Few things strike more fear in the hearts of homeowners than water damage. It can lead to mold, destroy building materials and when it gets bad enough, weaken the structural integrity of the home. One of the most challenging parts of fixing it is figuring out where the water damage is coming from and that’s where the “deck surprise” often comes into play.
For instance, every so often we’ll get a call to give an estimate on new windows because the homeowners believe the source of their water damage is a bad window. We go out to inspect and it turns out the windows are just fine. That’s the good news. The bad news? They aren’t wrong about the water damage. The surprise? It’s coming from their deck.
How can a deck cause water damage inside your home? The weak point is usually where the deck meets the house, at the ledger board. The ledger board is the horizontal wood framing that attaches the deck to your home. If there is separation between where your deck connects to the house at the ledger board, water can seep in at this point and over time create serious problems for your home.
Shoddy installation is usually the culprit. When a deck is attached to the home, a building product called flashing needs to be installed under the siding. Flashing is a thin piece of impervious material that helps create a weather resistant barrier between the ledger board and the exterior sheathing (usually plywood or oriented strand board). There should also be wrapping over the ledger board.
When a deck isn’t flashed properly, water gets into the wood and if it is unable to dry out, this creates an environment where wood rot happens and water damage can occur throughout this area of the home. These problems may take a few years to show up, and they may only be discovered when other work is being done in that part of the house.
Bad Ledger Board Connections
The most obvious sign of deterioration is when the deck itself starts to pull away from the house because of rotten wood or other water damage. This can lead to total deck collapse.
In other cases, the deck itself may be in fairly good shape but the water damage shows up in other areas around the house like wall studs, sheathing and visible mold throughout the area.
If the damage is severe enough, homeowners may need to replace damaged structural wood, along with the entire exterior cladding including siding, water barrier, plywood sheathing, insulation and replacing/rebuilding framing for multiple doors and windows.
We understand that hiring a contractor to add or replace a deck is an expensive proposition. For many, the desire to save money often tempts homeowners to think a deck is a harmless weekend project they can put together with a few buddies. With the right construction background that may be true for some but if not, a poorly installed deck could end up costing much more than you save by not hiring a professional deck builder.
Home Town Restyling installs top quality decks and uses only licensed and insured crews for professional installation. We also back up everything we do with lifetime warranty. Download our FREE Deck Replacement Checklist and start planning like a pro.