Back in 2010 I wrote a blog post detailing one of the most common deck defects that I find, which is improper joist hanger nails. The issue detailed in that blog post was the use of 1-½" nails in places where full-size 10d nails are supposed to be used. The image below shows the difference between these two nails.

Joist Hanger Nail Comparison

The details on improper joist hanger nails

It's acceptable to use these shorter nails to fasten the joist hanger directly into the ledgerboard, but most joist hangers also require nails to be driven at a 45-degree angle through the joist and then into the ledgerboard. When short nails are used at the joist, they don't make it into the ledgerboard, so no support is added.

Nails in joist hanger

The easiest way to determine if short nails were used at this location is to look underneath the joists. In most cases there will be a few joists that aren't butted up tight to the ledgerboard, and the tips of the nails will be visible if the short nails were used:

Decks - short nails at joist hanger labeled

The other way to tell is to simply pull a nail out. When the right nails are used, they're really tough to get out. When the wrong ones are used, they come out pretty easily; I just use a mini pry-bar that I carry around in my tool pouch to pry a short nail out.

Mini Pry Bar

What to do when this defect is found

The reason for my update on this blog post is that the largest manufacturer of joist hangers, Simpson Strong-Tie, has put out a letter giving direction on how to correct this particular defect. In short, the fix is to remove the short nails going into the joist and install Simpson's #9×2½" SD Connector screws.

Short joist hanger nail repair

Click the following link to see the full document: Repair of LUS Joist Hangers Installed with 10dx1-½" Nails. This document also lists the new calculated load capacities, which I can't imagine myself ever using as a home inspector. I leave that stuff up to the engineers.

Is this defect a big deal? No, probably not… but as you can see, the repair isn't a big deal either. For an average deck, the repair will probably take a $20 box of screws and about an hour of someone's time.

Author: Reuben SaltzmanStructure Tech Home Inspections

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About Reuben Saltzman

Reuben is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Sharlene has worked with Structure Tech since 2000 and Reuben has been contributing to her blog since 2008.

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