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Prepare for the Winter

Things to do to keep the snow from deck damage

In the mist of winter, it’s hard not to look forward to spring, when the snow will melt and it will be time pull out the patio set, fire up the grill and relax with a cold beverage.

But what if winter leaves splintered, warped or faded boards will dull the thrill of thawing temperatures.

Frightening isn’t it, a little prep and post-winter deck maintenance will have the deck all set to host backyard barbecues in no time. Here’s a quick rundown on deck repair and how to avoid damage this winter.

Always be prepared

Three steps to avoid many of the problems caused by having snow sit your deck.

  1. Sweep away any dirt or debris before the first snowfall. Make sure to remove any leaves, pine needles or other organic materials from between deck boards.
  2. Remove any planters or pots. These typically have drainage holes that leave moisture between the pots and the deck’s surface.
  3. Wash the entire deck and clean off any mildew. Kill the mildew on deck using a mixture of water, oxygen bleach and liquid soap. Effective cleaning:-
    1. Use three cups of water to 1 cup of bleach and a few squirts of soap.
    2. Put the mixture into a spray bottle and spray any affected areas.
    3. Wait 20 to 30 minutes, then rinse with water. Repeat as necessary and use a plastic bristle brush for stubborn mildew patches.

This will limit moisture buildup and eliminate any pre-existing problems that go undetected under a blanket of snow.

Don’t over-shovel

It is tempting to remove large piles of snow to protect the deck from moisture, regular snow shoveling does more harm than good.

Improper snow shoveling could leave the deck with scrapes or gouges — and big deck repair bills in the spring. Shoveling is most needed when there is a need to create an exit route from back door, and snow gets higher than deck rails.

If chosen to shovel, always shovel in a path parallel to the deck boards, not perpendicular. Going crossways will catch the edge of a board and cause damage.

Never use a metal blade shovel on deck, because this will gouge out sections of wood or plastic. Lastly, don’t use an ice chipper — even a plastic one — on the deck. If need be to melt ice, go with pet-safe chemicals, which also will have the least impact on deck boards.

Dealing with deck repair

Despite best efforts, winter sometimes doesn’t play fair, and wood deck may end up damaged. More serious problems such as rotted boards or pest infestations, however, will require the assistance of a deck repair professional.

On average, homeowners spend around $1,500 to repair an entire deck after winter damage. This cost can go as low as $700 or as high as $3,000 depending on the material of deck and the extent of the problem. Termite damage and moisture rot are especially costly because the damage is typically spread over a larger area and may require foundation repair in addition to surface corrections.

Winter can be hard on a deck — but homeowners can do just as much damage through improper or too-vigorous cleaning.

Prepare for the winter and save decks from possible trouble.

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