Staircases serve an important function, and as such, they typically experience heavy usage over time. While some degree of wear and tear in your stairs is normal and relatively harmless, more serious signs of damage can potentially compromise the structural integrity of your stairs, threatening the safety of anyone who uses them.
Luckily, there are usually some key indications that something is amiss in your staircase, and the following signs can signal a need to repair or replace them.
1. Cracks in the treads or risers
If you have started seeing visible cracks in your stairs’ treads, which are the parts that you step on, or on the risers, which are the vertical parts that sits perpendicular to the treads, this is a sure sign of a need for a repair or replacement. Often, cracks in the treads or risers develop due to changes in humidity levels, but once they do, you need to address them promptly or risk compromising the safety of your family and guests.
2. A loose or detached handrail or post
The purpose of the handrail is to offer support to those climbing the stairs, but if the handrail wobbles, it can’t serve its intended purpose. In addition to being a safety concern, a loose or detached handrail may, too, constitute a code violation, so this is not something you’ll want to ignore. Loose staircase posts, too, can impact the stability of your stairs, but you may be able to fix this affordably by simply replacing the loose post.
3. Creaky steps
Creaky stairs are pretty common, and especially in older homes, but this doesn’t mean the annoying creaks are something you have to live with. Often, gaps between the treads and risers cause creaking, but if the gap is relatively small, you may be able to fix the noisy stair problem using nothing more than some wood glue to fill in the empty space.
4. Water damage
Water damage can substantially affect the structural integrity of your stairs, so if you notice warping or rotting along your stairs, which may be more common on basement or outside stairs, don’t ignore it. Generally, once your stairs accrue water damage, you will need to replace, rather than repair, them.
While small scratches on your stairs and the like are generally not cause for concern, if you see any of these four signs of damage, you’ll want to address them quickly. Failing to do so can cause the problem to worsen over time, and what could have been a relatively small expense may end up requiring a major investment.