Avoid Deck Collapse: Make Sure Your Deck Can Handle Snow and Ice

Share Article

Decks can collapse from winter snow and ice. Chad Galbreath, president of Penn Fencing, Inc. in Butler, PA, offers nine pointers for a do-it-yourself deck safety inspection before winter arrives.

Deck band board out of alignment

This deck band board shows signs of stress and may indicate an unsafe structure.

“Decks can and do collapse under snow and ice loads,” says Chad Galbreath, president of professional deck builder Penn Fencing, Inc., in the Greater Pittsburgh area. He offers nine pointers for a pre-winter deck inspection.

You enjoyed your deck all summer, but is it safe for the challenges of winter? If you live in western Pennsylvania, Ohio, or West Virginia, a deck with safety risks will only get worse with freezing, thawing, rain, ice, and snow loads.

“Decks can and do collapse under snow and ice loads,” says Chad Galbreath, president of professional deck builder Penn Fencing, Inc., in Butler, PA. He offers nine pointers for a pre-winter deck inspection that can ensure your family’s deck safety and save you expense later on:

1.    Is the deck ledger board in good condition? This is the critical connection between the deck and house. Says Galbreath, “In our experience, about 90% of deck collapses involve problems with the deck ledger board.”

2.    Is the deck band board in good condition? The deck band board supports the entire outer rim of the deck. According to Galbreath, a weak band board weakens the entire structure and puts stress on the all-important ledger board.

3.    Do you find splinters, buckled or loose boards, uneven stair treads, popped nails, or discolored areas? These are all symptoms of deterioration and inspection may reveal deeper safety problems.

4.    Check fasteners. Is there evidence of missing hardware, rust, or corrosion?

5.    Inspect posts and footings. Are post and beam connections secure? Is there evidence of rot or splitting?

6.    Do railings along the deck and stairs feel completely stable? Check every section. Loose or corroded rail mounts can create a very high risk for falls due to railing failure.

7.    Are railing supports broken or missing altogether? When supports are missing, the railing is unsafe, especially for children and pets.

8.    Is the railing high enough? Local codes govern railing height, a key component in preventing falls. If your deck was built a while ago, or if the builder didn’t comply with code, it may be too low for safety.

9.    Is your deck near the end of its expected lifespan? Even the best constructed decks are built to last only 15 years. How old is yours?

If any of these does not meet your satisfaction, it's in your best interest to pay attention. “Resolve your questions before winter,” says Galbreath. “Your reward is not only a safe deck structure, but lower overall costs for the life of the deck or porch. Annual maintenance is usually far more economical than total replacement.”

Galbreath recommends some resources to help your deck safety inspection:

Consumer Checklists:
North American Deck and Railing Association

Deck Inspections, Illustrated International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, Inc.

About Penn Fencing, Inc.:

Penn Fencing offers free estimates for all deck maintenance projects: repairs, upgrades or replacements. Call 888-728-4695 to learn if you are in their western Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia coverage area. The 30-year-old company provides maintenance parts for decks, porches, and railings in addition to its full service deck installation services. Penn Fencing is an active member of the American Fence Association, the largest organization representing the entire fence, deck and railing industry, and employs AFA-Certified Fencing Professionals.
Reach Chad Galbreath, president, at 888-728-4965.

Share article on social media or email:

View article via:

Pdf Print

Contact Author

Chad Galbreath
Follow us on
Visit website