Can this deck be made safe? (Pics attached)


Old 05-14-14, 02:31 PM
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Can this deck be made safe? (Pics attached)

I recently bought a house that was built in 2003. Its located in Nashville, TN. Its a brick veneer with vinyl on back of house, built on a tall crawl space with a very slight slope in backyard. A home inspection and engineering inspection was conducted prior to purchase. The only item noted to remediate with the deck was to add lag bolts with washers and nuts. It was reported that flashing was not present as the ledger was installed over the vinyl siding. Neither person thought it was a big issue. It sounded like the deck was overall structurally ok and just needed the lag bolts. Simple enough I thought at the time, but now I am not so sure. Need advice on if, and how, this deck can be made safe because as I research I am worried its worse then what I was led to believe. I see Simpson Strong Tie makes quite a few products for retrofitting and Im trying to be hopeful this isnt tear down. The wood is CCA PT and appears sound and decay free.

I have two areas of the house that cantilever (bay window and fireplace) and based upon my research online it doesnt appear the deck is supported correctly there. Is the best option to add a beam the length of the deck,parallel to the ledger, underneath the existing joists? There are 3 posts already in place that are away from ledger near the cantilevered areas. Is there a way to add the beam using those vs adding new posts?

Also, I do not see any joist hangers and just about every piece of wood in the entire structure is nailed. Its supported underneath the joist to ledger attachment with 2x2. I understand that may be acceptable, but given everything else, is it truly safe? Similarly, the outer support (rim joist?) is nailed to the exterior face of the support posts. Then the joists are nailed to the rim joist with 2x2 under it.

Poking the support posts with a screwdriver does not reveal any decay though one post does appear to have a chunk out at base. It may have been decaying and was removed by previous owner. I have not yet dug around the posts yet to verify depth and type of footer. I expect to see 12-18 inch deep holes with concrete poured around the post. My county says footings poured today should be 16x16 with 8 inches of concrete under post with concrete on undisturbed soil.

The railings on the lower deck are too short compared to code requirements in place today and are wobbly as are stairs. Its all nailed. Would adding bolts help? If so, where do you suggest? I see that Simpson makes retrofit products for stairs and railings too.

The covered portion doesnt have railings that are appropriately designed. Just two horizontal pieces of wood. It is not wobbly, however a child or pet could fall through the screen.

So, assuming I can make this safe vs tearing down, where do I start?

My thought is the ledger board is most critical and to start there with bolting. If so, any suggestions on size and type of bolts for CCA? I read they should be offset. How many? Its 20x12 covered area. Any tricks for proper installation? Do I need to add two lateral load connectors? I know its not code required, but given how the deck set up is it wise to do so? If so, how is that done?

Then do I try to add a new support beam perpendicular to joists to address the bay and fireplace issue? And then retrofit joist hangers at ledger? Should I add lag bolts and/or Simpson ties to the rim joist and post connections? Then retrofit joist hangers to the rim joist? Do I need to add a beam perpendicular to joists 12 inches or so from the rim joist? What else?
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Last edited by Rileydog123; 05-14-14 at 02:57 PM. Reason: pics not attached
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Old 05-14-14, 02:58 PM
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I have more pics but its not letting me upload any more. Let me know if there is another view of the deck you need to see and I can delete one of the others.
Old 05-14-14, 03:06 PM
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Lag bolts with washers & nuts? Don't lag bolts just tap into the wood? Where was it recommended that you put the lag bolts? I don't think that you need any more bolts in the ledger board. However, a header perpendicular to the joists is a good idea. They posts should be on concrete footings to wherever the frost line is. Don't trust the existing posts unless they have the correct footings. You can do the same at the front of the deck. I would remove the 2x2s & add joist hangers.

I imagine that adding bolts to the stairs & railings will help but it's hard to say without pics of both, top & bottom.
Old 05-14-14, 03:43 PM
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Your experience clearly shows that anyone can be a home inspector, even if they don't know very much about sound construction practices. Or worse yet, choose not to report deficiencies for fear of being a "deal-breaker."

I'd concentrate on the ledger's attachment first, since ledger failure is the leading cause of deck collapses. After installing temporary bracing under the joists, the ledger should first be completely removed, the siding under it removed, then the ledger installed (with galvanized steel Z-flashing tucked up and under the overlying siding), using galvanized 1/2"-dia. lag or through bolts, using double flat washers and spaced as per Table 5 in DCA 6. I suspect new beams and support columns will be needed where the original construction is attached to the cantilever and fireplace.

Before running out of enthusiasm, you should install appropriate joist hangers at the ends of all of the joists, which will require getting rid of the nailed 2 x 2s. Don't wait too long before beefing up the railing system, and installing some concrete footings if none are present now.
Old 05-14-14, 06:02 PM
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On the bolt question. Both the inspector and engineer reccomended using a thru bolt that goes thru ledger, vinyl, and house framing.
Then add the bolt on other side in crawlspace. My lag screws do not meet the min number and location placement required. However, I wonder if trying to add this is helpful?
DTT2 Deck Post Connectors

Removing the vinyl I fear will require me to hire help. However, so far, no one is willing to do this. Its raining a ton this weekend so going to check and see if I see any moisture is coming in as its a covered deck. Im
Sure it is.

Sadly, I looked at over 5 neighborhoods and all had decks constructed similarly. It must have met code here in 2000-2007.

I will see if the site will let me add more pics without starting another thread.
Old 05-15-14, 06:53 AM
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The DTT2 bracket can be added in addition to the proper number of bolts in the ledger. Even with the bracket you still need to have the proper number of bolts on the ledger (yes, I said that twice). The bolts through the ledger help carry the weight of the deck and prevent it from pulling away from the house. The DTT2 bracket only prevents the deck from pulling away from the house. Two different tasks.

The removal of the vinyl is to install the proper flashing and inspect for damage. Without the flashing you will likely have a rot. There is probably no protective anything behind your current ledger to keep water out. The roof helps but the ends get a fair amount of water blown in and are very susceptible. It's possible you have flashing hiding under the siding though I doubt it since it's not visible from below. If it is present it's likely directing water down inside the wall behind the vinyl.

You can post as many pictures as you want if you host the on a web photo hosting website like Photobucket. Then you insert the links to your photos in your post.

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