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7 Essential Deck Safety Tips

April showers may bring May flowers, but it’s also the perfect time to get amped for Deck Safety Month. While you’re prepping to celebrate the end of the school year and the coming of summer BBQs and outdoor parties, it’s important to make sure that your deck is properly maintained and completely safe for entertaining.

Here are some tips to help you keep tragedy from ruining your summer fun:

#1 – If you’re building a new deck, you must absolutely hire a licensed and experienced deck contractor. Unfortunately, many out-of-work Americans fancy themselves an adequate contractor, which can be very dangerous. Check for a valid contractor’s license, liability insurance, years of experience and solid references.

#2 – If you have an existing deck, especially if it’s more than 10 years old, hire a contractor, or, even better, an inspector to give you an evaluation of your deck’s condition and maximum capacity.

#3 – Check your deck for rotting wood, as this can lead to a collapse. Examine and test the integrity of the ledger board (the rail that connects the deck to your home), railings, support posts and joists. If you can easily penetrate the wood ¼ - ½” with a screwdriver or ice pick, you may have rot.

#4 – Inspect the flashing between the house and ledger board. It is designed to keep moisture from collecting there, which can cause damage to the deck as well as the house. If it’s not doing its job, you’ll want to hire a contractor to replace it.

#5 – If you want a grill, candles, chimney or fire pit on your deck, be sure to put down a non-flammable pad underneath to ensure the heat does not damage the deck or set it ablaze.

#6 – Have plenty of good lighting on your deck so that there are no accidents in the dark while entertaining, but be certain that the electrical cords are in good condition, out of the way and weather-protected.

#7 – Do a visual inspection of the landscape surrounding the deck. In particular, you want to make sure that nearby trees are in good condition and that none of them are in danger of falling over or dropping heavy limbs onto the deck. If you are uncertain, call a landscaper or tree trimmer to inspect and take action.

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