May 10, 2016

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After The Floods Are Gone: Three Steps To Make Sure Your Deck Is Safe

Queensland weather can get wet and wild at times, and it is not unusual for the region to experience some flooding. In fact, when looking at the top 10 deadliest floods in Australian history, Queensland holds the dubious honour of taking five of these spots. As a new resident to Queensland, it is important you know how to properly inspect your home after flood waters have receded. After you’ve checked for damage inside, your next inspection point should be your deck. If this has been damaged, it has the potential to come crashing down, and that would not be good news if someone is standing on it. There are three specific things you can do to see if your deck has been adversely affected by flood waters.

Check The Deck Footing

The first place to look after the flood waters have receded is under the deck. In particular, you want to make sure that no damage has been done to the deck footings, as damage to these makes the deck a very dangerous thing to stand on. Deck footings are the posts that run vertically down from the base of the deck. They are embedded in a concrete base using a metal bracket. In particular, you are looking for two distinct issues:

  1. Whether the soil around the concrete footing has been washed away by the water running under your deck to the point the base of the concrete is now partially or fully exposed. If this has occurred, the footing is now unstable because it does not have a solid base beneath it.
  2. Whether the timber post that runs down to the concrete footing has been damaged from the weight of the water pushing past it. If it looks bent or cracked, then it could give away the minute a strong load bearing is put on it. Just one person standing on the deck could be enough to make the timber post fail and collapse.

If you have concerns about the safety of your deck footings, you must contact your deck builder and get them to come make repairs before you allow anyone to walk on the deck.

Check For Missing Pieces

Once you have checked the underneath of your deck, it is time to check the topside to see if the force of the flood water has washed any important pieces away. Flash foods are a rapid rise of water in a short period of time. These flood waters move quickly and carry a force that can tear away already weakened parts of your deck.

Look for missing steps, deck boards and railings. Additionally, walk around the deck and check the integrity of the remaining safety rails by seeing if they wobble under pressure. You can test this by giving them a push then pull test. Any movement means they need fixing before you allow the family back out onto the deck.

Check Again In Two Weeks

The final step in making sure your deck has successfully survived a flood is to inspect the deck again in two weeks time when it has had time to dry out. You are looking for any signs that moisture has penetrated into wood that was already damaged before the flood arrived.

When moisture can penetrate into the core of wood through cracks, then rot can begin. When fungus begins to grow inside the wood, it reduces the interior to a soft pulp so it has no structural integrity. You can visually see wood rot just by looking for soft or brittle pieces. If you push down on a piece and it is soft beneath your fingers, it needs to be repaired or replaced.

At the first sign of deck damage after a flood, give your deck builders a call so they can make sure deck safety is never compromised. By doing this inspection and organising any necessary repairs, you can be confident your deck will be ready for its entertainment duties when the warm weather returns.

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