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Is Your Balcony Safe? 3 Warning Signs!

In California, you must have heard of the tragic balcony incident that left six people dead June of 2015 at an apartment building in Berkeley. And just in the past month another balcony collapse has left 5 people injured, including a child in Los Angeles, CA.

Balcony failures have been circulating through the news lately and these are not isolated incidents; in fact, 2017 had 4 incidents that reported within a couple days of eachother.

With all these incidents that have been occurring, ther is no wonder why law makers are have created SB721 to help regulate decks and balcony’s and hopefully avoid these tragic incidents from happening.When you step into the balcony, the last things you think about are safety and structure. After all, balconies have symbolized a romantic feel due to novels/movies such as Romeo and Juliet and Pretty Woman. Yet, safety and structure are our number 1 concerns now since all we have heard are tragic stories, that have happen due to balconies not being to code.

Even though we do not want to hear it, the awful truth is that balconies and decks present a real safety threat. An estimated 500 people are injured each year by deck collapses, and an estimated 50% of the 40 million decks in the U.S. are NOT built to code. Even if your deck was built to code, the possibilities of wood rot and other environmental factors can compromise the integrity of the structure. This also can vary in areas with extreme weather.

Like any other hazard, your best chance for safety depends on knowledge and preventive action. See below for the 3 warning signs to determine if your deck is at risk:

Do Nails hold up your Balcony or Deck?

Are nails holding up your deck/balcony? If so, your balcony is not up to code. Nails were not designed for structural work. You wouldn’t use a nail to hold up a heavy mirror or frame in your house so why would you use it for your decks and balconies. Nails can’t grip the wall and support the frame, and once you have realized that, you’ll know a deck with nails is a deck not nailed down. And you do not want to be seen standing on it.

How old is your Wood?

Like metal rusts, wood rots. Especially in damp climates. You should be getting your deck professionally inspected after ten years of its original built, then every three years after that. Look for porous, flaky wood. Poke it with screwdriver or umbrella. If it can crumble, it can bumble. There is no point of using all those screws and bolts if they have nothing to grab onto. Replace it!

Are you Rails Sturdy?

Your railings should be sturdy and at least 36” high (42” for commercial buildings). If it’s not sturdy, replace any loose or rotted railings immediately.

Now its time to check your deck and/ or balcony! Don’t be surprised if your deck falls into the 50% that are not to code. It is not unusual for subdivisions and other mass-produced homes to take shortcuts that no one can see. If you have even the slightest worry, call a professional at IQV Construction & Roofing. Chances you are due for a professional deck inspection anyway, so better safe than sorry.

IQV Construction & Roofing can get the job done efficiently while ensuring everyone’s safety. If you need an inspection or repair call us at 408-638-5500 or request a proposal online.