13 Dec 2010

Deck Maintenance: Cleaning Up After a Storm

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Snow Storm
Image by DJ SINGH via Flickr

This winter promises to be a harsh one for the Pacific Northwest, and winter storms can be hard on a composite or cedar deck. Here’s a checklist of things to do after a storm to keep your decking material in the best shape possible:

Survey the Damage

Before taking any action, look around your yard to get an idea of what your cleanup will entail and whether it’s safe to start working. Look for low-hanging branches and fallen or leaning trees, particularly if they are on or near your deck, as these can constitute a safety hazard. You should also scan for fallen or sagging power lines around your yard — if you see any, stay away from the area and report the problem to your power company immediately.

Once you have determined it is safe to begin work, check the general condition of your decking. Look for any popped nails that need to be hammered down or decking material that has come loose needs re-securing. You should also test any handrails and stairs for stability and examine your deck’s support posts for signs of weakness and rot.

Clean Debris Off Your Deck

Once you’ve assessed the safety of your cedar or composite decking material, it’s time to clear away any debris the storm has left behind. This includes mud, leaves, branches, pooled water and any other organic matter that has been deposited on your deck, as these can spread rot, encourage mold and mildew growth and even stain your deck if left unaddressed.

Sweep off any loose debris and hose down any muddy areas. Make sure you don’t leave any excess water standing on your deck. Pay special attention to the cracks between deck boards, as debris can sometimes become lodged in these spaces.

Snow and Ice Removal

If you’re cleaning up after a snowstorm, it’s a good idea to remove any snow or ice from your decking material. To remove snow without damaging your decking, use a stiff-bristled broom or plastic snow shovel (not metal) and shovel along the length of the boards to avoid gouging the decking. For composite decking, you can try using rock salt to melt the ice or snow, as long as you make sure to rinse off any residue. Do not use salt or de-icers on a cedar deck.

Damage Prevention

To avoid further damage to your deck from future storms, there are a few preventive measures you can take. Remove any potted plants, as water can pool beneath them and damage the decking. You should also regularly check your deck for cracks and promptly repair any you find, as water can freeze inside them and cause the cracks to expand. Finally, make sure you’re regularly restaining your cedar deck to protect it from the elements.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Dave_C._Nichols

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