Collapsing deck case study (C) D Grudzinski D Friedman Porch & Deck Ledger Flashing Errors Cause Leaks & Rot

  • DECK FLASHING LEAKS, ROT- CONTENTS: How to find & fix leaks & mistakes at deck, balcony, or porch flashing. Field photos show rot damage leading to deck collapse caused by deck flashing omission & building leaks & rot . Deck & Porch Construction Details for Safety and Durability. Poor Construction Details and Improper Connections Can Lead to Dangerous Collapse of Decks and Porches
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the cause, inspection, detection & repair of rotted deck components & structures

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Deck flashing errors & deck collapse & deck/balcony flashing repair advice: here we provide a case study of the effects of missing or improper deck connections and deck flashing details leading to structural movement, risk of imminent collapse, rot and building leaks at the deck ledger board and at the building to which a deck was attached.

We include an explanation & illustrations showing how to install or repair flashing at the intersection of a deck or balcony when water can not be allowed to pass below that structure.

Our page top photo shows a rotting, collapsing residential deck whose deck ledger was separating from the building, threatening imminent collapse. Readers will also see that the deck railings were unsafe (open) and that no building flashing was installed.

This residential deck was very unsafe and should not be walked-on nor should people stay below it as it could collapse at any moment. This photograph and other photographs and text in this article were provided by ASHI home inspector David Grudzinski.

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Dangerous Rot & Collapse Risk When a Deck is Not Properly Flashed
& When a Deck was Not Properly Secured to the Building

Collapsing deck case study (C) D Grudzinski D Friedman

[Click to enlarge any image]

Photographs and text about this rotting, collapsing deck case study were provided by David Grudzinski, a professional home inspector in Cranston, RI.

What Happens if the Builder Omits Proper Flashing & Waterproofing at a Deck or Balcony Ledger Board

The deck shown at page top and in Mr. Grudzinski's photographs below was built in Tiverton RI without a deck inspection or building permits.

The deck was not properly flashed to shed water away from sheathing. The deck platform was also not bolted to the house for safety (and to meet building code requirements).

Mr. Grudzinski's photo (left) shows the collapsing deck from below. Notice that the inspector knew better than to spend time standing below this dangerous structure.

Because building flashing was omitted when the deck was built, water leaked behind the deck, rotting the building sheathing to the point of disintegration.

The nails, which were the only means of fastening the deck to the building, then pulled away from the house. See Deck & Porch Connections: Ledger Boards for a description of proper deck-to-building connections and fasteners.

Carpenter ants had also infested the rotten wood, and water was leaking into the building basement as we show in additional photographs below.

As you can see, the deck was falling away from the house and sinking. The sheathing was exposed to the elements, and was rotten beyond repair.

Water was actively leaking into the basement and growing mold and mushrooms. The entire wall section 25 'x 8' needed a tear down and reconstruction, as well as the deck itself. The structural portion of the wall studs and sill plate were also rotten at this home.

Building Leaks & Water Damage from Omission of Proper Flashing & Waterproofing at a Deck or Balcony

Collapsing deck case study (C) D Grudzinski D Friedman

This was the interior view of the wall inside behind the leaky, rotten, insect-infected, collapsing exterior deck.

The structural members were rotten beyond repair, and sheathing was deteriorated and crumbling (oriented strand board sheathing).

Mold and fungus were growing on the studs and sheathing.

Water was leaking into the basement and adding to the moisture level in the building, risking other hidden moisture or mold problems as high as in the building's attic and roof structure as moisture tends to move upwards in a building on convection air currents.

This entire problem could have been prevented with 25 feet of flashing, and $5.00 worth of lag bolts. See Deck Flashing at Building for a description of proper flashing at the meeting of a deck or balcony to a building wall.

The repair cost for this home, just associated with damage caused by improper deck construction, stands at $10,000.00 to replace the damaged wall and deck. Mold clean up and carpenter ant treatment will also be required.

But the most important and immediate concern with this deck was that the deck was unsafe. Someone walking on the deck could precipitate its immediate and sudden collapse, leading to serious injury. Deck Collapse Case Study includes additional photos of improper connections between a residential deck and the building that led to a catastrophic deck collapse.

Examples of How Missing Deck Flashing Leads to Rot and Leaks & Invites Insect Pests, Holes in the Building, Other Damage

Collapsing deck case study (C) D Grudzinski D Friedman

Here is a close up of the hole in building sheathing shown in the lower right of the photograph just above.

As you can see, the 2x4 wall stud was rotten half way through, and the 7/16" OSB sheathing was soft and crumbling.

At the time of the home inspection that found these conditions, this house was 9 years old. Even the pressure treated sill plate was rotten.

Also see DECK COLLAPSE Case Study (collapse of a new, "code approved" deck)

Reader Question: how to fix concrete porch-wall flashing leak into below-ground storage area

Information about leaky flashing at junction of concrete porch to house wall: Here is a picture of the front of the house. Note that the overhang provides some protection. The house has cement siding, which is attached to 1x4 strapping. The strapping rests on 1 inch of foam and is anchored to the OSB sheathing. The OSB is covered with Tyvek Commercial D. All seams are taped on the OSB and foam. - S.K. 11/7/2014

Areas of leaks along abutment of concrete porch to house (C) InspectApedia SK

This where most of the water enters the house [blue arrows]. It is a narrow section of porch that is fully exposed to the elements. We are in [deleted], so the weather is not extreme.

Areas of leaks along abutment of concrete porch to house (C) InspectApedia SK

In my posts, I proposed

  1. removing two to three rows of siding
  2. and cutting back to the OSB.
  3. Then using a flashing membrane to cover the gap.
  4. The Tyvek would overlap the membrane.
  5. The foam, strapping, and siding would be reinstalled.

Whatever material I used would need to be durable and capable of adhering to OSB and cement.

Areas of leaks along abutment of concrete porch to house (C) InspectApedia SK

I am less concerned about the rest of the porch. The overhang from the second story does a pretty good job of keeping things dry below.

Areas of leaks along abutment of concrete porch to house (C) InspectApedia SK

This photo shows the area directly underneath the short section of front porch. The concrete slab rests on metal pan material. Most of the water enters where you see the light fixture [red arrow].


For this installation to work it looks as if you need L-shaped flashing that extends up behind the lower course of siding (and under any housewrap) for its vertical portion, and that extends out onto the upper (exposed) surface of the concrete walking surface (that forms a roof over the area below).

[Click to enlarge any image]

Porch wall-floor flashing details to avoid leaks into space below (C) Daniel Friedman

1. Remove the lower two courses of siding - with care so as to permit re-use. You may need to remove more siding for working space.

2. Clean and seal the concrete to house wall juncture with high quality silicone caulk.

3. Slice the housewrap if needed, horizontally, then install L-shaped aluminum or copper flashing along the exposed length of this patio-to-house- abutment.

I'd like to see 6" or more of vertical height, higher as needed if you have deep snow in your area.

The bottom of the "L" shape should be slightly open - that is bent to less than 90 degrees so that when you install the flashing onto the sidewall the bottom flashing base that is in contact with the concrete surface will be snug and neat (and will of course cover the caulk in step 2).

I'd like to see 3" of horizontal L-flashing along this surface.

This installation will redirect any wall leakage (such as wind-blown rain penetrating the siding) out on top of the concrete rather than behind it and into the space below.

Watch out: this repair will only work if the house wrap and window flashing higher on the wall are all properly installed.

Provided the concrete it itself sloped down away from the house this design should work well.

Send me photos of the job as described if you can and I may be able to comment further.

Watch out: even with this repair, it is important that the ground surface also drains away from this structure or you may find water ultimately leaking into the underground storage area through its outer foundation wall.

See the sketch above. I note that the old, improperly-routed flashing (that sends water below the concrete slab and into the storage area) can be left in place as the combination of (presumably) intact housewrap and properly placed L-flashing will direct any water penetrating the wall back out onto the top of the concrete walking surface.

And it'd be hell trying to get the old improper flashing out anyway.


Continue reading at DECK FLASHING - Best Practices Guide, or select a topic from closely-related articles below, or see our complete INDEX to RELATED ARTICLES below.


Or see DECK COLLAPSE Case Study


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DECK FLASHING LEAKS, ROT at - online encyclopedia of building & environmental inspection, testing, diagnosis, repair, & problem prevention advice.


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