Inspecting and maintaining balcony decks every 3 years both a safety and a financial responsibility.
For both aspects, keep in mind that deck surfaces may appear to be fine, while there may wood rot, termites or mold beneath, compromise the deck’s ability to hold weight, and threatening the structural integrity of the building they are attached too. A trained inspector will know what to look for, and inspections should be done every 3 years.
Safety and Liability
From a safety standpoint, it’s important to know that any balcony has the potential to fail, if not properly maintained. While decks are covered with a waterproofing system, they are supported by wooden beams that attach to a building’s structural beams. It is also important to note that water can penetrate small cracks, causing wood rot and/or mold beneath the surface. Keeping in mind that decks hold weight, a few rotted beams can cause a deck to collapse when people stand on the deck. Remember the Berkeley deck collapse in 2015? Six people died from standing on a deck that appeared perfectly normal to the naked eye, while a qualified inspector would have been able to see signs of dry rot stemming from construction defect (improper installation of waterproofing system).
A trained inspector will be able to tell if the integrity of the waterproofing system has been compromised, and know what type of repairs to recommend.
I like to use an analogy that we can all relate to: getting your oil changed. It is recommended that we change the oil in our cars every 3,000 miles, at a cost of $35-$75. If you don’t change your oil regularly, thinking you are saving money, you are allowing the engine parts to wear down due to improper lubrication, eventually resulting in engine failure. Cost to replace an engine? Between $3,500-$4,500.
Now let’s look at balcony decks. The cost to reseal a single balcony deck average about $350-$650, depending on the size of the deck. This should be done every 3 years, at which time any small cracks can be repaired to prevent water intrusion. However, if defer the maintenance for 6-9 years, you may be looking at a complete tear out at $3,000, not to mention the high possibility of termite infestation, as termites love soft wood. So, does it pay to perform regular deck maintenance? Absolutely.