounding trees, especially those that might overhang the deck, are not decaying or in danger of breaking free and falling onto the deck—or its occupants.

--Sarah Hagerty
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