Balcony and Terrace Test: Make Sure Yours Are Safe

With warmer weather quickly approaching, the desire to spend time with friends and family outdoors arises in cities across America. In many instances, balconies are a way that people can socialize outdoors and are commonly used in the upcoming spring and summer seasons. While socializing with friends and families and enjoying the warm weather out on a balcony seems worry-free, there are factors to consider when preparing your balcony for social gatherings. First and foremost, the importance of ensuring that all balcony repairs are done and meet the building’s code is most important. While building managers pay for parts of the repair (if you are unsure of how your building allocates such funds, consult your building manager or landlord), there are fees to cover things such as reparations of the paint and metal finishes of the balcony that come at the renter’s expense. A professional should properly inspect balconies, fire escapes and any emergency exit or fire ladders at least once a year, ideally after the winter season has subsided. With balconies and their escape ladders being made of various metals and concrete, extended exposure to water (especially as it freezes and melts) can cause erosion and damage to the balconies and their ability to maintain their structure under pressure. It should also be noted that any signs of weathering in the concrete, such as cracks, chips, or uneven surfaces should be observed and maintained properly to ensure that the balcony continues to meet the building’s inspection standards. Often times, there are fire escape ladders either attached to the balcony itself or close by which also require attention and upkeep in order to be accredited by inspectors. Being predominantly metal, these fixtures can become weathered, rusted, and eroded after a long winter, especially in areas that experience high amounts of accumulation. The best time to ensure that these fire escapes are up to standard is after the winter freeze has subsided and before any springtime festivities hosted within your property begin. By inspecting these fixtures early, the tenant(s) are aware of the level of safety that they can offer their guests in the instance of a fire or other event that requires an outdoor escape. The inspection should focus on the sustainability of the fixture(s) itself as well as the quality of the metal and the connectors (screws, bolts, etc.) that hold the parts together. The most important thing to consider when maintaining balconies and outside escape fixtures is the timing of getting them repaired. If it is noticed that something is unstable or showing signs of weakening, it should be handled as soon as possible as opposed to put off until it is too late. Whether it be a crack in the concrete or a loose screw that makes the protective railing a little shaky, these aspects should be reviewed by an inspector and be maintained properly as soon as possible. The failure to maintain such fixtures can result in hefty fines or injuries to you or loved ones. When planning outdoor balcony events this season, make sure that your balcony and exterior fire escape routes are up to current inspection standards so that you can ensure that the time you spend with your company is stress-free and safe this season!

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