Nails are not an acceptable way of attaching a ledger to the building, because they can pull out. I don't have any statistics to quote, but this is probably the most common cause of deck collapses. If you look at a deck ledger and all you can see are nails holding it in place, it should be addressed. This is one of the most common deck problems that home inspectors find, and the repair is usually an easy fix.
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Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections, Minneapolis, Minn., is a second-generation ASHI Certified Inspector whose experience with home remodeling and construction began at age four when he helped his father steam wallpaper. He has worked for Structure Tech since 1997 and joined ASHI in 2004. Visit his blog at www.structuretech1.com/blog/.
Note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Zillow.