How to Spot Problems Before They Get Out of Hand

The best way to keep deck repair costs down is to spot problems before they get out of hand. A professional can help you inspect your deck for damage and recommend the right action. For more information visit Deck Cleaning Summerville SC.

Examine wood for splinters and cracks that can cause rot. Tap on loose boards with a screwdriver to see how the wood feels and sounds. Any areas that feel soft or spongy should be removed and replaced.

The cracks that form in your deck’s boards aren’t only unsightly, but they can also create tripping hazards. The good news is that this problem can usually be repaired with a little time and effort. Cracks in wood are caused by a variety of environmental factors, including moisture and temperature fluctuations. This can lead to the expansion and contraction of the wood, which causes it to split.

The type of wood used is another factor, with some species more prone to cracking than others. Hardwoods like Ipe, Cumaru, and Tigerwood are less prone to this issue than softer woods like pine or pressure-treated lumber. In addition, the way the board is installed can contribute to cracking. For example, boards that aren’t spaced properly can cause stress that leads to cracking.

If the cracks are on the surface of the wood, you can usually fix them with a deck filler. You can find wood fillers at your local hardware store in both powdered and stick form. Look for a stainable filler that will take on the color of your wood and blend in with it. For deeper cracks, try using a wood putty or epoxy. However, if the crack is a structural concern, it’s a good idea to bring in a professional.

A professional can inspect the cracks and determine if they are simply cosmetic or a sign of a bigger issue. In addition to evaluating the length and width of the crack, they will check for any areas where the cracks are forming around metal fasteners or connections. Cracks that form around notches are especially concerning, as they can indicate a connection failure and may require the replacement of the entire board.

Taking the proper steps to prevent the appearance of cracks in your deck can save you money and extend the life of your wooden deck. The most important step is to ensure the boards are properly sealed and maintained, which will help protect them from absorbing excess moisture. You can also prevent cracking by purchasing higher-grade lumber that has a lower tendency to check and by installing the boards correctly.

A noticeable sag in a deck stair can result from structural problems or weather changes. Stairs comprise treads and risers, which slot into pockets in stair stringers (the inclined boards that carry the stairs). Treads and risers may also be fastened with nails, but the best way to repair a loose stair is to replace it. If a stair is still firm, add wood shims between it and the frame to prevent it from pulling away from the deck.

Treads and risers are usually held firm and squeak-free by wedges glued and nailed to both sides. Creaking is often caused by the movement of these wedges, which can be silenced by simply removing them and regluing them to both the tread and the riser. If the wedges are in good shape, you can coat them with modern resin glue and hammer them tightly.

The stair framing is a complicated piece of joinery, and if the stairs are loose, it’s essential to take them apart carefully to ensure that they’re reassembled properly. It’s also important to ensure that the stair is not sitting on the floor, which can cause it to buckle and warp over time.

Before attempting to work on a sagging stair, blow compressed air into any spaces beneath the stairs to clear them of dust and debris. You can then begin to pry the risers and treads free from the stringers, being careful not to damage them. A hammer and screwdriver should be enough to break any glue or nail holding the riser or tread in place.

Once the stair is completely disassembled, you can see where the problem lies. Most squeaks come from the front of a stair, so it’s a good idea to drill holes at opposing angles through the tread and into the riser. This will squish the wood together and silence any squeaks.

You can use a countersink tool to make the hole bigger, allowing you to use longer screws that are more likely to hold the wood in place. You can also shim the staircase by installing 2x material glued and screwed between the stringers to apply inward pressure to the stairs. This will keep the treads and risers from working outward, but it’s a complex job that should be left to professionals.

A loose or wobbly handrail can be a serious safety hazard, especially for older adults and people with mobility issues. This can cause falls that result in injury or even death. Fortunately, most loose deck rails can be repaired easily with some simple DIY steps.

Checking that the posts and beams that support the railing are firmly fastened is usually all it takes to fix a loose wood deck rail. Most problems stem from a bad connection between the post and the deck frame or joists. At the very least, lag screws or bolts should be used to connect the framing to the post, and those should be surrounded with blocking to keep them in place. Bolts and screws should be tightened, and lags checked periodically to ensure they’re still secure.

For metal railings, check the connections between each baluster and the newel post. Loose balusters are typically caused by the screw or nail used to hold the railing to the post, which has worked loose over time as it’s bowed from use. If the bolt or screw remains intact, it can be tapped with a hammer. Then the railing can be re-secured with a fresh screw or nail.

If the newel posts feel solid, but the fence still wiggles, check the metal hardware that holds it together. This hardware usually has holes (sometimes plugged) under the surface that permit tightening by turning a star-shaped nut on the end of a tool. If these bolts are loosened, it can cause the wooden handrail to move between the newel posts.

It’s important to install deck framing components according to the building code and manufacturer’s instructions. However, it’s rare for framing errors to be the sole cause of a loose deck railing. A loose or missing railing is more likely to occur because of an improper design or installation. If a visitor to your deck falls and is injured by a faulty or loose handrail, you could be liable under premises liability laws. For this reason, it’s best to inspect and repair your deck for loose or broken handrails to prevent injuries.

When mold and mildew grow on your deck, it’s more than an eyesore. The fungi can damage wood and, if left unchecked, will cause structural problems. Mildew and mold grow in the wettest parts of your deck and are often found on surfaces that trap moisture. While both can damage wood, mildew is not as invasive and generally doesn’t penetrate the wood grain as mold.

Luckily, if you catch these problems early, mold and mildew don’t cause much damage. If you spot it on your deck, take action right away. However, the method you use to remove the spores and roots will vary depending on the severity of the problem.

For mildew, you can scrub the affected area with a brush and a cleaning solution made from white distilled vinegar. The vinegar will remove the spores and prevent them from growing back.

If the mold is bad, you may need to pressure clean the deck. Use a low setting or hire a professional to avoid damaging the soft wood.

You can also use an oxygen bleach solution to remove mildew from your deck. Add 8 to 10 tablespoons of trisodium phosphate and one cup of household chlorine bleach to a gallon of water, then scrub the area with a nylon bristle brush. After cleaning, you can rinse off the area with a garden hose.

For more stubborn stains, you can use a power washer. Be careful not to overuse the nozzle, and follow the manufacturer’s instructions on the unit.

The best way to prevent these problems is to keep moisture off your deck. This can be done by improving drainage or moving potted plants around periodically. If you need to leave plants on your deck, ensure they have plenty of space and are supported by pot feet to improve air circulation. You can also install a drip system to divert moisture from the wood. This will stop the rot before it starts. This is important for any wooden deck, whether covered or not.

Concrete Repair – A Complicated Job That Requires Thorough Assessment and Selection of Materials

Whether the damage is cosmetic or structural, concrete repair products offer contractors more options than ever. New materials can create a strong bond, provide strength, and even disguise patching and cracks.

Concrete Repair

The key to any concrete repair is identifying the cause of the damage. This involves a thorough evaluation of the structure, destructive and nondestructive testing, and chemical and petrographic analysis of concrete samples. For professional help, contact Level Ground Excavation.

Concrete repair can be a complex project. Whether it’s reforming an edge for a residential concrete step, injecting repair material into a crack in a slab or replacing an entire section of sinking, sunken concrete, the job requires a thorough evaluation of the existing condition, determination of the causes of the deficiency and selection of appropriate repairs methods and materials. This assessment includes review of available design and construction documents, a structural analysis of the structure in its current deficient condition, destructive and nondestructive testing, visual inspections, abrasion tests, and chemical and petrographic testing of concrete samples.

It is important that the contractor clearly understand what the concrete problem is and determine the cause, whether it is a lack of adequate drainage, improper construction or ground movement. Incorrect identification will lead to a substandard result or a repair that fails prematurely.

For a partial-depth repair, chipping deteriorated concrete to expose sound and clean concrete is the first step. This is done with a lightweight 15 lb electric or pneumatic chipping hammer to avoid damaging the sound concrete that will remain in place.

A scratch test is also a vital part of the assessment process. A sharp, rough surface with an angular edge is ideal for the repair material to bond with. Surface preparation should be free of any oil, grease or paint that can prevent the new repair material from adhering to the concrete.

The most common sign that concrete needs repairing is when areas begin to look uneven. This is usually due to weather conditions or bad foundation work, and it’s essential that any concrete issues are addressed early on to prevent further damage.

When it comes to larger, more serious problems, concrete experts are required. A professional will be able to advise and recommend the right solution for the problem, from filling a small crack in a driveway to raising sunken sections of concrete with a product like PolyLevel. It is a noninvasive, quick and economical way to fill voids in concrete and lift it back to its original position, because it solves the root issue by injecting a polyurethane foam that compacts the soil.


The primary concern in concrete repair is that the material and structure being repaired bond correctly to the existing substrate. This requires adequate surface preparation of the concrete before any material is applied. The surface must be free from dirt, oil, grease and other contaminants that may interfere with a strong bond. It is also important to determine any underlying problems that need to be corrected in order for the repairs to last.

Depending on the type of repair material, the concrete should be prepared to achieve a suitable surface profile. This can be done by chemical cleaning, acid etching, mechanical preparation and other methods. The profile is important as the thickness of a repair can affect certain properties such as dry shrinkage, elastic modulus and thermal coefficients. Some materials cannot be used on deep repairs as they can develop internal stresses that can cause sag and spalling.

If a liquid bonding agent is to be used, the existing concrete should be dampened and allowed to dry to a tacky condition. The bonding agent can be painted on or sprayed on if desired, but direct application is better. It is important to follow the instructions for the bonding agent, as they can vary slightly from product to product.

It is a good idea to hire a professional contractor for concrete repairs. They will have the expertise and experience to ensure that the repairs are completed properly and will last. They will also be able to advise on preventative maintenance to avoid future damage.

Some concrete contractors have access to high-quality repair materials that are not available to the general public. These materials often include polymers that provide a stronger bond with concrete and add durability to the repairs. They can also reduce the time and cost of the repair process.

It is also important to make sure that the underlying problem is addressed when making concrete repairs. For example, if the concrete is cracked because it has settled over time, then it is best to use a lifting solution like polyurethane foam injections to solve the problem and prevent it from happening again.

Filling the Crack

When it comes to concrete repair, the goal is to restore structural integrity. Using a band-aid fix such as mixing a polymer-modified cement product with water and wiping it over cracks is not an effective or long-term solution. This type of quick fix will not stop active cracks from forming, it simply masks them until new tension causes them to expand further.

A much better approach is to remove all existing material from the cracked area and then use a high-strength, rapid set concrete patching material. The patching material should be mixed and troweled into the crack and then sanded down to a smooth surface. The sanding will also help to seal the crack and prevent water and other contaminants from seeping into the concrete once it’s dry.

The next step is to clean the area around the crack. This can be done by using a pressure washer or a brush with a damp rag. This step is necessary because the surface must be free of loose dirt and other debris that could keep the patching material from adhering to the concrete. It is also important to make sure the crack is completely dry, so it can be resealed with a concrete bonding sealant.

Before filling the crack, it is a good idea to prime the concrete with a masonry cleaner. This will ensure that the repair is well-bonded to the existing concrete and will not flake off in the future. The masonry cleaner can be purchased at most home improvement stores and should be used in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions.

Lastly, the crack should be cleaned with a power hose or brush to remove any remaining dirt, dust, or other contaminants that would prevent the patching material from adhering to concrete once it’s dried. This step is particularly important if the crack is in an exposed location.

When it comes to repairing slabs of concrete, many contractors prefer a technique called “crack stitching.” This involves drilling additional holes into the slab along the length of the crack and then using metal anchors (U-shaped bars) to bridge the crack from one end to the other. This method is more time consuming than other methods, but it is the best way to stabilize major cracks and prevent them from spreading further.


Before the concrete repair is applied, it’s important to make sure the crack is sealed. This is because it prevents moisture and other materials from seeping into the crack, causing more damage to the concrete. This also helps keep the crack from becoming a problem again in the future.

There are a number of different methods for sealing cracks in concrete. Some of these include:

Epoxy injection

This method involves injecting epoxy into the cracks, which then welds them together. This is a good option for structural repairs and can be used on active or dormant cracks. However, it isn’t suitable for cracks that are caused by movement of soil or water.

Concrete routing and sealing

This is a good choice for dormant cracks in concrete and is relatively simple. The crack is cut into a V shape and the area around the crack is cleaned to remove dirt or debris. Then, a plank is placed over the cracked area and the concrete repair material is spread evenly along the plank. This can be done with a trowel or a squeegee, depending on the type of product being used.

Concrete surface patching

This is another great choice for repairing dormant or active concrete cracks in buildings and structures. It is not recommended for structural repairs or for cracks caused by ground swell, water pressure or tree root growth. It is a very quick and easy solution to repair small surface cracks in concrete.

Sealing a concrete crack isn’t as complex as it might seem, and the benefits are many. A professional concrete contractor can help determine the best approach for a repair and guide preventative maintenance to avoid future damage. They can also provide advice on using the proper tools and materials for the job, which will ensure a long-lasting repair.