Every year we hear about decks collapsing and injuring, or even killing several people. The Consumer Product Safety Commission says thousands of people are hurt on decks every year. The problem, according to The North American Deck and Railing Association, is that there are 40 million decks that are at least 20 years old and don't comply with current building codes.
Tom Booker builds decks. He's has seen almost every kind of deck construction there is, and he tells people that the way to avoid a disaster is to make sure the deck is properly secured with nuts and bolts, not nails.
"Most deck collapses," Booker says, "The deck collapses because it detaches from the house at the ledger, so it is the most critical connection of the entire deck. If it moves, if it shakes, if it feels soft, you really need to get a professional in to take a look at it because that's signs of larger issues."
Angie's List recommends an inspection by a deck builder rather than a deck maintenance company in order to make sure you're addressing structural issues and not just cosmetic concerns. It will run you anywhere from $50 to $200.
You can also find a thorough deck safety checklist on The Deck and Railing Association web site, www.nadra.org