Licensing and Regulatory Affairs
May 24, 2013 - The Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs' Bureau of Construction Codes offers important safety tips while enjoying your backyard deck and pool this Memorial Day weekend and all summer long. Now is the time to ensure decks and swimming pools are safe, as they pose risks to children as well as adults.
Decks, like any other part of your home, require regular maintenance and inspection. With an average life expectancy of 10 to 15 years, hundreds of decks in Michigan are beyond their useful life and may be unsafe. Deck collapses have caused serious reported injuries.
To ensure construction of your new or existing deck is structurally sound and safe, look for several warning signs that may be cause for concern. Check for loose boards or protruding nails. Consider repairing or rebuilding your deck if you see missing or loose connections, corrosion of connectors and fasteners, wood rot, or cracks. Look for wobbly railings, loose stairs and ledgers that appear to be pulling away from the home.
Weight and other forces can affect the safety of your deck. Like a house, a deck must be designed to support the weight of people and objects placed on it as well as the forces of Mother Nature such as wind and snow. Make sure the deck is constructed with a continuous load path, that is, a method of construction that uses metal connectors to create a series of solid connections within the structure of the deck. This path transfers the load or weight of the deck through its frame and into the ground/footings and adjacent support structure, usually your home. If your deck is built with a continuous load path, it will be better equipped to resist the forces that can weaken your deck. Contact your local building department with questions about deck construction requirements.
Rust and other signs of corrosion on metal connectors, screws and nails can weaken the structure of your deck. Use of stainless steel connectors, screws and nails is one way to combat corrosion. Chemicals in pressure-treated woods and other corrosive elements can also damage your deck. Depending on the type of deck boards used, keep your deck sealed to protect against water and sun damage.
If you're considering a swimming pool purchase, contact your local building department to determine what permits are needed and what requirements must be followed. In- and above-ground pools, including inflatable pools holding more than 24 inches of water, must be surrounded by a fence or other barrier at least four feet high. Pedestrian access gates must be self-closing and self-latching. Steps and ladders for above-ground pools should be secured or removed when the pool is not in use. All pool and hot tub drains (suction outlets) must have a cover or grate that meets industry standards for suction fittings marked to indicate compliance with ANSI/ASME A112.19.8 2007.
Check to see that these covers fit properly, are anchored firmly over the drain opening, and are not broken or in disrepair. se a cover for the pool when it is not in use and never allow anyone to stand or play on a pool cover. Consider installing a pool alarm that can alert if someone enters the pool. Spa water temperatures should be set to 104 degrees Fahrenheit or lower to avoid elevated body temperature, which could lead to drowsiness, unconsciousness, heat stroke or death.
LARA's Bureau of Construction Codes works to ensure that the built environment and the systems within are sound, safe, and sanitary; the public's health, safety, and welfare is protected; and that, through a coordinated program of code compliance, investigation and training, there is consistent application of standards.
For more information, go to the Bureau of Construction Codes website at www.michigan.gov/bcc.
For more information about LARA, please visit www.michigan.gov/lara
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