Five Safety Tips to Help Prevent Deck Collapse

May 7, 2009
OPA 099/09

News Highlights  

  • Follow five simple tips to help prevent a deck collapse.
  • Tips and information can be found online.
  • A county permit and inspections are required anytime homeowners make structural repairs or changes to their decks.

More Information 

Because people are hurt every year by decks that collapse, Fairfax County’s top building official asks residents to check the safety of their decks every spring. Homeowners should check their decks before using them in the spring and summer, and there are five, easy tips to follow.

Decks don’t last forever, so it’s important to check your deck regularly, especially if it’s older,” said Ray Pylant, Fairfax County's building official. “Decks usually fall down because they aren’t attached to your home properly. Another common cause for injuries is loose guardrails or posts. But you can avoid injuries and accidents with regular inspections and maintenance.”

Follow these five safety tips:

  1. Check support posts and beams for rot, splitting or abnormal movement.
  2. Closely check the attachment points between the deck and the house.
  3. Check all fasteners, bolts, joist hangers and other hardware for rust or corrosion.
  4. Check all guards and rails to be sure they are sturdy and secured.
  5. Use grills, heaters and outdoor fire pits with care.

Warning signs that a deck may be unsafe include: loose or wobbly railings or support beams, missing or loose screws that connect a deck to the house, corrosion, rot and cracks. Homeowners must get a county permit and inspections anytime they make structural repairs or changes to their deck.

Residents can get more tips and information online or call Fairfax County’s Land Development Services at 703-222-0114, TTY 711.

Five people have already been injured by collapsing decks this spring, according to news reports. Two people were injured in Newport News, Va., at the end of April, and another three were hurt in Morgantown, W. Va., in May.

While there are no government statistics, people are injured or killed every year by collapsing decks. Almost 2,000 people have been hurt and 30 have been killed by deck collapses between 2000 and 2006, according to the North American Deck and Railing Association.

For media inquiries, contact Brian Foley with Land Development Services at 703-222-0114, TTY 711.


Get News. Get Information. Get Fairfax County.Contact: Merni Fitzgerald, Director, Office of Public Affairs
703-324-3189, TTY 711, Media Pager: 703-324-NEWS (6397)
To request this information in an alternate format, call 703-324-3187, TTY 711

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