by Brian Sullivan
As the weather continues to improve we all enjoy spending more and more time outdoors. Residents of apartments with balconies and terraces are no exception to that rule. So now is a great time to make sure that the balconies and terraces are secure. Railings around the perimeter as well as the topside and underside of the balcony surfaces should be inspected.
Snow, freezing rain and ice can severely deteriorate the surface of concrete balconies and terraces. Water infiltration through the concrete decks can cause rust accumulation on the steel reinforcement within the concrete. Rust jacking will then cause cracks and spalls in the concrete particularly where insufficient cover exists. This causes significant concern at the balcony edges where the concrete is exposed on three sides and the potential for an unsafe condition from falling concrete is greatest. If this condition is identified early moderate repairs including installation of a new deck coating can prevent significant structural repairs down the road.
Balcony railings may have become loose or unstable over the winter due to deteriorated concrete around the railing posts and\or failure of the railing post anchors. The tragic death of Connor Donohue, this time last year, is a severe example of the risks associated with loose or damaged railings.
We recommend that all property owners and managers inspect all balconies and terraces as soon as possible. A visual inspection of the balcony surfaces and railing connections should be performed as well as physically checking the railings for stability. Additionally all residents with balconies and terraces should be asked to inspect the same and report any deficiencies immediately.
In addition to good maintenance practice; performing these inspections and any necessary repairs may help a building owner avoid violations from the NYC Department of Buildings. The DOB examined 850 buildings last year looking for potential unsafe conditions including the balcony deficiencies described above.
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