Lightweight Concrete Deck Failure Not Uncommon

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Home Builder with Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 CSL#642819
http://actvra.in/Hzx

 

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 lightweight concrete deck Sacramento sinkingconcrete 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.

Sinking lightweight concrete deckAs 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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John McCormack
Albuquerque Homes Realty * www.AlbuquerqueHomes.com - Albuquerque, NM
AlbuquerqueHomes.com, Albuquerque Homes Realty

Good morning Tom -

You have provided another interesting and informative post on lightweight concrete failure not being uncommon.  We see this problem in many Condo complex communities.  I can't recall running into it in a home but condo's yes.  Good job on bringing a serious situation to light.

Have a great day out there my friend.

Sep 11, 2012 06:18 AM #1
Rainmaker
634,731
James Quarello
JRV Home Inspection Services, LLC - Wallingford, CT
Connecticut Home Inspector

I can have never recall seeing a deck or balcony constructed with a concrete surface like you show here in Connecticut. 

Sep 11, 2012 06:26 AM #2
Rainmaker
1,265,098
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

John - Thanks for the feedback. 

We occasionally see the lightweight concrete in some larger homes but not too often. Condos, apartments, and offices, all seem to have it.

Sep 11, 2012 06:39 AM #3
Rainmaker
1,239,557
Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

I have never seen that kind of a deck/balcony either!  What an odd way to attach a beam!  How long before the kind of failure you describe Tom?

Sep 11, 2012 06:41 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,265,098
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

James - I'm wondering why that is...

Maybe it have something to do with the amount of freezing in other parts of the country. The lightweight concrete is poured about 2" thick, maybe it can't handle to East Coast temporatures.

Sep 11, 2012 06:43 AM #5
Rainmaker
1,265,098
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Jay - You and James need to come visit us on the left coast.  :)

I meant to mention how long these decks last in the post, but forgot.

It has been my experience that the failures are happening about twenty years after the original construction. There was a boom in building in many areas 20-30 years ago, so the failures are pretty common now.

Sep 11, 2012 06:46 AM #6
Rainmaker
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Jay Markanich
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC - Bristow, VA
Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia

That is hardly thick enough for rebar to have any effect!  IF they use rebar!  It might be a screen that they put in there.  I would be afraid of that over time - your thoughts about temperatures may be right on too.  I don't know.

Sep 11, 2012 07:15 AM #7
Rainmaker
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Donald Hester
NCW Home Inspections, LLC - Wenatchee, WA
NCW Home Inspections, LLC

Tom, I have to laugh because I have seen this design. Must be a west coast thing ; ) At least that was not cantilevered, it could have much bigger issues.

Sep 11, 2012 10:10 AM #8
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Connie Harvey
Pilkerton Realtors - Brentwood, TN
Realtor - Nashville TN Real Estate

Tom, can't they use something stronger to support the concrete? doesn't really make sense to me when Plywood is so weak.

Sep 11, 2012 03:01 PM #9
Rainmaker
1,265,098
Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366
Dry Rot and Water Damage www.tromlerconstruction.com Mobile - 916-765-5366 - Placerville, CA
General Contractor, Dry Rot and Water Damage

Jay - There is no rebar in these floors.

Donald - I will have to check some past photos, I may have had a cantilevered lightweight concrete deck.

Connie - I guess they could, but plywood is pretty strong in this application. The problem arrises when the waterproofing fails and the wood rots.

Sep 12, 2012 12:51 AM #10
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Tom Arstingstall, General Contractor, Dry Rot, Water Damage Sacramento, El Dorado County - (916) 765-5366

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