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Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

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  • Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

    Just got our above-ground pool removed, was thinking of refurbishing pool deck as it provides street screening but some of the screw piles are leaning.
    The deck is 10 years old, was built by the previous owners (I suspect no professional was involved). Clay soil.

    Is this degree of leaning "fine"?
    Is this something that we can correct ourselves without touching the remaining frame too much?
    Should I just tear the deck down and put up a stand-alone privacy screen?

    Thanks very much for your time.
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  • #2

    Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

    As a wise man once said, "that boy's not right". I would suggest that the deck needs to be lifted off, the original contractor come back and re-do their install. Actually I'm thinking that may be a warranty claim.

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    • #3

      Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

      Have you put a level on the deck? Is it possible the screw piles were never plumb? Is it solid to walk on? Have you checked with the city to see if a permit was issued and inspection done when it was built? I wouldn't waste time looking for the contractor, especially if you think it was a DIY job ten years ago, doubt the work had a ten plus year warranty.
      scooby074 likes this.

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      • #4

        Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

        If it isn't rotten and isn't wobbly it probably isn't going anywhere. You could shore it up with posts on mud blocks for peace of mind. The big problem i see with those screw posts is the narrow diameter. You screw down into the ground with a fairly big augur on a skinny post. That large augur stirs up the soil around that skinny pole and there isn't anyway to tamp that riled up earth around it. Then you build a deck on them with a fair amount of weight and before that loose earth around that post ever tightens up on its own they can start to leaning one way or another in that stirred up soil.

        Even when i see people digging post holes and putting down cones there isn't much room to try and tamp around the cones.

        I dug the holes by hand for my two tier deck. I went down 4’ and created a flat bottom and tamped to well with a 2x . I then set the cone on the bottom and put 4 or 5” of gravel around them and tamped it well, checked for plumb again and repeated the procedure until i reached the top. I only needed them an inch or two above ground level. I mixed the premix in a wheel barrel one bag at a time and i had a container marked out with the exact amount of water recommended for a bag of premix. After each pour into the cone i went down into the cement with a pole to make sure the cement went where it was supposed to and proceeded to the top and installed my post saddle to finish it off. I used 10” dia cones. Build a good foundation and it will follow you / build a poor one and it will follow you up too. Like with house it is easier to replace a bad roof then it is to replace a bad foundation.
        Last edited by hoeeee; 05-03-2021, 05:21 PM.
        Wayne

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        • #5

          Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

          The lean on those makes me nervous to the point where I'd get a professional opinion. Who knows? They may be fine, but things could go sideways (literally) in a hurry if something slips. I would want some reassurance.

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          • #6

            Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

            If the deck is solid and plumb after 10 yrs I wouldn’t mess with it. The price to replace It now would be brutal. As another has said, the piles my not have been plumb to begin with.
            ThePracticalPeasant likes this.
            Erik

            Canada's Island Paradise - Prince Edward Island

            Proud member of the Wadkin Blockhead Club

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            • #7

              Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

              If the deck doesn't move at all when you have folks on it I would venture to say it's safe and I would be more interested in covering up those posts. That being said - I agree with drzaius, those posts make me feel "queasy". Steel is strong, crazy strong and I don't think the posts would bend, but I would be concerned about how well they are attached to the decking and how well they are anchored into the concrete.

              The forces that these are engineered for expect that the weight is applied vertically, with some minor horizontal vector due to wind or being a few degrees off vertical etc. It looks to me like a significant amount of force is being applied horizontally and that could be a problem.

              With all those anchor points it will likely fail slowly. It is also not that tall. If that was a 10 foot off the ground deck I wouldn't walk on it, under it, or beside it. That deck is only a few feet off the ground though, if it fails it's not going to fall far.

              With lumber prices as they are, I'd just leave it, but I wouldn't put anything crazy heavy on it (like a hot tub).

              “By All means read what the experts have to say. Just don’t let it get in the way of your woodworking.” John Brown (1932–2008), Welsh stick chairmaker

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              • #8

                Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

                If done by the previous homeowner ..... are you sure they're really screw posts and not just pipe set into ... maybe concrete ... or less ?

                .... just curious ....

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                • #9

                  Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

                  Screw posts when installed properly do not disturb the soil. They screw in. They have a torque monitor and screw them until a certain torque is met. Then they are in solid soil. They should not be moving.
                  It does not look safe to me. I would get a professional engineer opinion.
                  drzaius and John Bartley like this.

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                  • #10

                    Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

                    Originally posted by Joed View Post
                    Screw posts when installed properly do not disturb the soil. They screw in. They have a torque monitor and screw them until a certain torque is met. Then they are in solid soil. They should not be moving.
                    It does not look safe to me. I would get a professional engineer opinion.
                    This ^^^ was my first thought also .... followed by "was the pool leaking"? If it was, then the soil can become water-soaked and loosen up quite a bit.

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                    • #11

                      Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

                      Recycle the lumber for the privacy screen

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                      • #12

                        Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

                        Id just put blocks under there for your safety and then use a car jack to take the weight off so you can get them straight, You can probably add more if you like.
                        I'd want the deck unlevel to help the rain off if it's a plywood deck.

                        when you are thinking of strength, think about this , if you had a garden party and went out to buy stuff, then someone called everyone onto the deck that could fit for a group picture, that might be what? 30 people? would it take that? If not it's not strong enough. yes the event is an unusual circumstance, It should be designed for that. If not then you can be liable for a lot of injuries at once.

                        If you just dont want it to fall, a stack of blocks might even do to be sure its safe. or changing the grade, cut the posts shorter maybe. an inspector would likely specify that you need somethign like sona tubes set in a certain distance, or something..

                        I think if you look into codes, you may find a measurement where the fall is considered. It may not apply if it's for example 6 inches from the ground. you can check or ask others but there is a minimum before you need steps to the porch, and railings. maybe it's 14 or 17 inches or something , dont quote me on it.. and the railings have codes, for example one is that it must not be "climbable" so little kids dont climb railings.. it looks like some of the railings are climbable and some are not. my guess is it is built by a homeowner and not inspected or engineered. that doesn't mean you can't make it safe.

                        first thing I'd do is go with a screwdriver and stab the wood wherever you think there may be rot and if it feels like a sponge then that part is garbage. check anywhere you think the planks may be collecting water from runoff or where planks are sistered and not drying between. no sense trying to save rotten wood. if it's not rotten I'm sure you can use it and bolster it appropriately. If you want to meet code you can pull a permit. That's your decision.


                        MartyFromKingston likes this.

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                        • #13

                          Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

                          Originally posted by Joed View Post
                          Screw posts when installed properly do not disturb the soil. They screw in. They have a torque monitor and screw them until a certain torque is met. Then they are in solid soil. They should not be moving.
                          It does not look safe to me. I would get a professional engineer opinion.
                          Im with him. The piles were not put in right or something happened. Get them back under warranty to look at them. Either they need to be redriven or taken right out and reinstalled. There should not push over like that.
                          https://www.facebook.com/gregsreinventions2016/

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                          • #14

                            Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

                            If you get a professional engineer's opinion, I will pretty well guarantee you that he will declare it unsafe. Because now his reputation is on the block.
                            I could never be happy with a deck built like that.
                            Cheers,

                            Tim


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                            • #15

                              Re: Is my deck safe - leaning screw piles

                              Thank you for taking the time to respond and give your advice, much appreciated.
                              I agree it doesn't look right and won't get any better with time. I'd rather tear it down and recycle what I can to build a privacy screen than spend money re-building and time maintaining this deck. Plus we might sell this house down the road and wouldn't want to pass this on to new owners.

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