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Checking the (porch) deck and Garage/workshop DIY safety

Deck inspections can be fairly simple, especially for decks that are brand new or recently refurbished.
But even a new deck should be checked at the beginning of the season to make sure that it's save to use.

A very nice porch deck

Here's a few things to watch out for:

Check the wood. Split or decaying wood (it may feel spongy or break off without splintering; these are signs of rot) is a definite trouble spot.
Another trouble spot is if the wood has any holes (this could be a symptom of insect infestation).

Are the railings loose? Grab and shake them to make sure they're solidly in place, providing ample support (balusters are the short pillars or columns that run perpendicular to the railings and the deck's walking surface; these should also be checked).

Check the ledger board (the weight-bearing board that connects the deck to the house). As you're checking this, examine the flashing that surrounds it (flashing prevents the moisture buildup that causes rot). The main issue with the flashing is that mud and debris can become stuck between the flashing and the exterior wall of the home. Clear away any such debris; then seal the overlapping areas with caulk.

Over time, the gap between the ledger board and the house may widen; if this is the case, simply tighten the bolts.

Check the surface to make sure there's no mildew buildup (the elements can be rough on a deck); power-wash any areas where the mildew has started to accumulate. Once the deck has been power-washed, allow it to dry before applying any additional layers of finish.
Bear in mind that different deck materials may require certain types of cleaners (consult with the company who built your deck or a local home improvement specialist).

Inspect the support posts; they should be firmly connected to the beams below the deck floor.
Any loose connections between the support posts and the beams should be tightened.
Replace any bolts that need replacing.

Garage/Workshop DIY Safety

As more homeowners perform their own renovations and other home improvement projects, many are installing state-of-the-art workshops and transforming garages into DIY havens.
Here's a few safety tips when working in these areas:

Before working with any power tools, DIY “newbies” should read the owners' manuals and operating instructions thoroughly.
Some home improvement retailers may offer classes in tool usage and in various home improvement projects.
And also consult with home improvement professionals regarding proper tool usage (for example, do not use tools for purposes other that what the tool was intended to do).

Watch out for children and pets; make sure they're not in the workshop or garage unattended (keep items out of reach or locked up).

Be careful when wearing loose clothing (you can still be comfortable, but dress appropriately).

Wear safety gear for the eyes, ears and breathing; consider goggles, earphones and dust masks when working.

Feeling sick or fatigued? Taking medication? Never work with machinery; just one moment's distraction can cause an injury.
Never surprise anyone who's working with power tools and keep any unnecessary people out of the workshop or garage.

Don't have too many power cords laying around; if they're pulled, sharp or heavy objects can be dragged off of tables and workbenches. And they're easy to trip over!

Try to make the workshop/garage as comfortable as possible (preventing muscle strains or repetition injuries). Is the work table at the right height? Is a stool or chair available for sitting breaks? Are there rubber mats on the floor to reduce standing fatigue?

Sources: “”How to check your deck for problems”- by MetroServices-The(Sunday) Vindicator, June 29, 2014 and “Practice garage and workshop smarts”-by MetroServices-The (Sunday) Vindicator, July 13, 2014

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