Steps of Biblical Proportions
By Steve Vacha
My wife recently came home from a Bible study and told me the steps to the main Jewish Temple in Jerusalem, are not consistent. They were purposely laid out in an irregular pattern to emphasize to the pilgrim to be mindful on their journey up to the Temple.
Many homes we inspect also have stairs of biblical proportions. Trouble is, we are often not in the state of mind of a religious pilgrim. Home owners might have grown used to an irregularity or weakness in a set of stairs, but a visitor might not recognize the problem and can trip and/or fall.
When we start ascending a set of stairs our brains register how far we have lifted our feet for the first few risers so that we start to unconsciously lift our feet a certain height for each subsequent step. That is why we tend to trip on stairs that have irregular riser heights. In new construction a city building inspector will fail a set of stairs that have riser heights that are irregular by more than ¼”.
This irregularity is often found at the front stoop stairwell. A stoop normally has footings and will not settle. The stairs to the stoop often do not have footings and will settle in time with the grade.
Also of concern are loose deck stairwell members. Wood is a natural material and will in time deteriorate and wear. Stair stringers can crack and support posts can settle.
Most home injuries occur due to falling, and falling from short distances. For many people a fall can be of great concern and a major life changer.
Deck stairwells can be replaced. Unsafe concrete stairs can be made safer. Mud jacking can often lift a concrete stairwell back to where they belong, eliminating irregular riser heights. Mud jacking is done by drilling several holes in the concrete and pumping a concrete mud slurry under the concrete with hydraulics which lifts a stairwell back up to where it should be.
We are a locally owned home inspection company serving the metro areas of Omaha and Lincoln, Nebraska.