Decay and termites
- Will the deck support about 4 people on each square metre?
- Will the handrails and connections support 2 to 3 big blokes leaning on it every metre?
- If somebody trips and falls against the balusters, will they hold in place?
- If three prop forwards jumped up and down on the end of a joist, would it dislodge?
- What about 4 people per square metre dancing in sync to Tina Turner's "Saltbush City Limit"?
- These are the type of loads that the Building Regulations (BCA) requires decks be capable of supporting.
- Joints in particular at handrail connection; joist to bearer connection; bearer to support connection (posts or to house).
Critical Inspection Points (thumped with a 2 kilo mallet)
- Particularly older decks and those near the coast or adjacent/near to swimming pools and spas;
- Nails, screws, bolts, metal brackets etc. at connection points;
- Both the exposed to view part of the connection and the part embedded in the timber/steel/concrete if possible. Try and extract some connections to check condition.
Tools for inspection
- Bottom rail to post connections; balusters to rail connections; handrail to post connections (if they come loose with a good thump - not good enough);
- Joists to house and joist to deck bearer connections;
- Ledger to house connections (a couple of masonry anchors into B/V not suitable. If you can pry the ledger away with a pinch bar its not good enough. Ledgers should be positively fixed to the structural frame [bolts/coach screws etc.]);
- Bearers to supports;
- Posts to footings/supports.
- Your eyes - see it - decay, termites, corrosion (rust), straightness, gaps;
- Your feeling - touch and move it - looseness, deflection under force;
- Your ears - hear it - creaks, cracks, groans;
- Rubber mallet or hammer - thump it to see if it comes loose or dislodges;
- Probes - small ended standard screwdriver, stout non-retractable knife and a drill with small diameter (4-6 mm drill bit 150 mm long);
- Little mirror for seeing into otherwise hidden areas and corners.
If in doubt, secure the area (lock or barricade it odd) and get in an expert to assess and repair.