As summer approaches

Home Inspector with Maryland Home Inspection Services, Inc.

Maryland Home Inspection Services and all of our Home Inspectors wanted to give you a few safety tips before summer.  As summer approaches, the International Code Council is urging homeowners to take the time to check their outdoor areas for potential safety hazards. Proper inspections now can help to keep your family and friends safe in the future. The International Code Council, a membership organization dedicated to building safety and fire prevention, develops the codes used to construct residential and commercial buildings, including homes and schools. Most U.S. cities, counties and states that adopt codes choose the International Codes developed by the International Code Council.

Decks and Balconies
Balconies can be at risk of collapsing if they are not properly constructed or if they are old. A common safety hazard occurs when balconies are nailed to buildings rather than being attached with the proper anchors or bolts. Nails are a poor method for attaching balconies to buildings because they work their way loose over time. Other safety hazards to look for are:

*Split or rotting wood
*Wobbly handrails or guardrails
*Loose, missing or rusting anchors, nails or screws
*Missing, damaged or loose support beams and planking
*Poor end support of the balcony deck, joists or girders
*Excessive movement of the balcony when walked on
*Swaying or unstable balconies

Building or repairing to code, which requires a building permit and an inspection, will help ensure that the balcony is safe. The International Codes specify the amount of weight a balcony is required to support. However, be careful not to allow the balcony to become overcrowded. If the people on the structure have difficulty moving about, the balcony could be exceeding its capacity.

Grilling on or near combustible areas can be a fire hazard. It not only puts your family and visitors at risk, but, especially in condos and apartment buildings, can put your neighbors in danger as well. The most common grilling hazards are open flames and heat generated in the grill base that can be transferred to the wood of a balconies or the home's siding, causing a fire. When grilling, follow these safety tips:

*Place the grill away from siding, deck railings and out from under eaves and overhanging branches
*Periodically remove grease or fat buildup
*Use only proper starter fluid and store the can away from heat sources
*Check propane cylinder hoses for leaks before use
*Do not move hot grills
*Dispose of charcoal properly, keeping ash containers outside and away from combustible construction

*Check with your local building or fire department to see what is required by code where you live

The International Fire Code prohibits the use of charcoal and gas grills and other open burning devices on combustible balconies or within 10 feet of combustible construction. There are exceptions for certain homes and where buildings, balconies and decks are protected by an automatic sprinkler system.

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