State Building Inspector gives advice to keep decks safe

(WTNH/Josh Scheinblum)

HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Decks and balconies are fun places to enjoy the outdoors with friends and family, but under certain conditions they can also be death traps.

Across the country in recent years, deck and balcony collapses have made national headlines. Tuesday, a collapse in Berkeley, Calif. left six people dead. There are steps those with balconies or decks can take to minimize the chances of a disaster happening to them.

RELATED STORY: 6 killed in California balcony collapse during a party

Experts recommenced that an inspector check a balcony or deck at least once a year, but you can do a test on your own. The “sway test” is where you get on your deck and you move side to side; if you notice that the structure begin to move, that could be the sign of a serious problem.

“If you’re not very handy you probably should get a professional to help, but minor repairs are something that a lot of people can handle,” said Joseph Cassidy, the acting State Building Inspector for Connecticut.

Cassidy says he’s not aware of any deck collapses happening locally during his tenure, but he does say owners should be careful before they or someone else steps out on them.

RELATED STORY: Deadly balcony collapse tied to rotted wooden beams

“Make sure you don’t have any cracked or warped boards or things like that, stuff that’s coming loose, things that look like they’re falling apart,” said Cassidy.

He also recommends limiting the number of people you host on a deck or balcony. A good rule of thumb, if you and you’re guests can’t move around the deck of balcony without bumping elbows, you may be putting to much stress on the structure.

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