After recent collapses in Montgomery Co., some tips for deck safety


This photo from a Germantown home where a deck collapsed Saturday shows damage to the band board. It happens when flashing isn’t installed properly, one expert said, allowing water to seep in. (Courtesy Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services)

This photo from a Germantown home where a deck collapsed Saturday shows a band board that is practically gone. (Courtesy Montgomery County Department of Permitting Services)

Following two deck collapses within two weeks in Germantown, Maryland, local officials have some tips to help keep your home’s deck safe.

Montgomery County’s Department of Permitting Services suggests checking your deck closely at least once a year, especially in one crucial place.

“The key area to look would be the ledger board, the connection of the deck to the home,” said Jim Sackett, the department’s manager for residential inspections.

“Sometimes in older homes, the deck may not have been flashed correctly, and it gets water into the home, and the band board [the part of the home the deck’s ledger board attaches to] will decay.”

The department has a deck-maintenance checklist for homeowners that suggests looking for things, such as soft wood, wobbly guardrails, loose or corroded deck fasteners and more.

“You want to look at the connection of the post to the ground. That’s kind of an area where you see rot over time,” Sackett said.

Allowing your deck to become overcrowded during a party — or otherwise adding too much weight to it — is of course a big no-no. “You don’t want to overload the deck,” said Sackett. “You don’t want to put a spa on a deck that it’s not designed for.”

On May 25, a deck collapsed along Perrone Drive in Germantown, leaving several people with injuries that were not life-threatening.

Then last Saturday, another deck collapsed in Germantown, during a birthday party on Liberty Heights Lane.

Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service initially reported that more than 100 people were on the deck when it fell. But Sackett said the homeowner told them only 20-30 people were on the deck at the time of the accident. A post-collapse inspection by his department found the home’s band board had deteriorated so badly that it was almost nonexistent.