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Common Property Defects

July 29, 2018

Ledger board is 1" plus out of plumb.

Simpson tensioning devices help correct and stabilize defect.

BY Jay Hoffman

Whether inspecting or remodeling properties I come across many defects. As a licensed property inspector my number one concern is for the safety of those inhabiting the property.  My writings will address mostly the defects I have encountered unless stated otherwise. This summer is deck season for me. This particular serious defect involves a deck ledger board pulling away from the structure. (upper left photo). It has pulled more than an inch from the structure on one end of a 20' x 6' balcony.


It is estimated that 800,000 decks were built in 2005 alone. It is difficult to gather accurate data as there is not a single reporting source. Thousands of decks fail each year leading to serious and sometimes fatal casualties. Too often it is due to a lack of code compliance or no code at all leaving less than reputable carpenters cutting corners to save money and increase profits.


This ledger board in my recent project appeared to be adequately fastened with 3/8 lag screws. When I pulled one out to inspect further I discovered the lag screw was only 2" long. A lag screw must penetrate well into the band board of the structure.

In addition, I found a steel I-beam located behind the ledger not a wood band board. It should have been bolted through with a 1/2 inch bolt, nut, and washers. 


My intervention included drilling through the i-beam and adding 1/2" x 7" bolts secured to Simpson tensioning devices which I added to the deck joists. On the outside end of the joist to header I installed a Simpson tensioning device as well. (see bottom right photo) I also needed to jack the deck back up to allow the ledger to return to its original position. Although this may sound simple it required incremental adjustments carefully tightening the bolts and jacking the deck. It was important to prevent the joists from pulling out of the Teco brackets that supported them during the adjustment.


My advice; use a professional and reputable carpenter to repair serious defects such as this. Always have a house inspected before purchasing.