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5 Defects that Make Porches and Decks a Home Inspection Hazard

Certified home inspector

Warm weather invites people to relax in a deck chair or a comfy old rocker. Unfortunately, some defects make a deck or front porch structure unsafe for walking, much less spending a relaxing few hours with a good book.

Here are 5 home inspection warning signs that outdoor living spaces need some TLC.

#1: Loose Floor or Deck Boards

Porches and decks sometimes suffer neglect. The siding might get a fresh coat of paint, but porch and deck floor boards can warp and rot. Damage underfoot can create a tripping hazard. Worse, it could weaken the integrity of the whole structure.

Investigate the boards you’ll walk on before you take a step. It could prevent an accident.

#2: Mold, Mildew and Moss

In the springtime, porches and decks can take a lot of wet weather abuse. Depending on the surface’s slope and exposure to sunlight, water can turn to mold, mildew or even moss. Handrails can also suffer a buildup of slippery mold and mildew. The organic material also indicates that rot is likely present or not far behind.

Buildup of organic material is slippery, so watch your step as well as your hand grip.

#3: Boring Insect Damage

Boring insects, such as carpenter bees and termites, can turn a front porch or back deck into a heap of Swiss cheese. Sometimes, the damage is obvious. Unfortunately, it’s sometimes hidden under the porch or deck. The more boring damage exists, the weaker the structure.

Look for obvious holes and evidence of tunneling before trusting the deck or porch’s ability to support your weight, especially on high decks.

Certified home inspector

Even a beautiful deck can have hidden damage underneath.

#4: Rusted or Damaged Fasteners

In a perfect world, the metal fasteners or screws used to build a deck or porch resist dampness and stay clean and sturdy for years. Unfortunately, nothing in life is truly perfect. Sometimes, a DIY builder skips outdoor-grade deck screws in favor of less expensive ones. And over time, even the best deck screws can eventually rust.

Look for evidence of rust around screw heads and other metal hardware, such as brackets and braces. Where there’s damage, there’s a weak spot in the construction.

#5: Rotted Posts

Deck and porch posts should be embedded in concrete or anchored to a concrete foundation with a gap underneath. If a deck or porch foundation post contacts the soil, it’s bound to eventually rot. One rotted post put the whole structure at risk of failure in time. Several rotted posts could mean that the structure is not safe to walk on.

Look for evidence of decay around the base of each post. Pay special attention to those that aren’t set in concrete or anchored in a metal bracket with a gap for ventilation and water runoff underneath.

Spring is here and summer isn’t far behind. Your customers surely look forward to using their new front porch and back deck as soon as they sign on the dotted line. As a certified home inspector, you can warn them about conditions that risk accidents and injuries, as well as defects that require repair.

If you haven’t yet signed up for ICA School home inspection training, what are you waiting for? Enroll now and start on your path to a new career today.

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