Warning: you should check your deck after two recent porch collapses

As the summer ramps up, there’s a warning to take a peak under your porch.

In the past three weeks, there have been two porch collapses in Chicagoland. One in Highland Park and the other in Andersonville, and a local attorney says it can be pretty easy to tell if your deck is an accident waiting to happen.

Attorney Francis Patrick Murphy says you don't have to know the ins and outs of deck building to see shoddy construction. Nails -- and not lag bolts -- were holding up a porch that collapsed with 20 people on it Sunday in Andersonville.

“The ledger board was affixed to the wall using nails, which is totally outlawed in Chicago. A Chicago building inspector would've seen that and tagged it out immediately and that is an accident waiting to happen,” Murphy said.

But as we've seen recently, it doesn't take dozens of dancing people to make a poorly maintained or constructed deck fall.

“The wood rot would only exist after years of bad or no maintenance at all,” Murphy said.

Murphy, who is representing three members of the Powell family in Highland Park, says rotted wood caused the 19-year old porch they were on to fall on May 26th. They're now suing the homeowner who rented the unit for failing to maintain it. The fall resulted in fractures of the skull, torso and ankle.

Murphy says in the city of Chicago, porches and decks don't have to be inspected regularly. But you can and should pay someone to look at it.

“Without a doubt. There are a lot of porches built that way, improperly, that if they are properly inspected would be remedied. And that's why it's important if I was renting an apartment, I would tell the homeowner I want to have it inspected and I'd like to see the report,” Murphy said.

Murphy says since more people are getting outside these days, it's a good idea to give your deck a once over. Look for the lag bolts. Also, take note of any standing water that could lead to wood rot -- and keep in mind, it's best detected from under the deck.

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