Ask the Inspector: Decks


Ask the Inspector: Decks

Q: How do I check if my deck is built according to correct safety standards?

Building a deck is a project often done by do-it-yourselfers; unfortunately, not all decks are built soundly. A deck inspection includes checking the support posts, railings and decking boards to ensure it is in proper condition and safe.

These are some key points to look for during a deck inspection:

•  Deck built immediately below electrical wires or over an air-conditioning/heat pump unit

•  Warped or fractured wood support posts

•  Deteriorated masonry posts

•  Missing support posts

•  Support posts that are sinking into the ground

•  Deck securely attached to house or independently supported

•  Bolts mounted head out and thread end in

•  Railings and steps installed (if required) and secure and sound

•  Decking in good condition and securely attached

For more information or to locate an inspector in your area, visit



Pool Safety


Summer is the most popular season for swimming pools. Routine maintenance is important for any swimming pool equipment. Here are some must know/must do items regarding swimming pools.

•  Hire a service contractor to routinely check equipment

•  Establish a maintenance routine based on your pool equipment

•  Maintain chemical balance, treatment and water chemistry

•  Keep records on maintenance and water chemistry

•  Routinely check for leaks at piping and other systems
•  Regularly change or clean filters and screens

•  Never allow children to use the pool without adult supervision

•  Install an electronic or automated safety monitoring system to detect water movement when the pool is not in use

•  Secure the pool with a proper enclosure when not in use



Nonwood Decking

Nonwood decking is a durable and low-cost alternative to wood decking. Colors are mixed into the material and range from white to dark/faux wood grain. Building with nonwood decking is easy because it can be cut, shaped and fastened much like wood.

Nonwood decking consists of two types: all-plastic and composite. Composite decking looks and feels more like wood because it contains about 50 percent wood dust from sawmills. However, it absorbs water, making it vulnerable to rot or decay. It can also stain or discolor easily so it has to be cleaned frequently.

All-plastic decking can be hosed off to clean off dirt or spills but can be more slippery than wood when wet. It is also lighter and thinner than wood or composite and sunlight can fade the surface causing it to appear chalky.

For more information, go to This Old House.

Maintenance Matters


If your home’s inside temperature is feeling more like the warm outside temperature, it could be a problem with the air conditioning system. What should you do if the air conditioning is not working in your home?

•  Check the thermostat. Is it set to “cooling” or “AC?” Is it set lower than the room temperature? If it’s a digital thermostat, is the battery dead?

•  Check the on/off switch on the side of the furnace or near the furnace. The furnace distributes air for the air conditioner and must be on.

•  Check if the disconnect switch outside at the AC unit is switched off, disconnect pulled or the fuse blown.

•  Check if the main breaker fuse for the air conditioner is off. Reset the breaker or replace the fuse.

•  Check for a broken belt or clogged air filter on the furnace.

•  Check if the coil above the furnace iced up.

•  Check if the exterior coil is dirty or blocked by plants.

•  It is always important to call a qualified service technician when you have questions or concerns and don’t feel comfortable performing the above checks yourself.

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