The City is urging homeowners to check the safety of any deck on your properties.

National statistics indicate that 90% of deck collapses are caused when the “ledger board,” the wood that connects the deck joists to the building wall, loosens and becomes detached.

This can happen when water gets behind the ledger board and rots it out, or when the hardware connecting the ledger board to the house is inadequate, improperly installed, or insufficiently tight.

Injuries can also occur when guard rails become weakened from wood rot or the connecting hardware becomes loose or corroded.

Ledger board is the wood that connects the deck joists to the building wallCheck the underside of your outdoor decks for:

  • wood rot
  • water penetration behind the ledger board between the deck and the building
  • indications that the ledger board has been attached with nails, instead of bolts, as required
  • signs that the attaching hardware has become loose or corroded.

The topside of the deck should also be examined for the stability of the guard rail and for any soft spots in the flooring.  If any issues are found, call a reputable contractor for repairs or an engineer for advice on next steps.

Inspection is particularly important if your deck is over 20 years old and built under earlier building codes.

Remember, installing or replacing decks requires permits from L&I.  Most decks are eligible for EZ Permits, which can be issued without submitting construction plans to L&I.  EZ Permits can be obtained at the Municipal Services Building Concourse, and from L&I’s Building (Construction) Division District Offices across the City.