PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Inspectors say it was a classic combination of a party and an aging deck, when one collapsed on the back of a McCandless home Sunday.

“The inspector saw that it was probably the original deck built back in 1984 and it was showing typical signs of old age,” said McCandless Land Use Administrator Bruce Betty.

When you’re talking about a 29-year-old deck — that means rusting lag bolts, and aging support joists.

“And it just gives eventually,” Betty said.

In this case, the lag bolts failed and the portion of the deck closest to the house dropped.

Fortunately for the 12 people on the deck at the time, no one was seriously hurt – most bump bruises and minor cuts.

With our hilly terrain, decks provide a place of respite where back yards are unusable or non-existent –an extension of our living space.

“Most of us could look at the underside of a deck all day long and not have a clue what we are looking at so the key is to get a building inspector or someone who makes their living building decks to look at it for you. the key though is when do you do it,” Betty said.

The materials of a deck do wear with weather and age and often give tell-tale signs it’s time for a safety check, like movement it didn’t used to have or:

“If you feel that the deck is beginning to sag or you see signs of age in it have somebody professionally come and take a look at it,” Betty said.

John and Cindy O’Neill headed off any structural problems when they noticed esthetic changes in their original deck.

“And the wood was beginning to splinter the screws were beginning to pop, and the wood was getting course,” Cindy O’Neill said.

Their contractor had a focused priority that the rebuilt deck be able to support any weight the couple put on it.

And that’s the key, because, like yesterday, most failures happen during parties when the deck is put under an unusual load and fails.

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