Deck repair: stair landing on dirt, wobbly stair railing, bent post

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Old 07-09-14, 01:09 PM
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Deck repair: stair landing on dirt, wobbly stair railing, bent post

Hey all. I finally have a question of my own that I can't find an answer for, or at least not to my satisfaction.

First - I put in a paver patio to connect my walkout under a deck to a shed approximately 30 feet away. my poor foresight planning didn't look at the finished height at the deck stairs. The patio ended up 12 inches below the last stair/step. While excavating, I noticed that the stringers are landed on top of a 2x on top of dirt, apparently the stringers aren't treated because the ground contact has it softened a bit at the bottom. I'm thinking of replacing the stringers and any non-pt wood, a lot of the wood is painted and peeling.
In an effort to continue on my project, I put a paver step to fill in the 12" gap. Looks great, but the stringers are still landed on dirt and will get worse as time passes. What should I do for the landing? Pour sonotube footings 42" below grade or can I get away with some gravel and 4" thick slab to land the stringers on? I'm not sure how the stairs are connected to the decking yet, will look into that today, I'm assuming it's more of a hinged connection since the stairs would heave with frost whilst the deck is on concrete footings.

Second - rotted stringers have made the railing wobbly. I plan on replacing the stringers, and any painted wood with PT wood. Can the post at the end of the stairs go into the ground? Or on the ground, on landing pad, or above ground?

Third - One of the 8 deck posts on the headers furthest away from the house is leaning away from the house. I measured it with a digital angle finder and it came out to be 5 degrees from vertical at the top where it connects to the headers. Is this cause for concern? I bought the house a couple years ago and noticed this leaning post a few months after moving in but never thought anything of it. The inspector didn't say anything about it either so it must be fine?

Thanks in advance!
 
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Old 07-16-14, 08:20 PM
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I just saw your post. I would have answered earlier.
First: Sonotube footings are the way to go.
Second: Use the same footings for the railing posts.
Third: Add another post & footing next to the leaning post. I hope all those posts have footings.
 
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Old 07-17-14, 09:44 AM
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No worries, it's still a bit further out before i do any work on the deck related stuff.

What do you mean by use the same footings for the railing posts? do you mean for me to put the railing post on the footing and tie it down or just set it on the footing? I planned to have most/all of the footing under a cleat so the footing isn't visible, but it sounds like I'll have to bring it out further?

I'm not sure if the posts have footings but I've dug down about 2' from the original grade and the post still goes down. Can I just replace the post? Is it a severe safety hazard or something that can be attended to later?
 
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Old 07-17-14, 02:02 PM
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Actually, I should have said the same type of footings although sometimes they are actually the same footings. For example, the support posts for the deck should be set on concrete footings that go to the frost line which is probably 4' where you are. The posts themselves don't go under the ground. It sounds like your deck wasn't built to code. It's not necessarily a safety hazard. They tend to rot though. If I build a free standing deck, I hang the beams between the posts. That way the posts continue upwards & are used for the railings, as well.
 
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Old 07-23-14, 09:27 PM
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Deck is attached to the house judging by the bolts going into a ledger, that's not considered free standing deck, correct?
All deck posts except railing post go underground at least 2 feet, I didn't want to continue further although I'm sure it went down past the frost line. What part of it isn't built to code? that the post went underground? I looked at my city's deck guidelines and it doesn't say anything about deck posts going underground or on footings.
 
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Old 07-24-14, 04:56 AM
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Deck posts should not be buried. They will rot. Footings should be poured to a point below local frost line, post bases installed in the mix, and posts set in the post bases to keep them from being in constant contact with water. Although your local code doesn't give much information, check this PDF file out. It is a super guideline for deck building and follows most codes. http://www.awc.org/Publications/DCA/DCA6/DCA6-09.pdf
 
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Old 07-26-14, 09:14 PM
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Not to be argumentative with you more knowledgeable folks here... While I understand normal wood with ground contact will rot, I think there is foundation grade and ground contact grade for a reason. The posts look perfectly fine 2' below the surface. The house was built in '97 and 17 years hasn't bothered it one bit, actually looks better since the part that's above ground is dry and checking. Maybe it'll start rotting in another 17 years? I don't know, maybe.
The document you linked to from AWC shows my deck post configuration as an option. Is it still wrong?
 
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Old 07-26-14, 09:34 PM
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There are still thousands of decks built with posts in the ground. The use of footings is a newer & better way to build. That's why we mentioned it. No one is going to demand that you install footings, at this point in time. You may have a problem if you decide to sell but other than that, whatever you want to do is fine.
 
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Old 07-26-14, 10:03 PM
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So, if I'm reading between the lines correctly, the deck isn't up to code?
 
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Old 07-26-14, 10:21 PM
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Your deck doesn't meet DCA 6, but it sounds like it meets your local building code. Can't say for sure without seeing/inspecting your deck, and having a copy of your local code in front of me. Your posts/columns buried in the ground may not be rotted yet because your soils contain a lot of glaciated moraine, meaning they're well-draining.

Count your blessings, if that's the case.
 
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