Lightweight Concrete Deck Failure
The most common form of second story decking in apartment communities in the Sacramento Region is lightweight concrete poured over a plywood base. The concrete surface is a low maintenance surface that will typically last a few decades. Over time the lightweight concrete decking will fail, and eventually be in need of repair or replacement.
The failure is usually not the lightweight concrete itself initially; it is usually the result of the wood rotting below. When the plywood or supports start to rot the concrete will crack and the deck will quickly begin to fall apart and become a injury risk.
This photo shows how a deck can look when it has begun to sink as a result of a rotting support beam. The concrete is supported at the building perimeter, but the beam that supports the span has started to sink as a result of wood rot at the metal hanger in the stucco wall. Since the fibers in the wood beam have weakened the beam continues to sink until it can find strength. Over time the beam slowly sinks.
As you can see the damage is visible from the top also. Not only has the concrete gotten a more aggressive slope, but the concrete has cracks as a result of the shifting wood beam. The design of this deck has also created a railing safety hazard. The 3-4 inch drop in the decking has weakened the strength of the railing. If someone were to stumble toward the railing, the railing may not support the force of a human pushing against it.
Whether the lightweight concrete decking is in Sacramento or anywhere else in the country, it needs to be corrected. The damaged materials must be removed and replaced with new, solid building materials. Contact a qualified general contractor in your area for a professional opinion about your lightweight concrete deck.
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