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Check your deck


Your deck or balcony is the place for barbecues, get-togethers with family and friends and just sitting in the sunshine. But unbeknownst to you, your deck may be sick – and that could lead to a loved one’s injury or even death. We look at the most common causes of sick decks and what can be done to cure them.

Deck Disease: Deckus Disconnectus

Fix It Renovations ezine Nov2013
Photo: NZ Herald

The owners of this house in West Auckland say it was lucky no one was killed when a deck collapsed, sending about 20 people and a hot barbecue crashing to the ground. "I was on the deck ... We were pretty much just having a barbecue and the deck just gave way," said the owner, who happened to be a builder. As you can see from the photo, the cause of the collapse was not a structural weakness in the supporting posts but in the way the deck was fixed to the house. This is one of the most common deck diseases, which is why it’s covered by new rules in the building code, so check that your deck is up to code and no rot or other structural defects have set in.

Deck Disease: Deckus Felloffus

Fix It Renovations ezine Nov2013

Photo: Fairfax

Here we see a similar problem to the first – except in this case, the deck has not only given way at the house, but completely fallen off the supporting posts. Nine people had to be flown to hospital, one with serious spinal injuries and another with broken bones, after this collapse in the seaside resort of Omaha Beach.

Deck Disease: Deckus Caveinonus

Fix It Renovations ezine Nov2013

Three people were rushed to hospital and more than 20 hurt in Cherryville, North Carolina, when the beam supporting the middle of this deck snapped in two. In this case, the deck was not up to code as there was too great a gap between the beam supports.

Deck Disease: Deckus Polesnapus

Fix It Renovations ezine Nov2013
Photo: WCCO

There’s clearly nothing wrong with the way this deck was fixed to this house in Forest Lake, Minnesota – it’s still hanging on even though the posts which also supported the deck have snapped in half. A man broke both of his ankles Saturday after a deck collapsed under 27 people who were posing for a family photo. Again, the support structure was not up to code nor up to the task of supporting that many people.


Deck Disease: Deckus Weddingcrashus

Fix It Renovations ezine Nov2013

The looks on these people’s faces says it all –horror as they realise that the deck is giving way under them. Luckily, no one was seriously hurt in this collapse.


Deck Disease: Railus Nomoreus

Fix It Renovations ezine Nov2013
Photo: Daily Mail

This is really horrible. A man and woman on their first date were standing out on her balcony when the iron railing broke, sending the 35-year-old woman plunging 17 floors to her death.  

Our message in this article is simple. Check your deck…

  • Check the posts and bracing under the deck for splits, rot, swelling or movement
  • Check that there’s no rot or other weakness in the fixing between the deck and the house
  • Check for rust or bends in bolts
  • Check that the railings and balustrades are secure
  • Check for rot or splits in your decking timber or other material
  • Check for signs of swelling or moisture in any solid structures
  • Check that your deck or balcony meets the latest code

Better still, get your local Fix It Building Services builder to come out and check your deck. 


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