Deck Issue (pictures included)


Old 01-31-12, 08:41 PM
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Deck Issue (pictures included)

I have a contract on a house; today was the inspection. The house passed with flying colors..... except for the deck. The home and deck are ~17 years old. While the deck boards themselves have been well cared for, it appears that some of the supports under the deck itself are separating from the wall. The deck is approximately 32' long with 24 support beams ~16'' apart perpendicular to the house. About 9 of the support beams are separating from the wall (just slightly).

I'm including pictures below. I included the most egregious examples; basically, I want to know, is this something that will require a massive overhaul or is this something that can be relatively painlessly fixed.

Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!!

Here is a picture of the supports themselves --

And one picture from above --

Old 02-01-12, 06:55 AM
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I don't think they are pulling away from the house. It looks like they were cut poorly when built. You can see where they are still touching at the top so they can't get any closer to the house. The only way they can be pulling away is if the outer end of the beams were lifted which should be easily noticed.

Personally I do not like to see the joists resting on a 2x2 even when done properly. I much prefer joist hangers which could be retrofitted to your deck pretty easily.
Old 02-01-12, 08:32 PM
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The joists shouldn't have been notched and toe nailed to the ledger. They should have been installed in joist hangers, and their full width maintained.

Retrofitting hangers, like Pilot Dane says, will be pretty simple. That may be enough to satisfy the inspector, depending on the mood he's in.

The problem with the notches is that they reduced the effective size of the joists. If the joists are 2X10's, those notches effectively reduced them to 2X8's. And the overcuts in the saw kerfs has comprimised them even farther.

Not sure why the builder went to all of that trouble. Hangers would have been faster, cheaper, and stronger.
Old 02-05-12, 10:30 PM
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The deck's hand railing does not appear to be compliant with most building codes, in that interior support posts are missing. I think the IRC requirement (it calls them "guard posts") calls for a post every 6'-0", or less. Your picture doesn't appear to have any.
Old 02-06-12, 08:45 AM
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You are correct that the posts are required by the current IRC, but keep in mind, this deck is 17 years old, so when it was built, a different version of the code applied. May have been the IRC or it may have been the UBC, or something else even. (I've never lived in GA, I don't know.) But built in '95, under the UBC, and depending on the jurisdiction it was built in and what their rules were, it may have been legal then.

As far as the missing hangers and the ledger bolt pattern -- who knows?? Those items may have met whatever code was in force when and where the deck was built as well.

Obviously none of those issues meet today's code, but today's code didn't exist in it's current form 17 years ago.
Old 03-15-12, 01:19 PM
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Actually, your situation might be a lot more dangerous. There should definitely be brackets on the joists but if the joists were square cut, the gap could mean they have been pulling away, either through frost action or rotating away from the house. You don't show the lower structure but I am assuming it was minimum code, 4x4 posts, maybe a couple of angled wood brackets.

The deck needs to be held to the house structure. Simpson and others make tie downs that are also used to hold a wall to the foundation that can be used and are referenced in the codes. Stop at the library (IRC, Section 5) and look it up or better still, the town building office, for advice. I would recommend that you make this connection now, before you use the deck, lest it pitch to the yard taking your family with it. Or get the advice of an architect or engineer for the proper connection. It's a lot less expensive than rebuilding or hospital bills.
Old 03-15-12, 05:17 PM
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Probably built under the Southern Building Code which incorporated much of the UBC. As Mike says, the current code wouldn't apply to a 17 year old deck, sad to say. Even back then I didn't like cutting joists as it just didn't make sense to reduce the effectiveness of the total width of the joist. The builder put more labor into what he did than would have cost to use even the old joist hangers.
Old 03-16-12, 06:07 AM
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Beef it up!

I'm not particularly fond of joist hangers because they are nailed so close to the end of a board. They are approved, however, and would be a quick and easy fix. I do all my own work here on "the plantation" and have a tendency to overbuild, so pardon me ahead of time for my contribution. A really solid solution to your issue would be a post and beam structure under the deck located about 16" from the house end of the structure. The folks who failed the deck upon inspection should be able to give you guidance on what they think would fix it, so start there before you buy or do anything. It is their inspection you must satisfy. That said, I would put five or six uprights made of
4X4 treated wood and fasten a built up beam, one layer at a time either to the 4X4s or in a T-saddle sitting atop the 4X4s. (Simpson strong-tie). Start with the uprights about 16" in from each end for appearance sake and let the beam overhang the end post by that amount (cantilever). I believe that two 2X8s nailed together would be more than adequate for your beam. The pad beneath the post could be poured concrete 4" thick with a post saddle imbedded in it when poured. If you decide to put the post itself in concrete or in the soil, make sure it is deep-treated and rated for foundation use. The above-ground treated stuff is not meant to hold up under those conditions. A few 45-degree braces from beam to post may be required. Again, if you have an inspector, they should be able to give you ideas about what would pass inspection. The solution I present to you should more than pass and provide safety for years to come. Actually, I would probably use 4X6 treated and notch for one of the beam 2X8s, but I'm trying to tone-down my overbuild tendency. You are more likely to find 4X6 rather than 4X4 in deep-treat rated for ground contact or even foundation use. Remember to use hot-dipped galvanized fasteners (or stainless steel) approved for the current treatment chemicals.
Old 03-17-12, 09:10 PM
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Things must be a lot different in LA than they are on the left coast.

Of the 150 to 200 or so decks that I've built in the past 20 years, every one of them was required to have joist hangers. And the shallowest footing I've ever been able to use was 15" deep. And I've never been allowed to embed a post in the footing. The bldg. depts. around here all call for stand-off post bases embedd properly in the footing and the posts attached properly to the bases used. The size of the beam is determined by the spacing of the posts, as well as the size of the posts used, and 4X4 posts are pretty much a thing of the past under the IRC.

The rest of what you said was good.
Old 03-18-12, 10:07 AM
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All the pros have pretty much weighed in but from what I see, at best, just install joist hangers. At worst sister another joist and add double joist hangers. Either way it would be a rather easy fix.

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