How do you know when it’s time to repair or replace your retaining wall? Retaining walls are great for defining your garden or dividing the yard from your walkway or driveway or patio. Sometimes they suffer from problems that need repairs or replacement. We’ll look at why retaining walls fail and the signs you should watch out for.
Signs that your retaining wall needs to be replaced
It is common to see some cracking or leaning in a retaining wall. Generally it’s not a big concern and you can leave it as it is. Though it’s good to keep an eye for more serious signs that indicate it’s time to replace your retaining wall.
Bowing walls is a sign that your wall is experiencing more weight than it was designed to hold.
Leaning walls is a sign that your wall was not properly reinforced. This can happen if the footing is too small.
Crumbling walls is a sign that your wall was not properly constructed or not designed to hold the weight behind it.
Large, noticeable cracks is a sign that your retaining wall needs to be replaced.
Separation of part of the wall from the main structure is a sign that your wall might collapse. Depending on the severity, you’ll want to repair or replace it.
Leaking water is a sign of drainage problems. If you see water trickling at unexpected spots, you should have this fixed before it gets worse.
1. Material failure
Material failure is a common problem with retaining walls, and an inevitability with wooden retaining walls.
This is especially true in Maple Valley. We get an average of 57 inches of rain annually (while the nation’s average rainfall is 30 inches). This constant exposure to moisture in the soil makes wood susceptible to damage.
How to fix material failure
Repair with pressure-treated wood. Have a landscape design professional repair or rebuild the affected section with pressure-treated wood. For a longer lasting pressure treated wood, choose pine and fir. Pressure treated pine and fir lasts about 40 years. Western red cedar lasts 20 years.
Replace with masonry. Stone, brick, or concrete-block walls make great replacements as they are strong and long lasting.
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3. Inadequate Drainage
Water damage is a common problem with retaining walls. If water is not drained away from the barrier properly, it can seep into the stonework. The moisture can make the structure unstable and eventually crumble and fall.
Water can also make the soil heavier. This added weight can put a strain on the retaining wall, especially when it isn’t designed to handle the extra weight.
How to fix inadequate drainage
To relieve this, you can regrade the area or build a drainage system to lead the water out and away from the structure.
Backfill the retaining wall with material that drains easily. For example, using crushed and pea gravel for the backfill can also provide proper drainage.
4. Structural issues
Structural issues include lack of reinforcement and foundation footing problems. Without a sturdy foundation, your retaining wall risks the chance of cracking or even collapsing!
How to fix structural issues
Find a qualified landscaper to assess the issue. A site investigation will help find out what is right for the terrain, climate and soil conditions.
For example, a landscaper will properly compact the soil before building the wall. They will make sure the footing is deep enough to hold the weight of saturated soil and in some cases deeper than the frost line.
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In conclusion, if you notice any signs that your retaining wall is failing, contact Valley Property Services as soon as you can. Some problems can be repaired with simple solutions before it becomes more serious.
As Maple Valley’s expert landscapers, Valley Property Services will ensure that your retaining walls are functional and able to withstand Maple Valley’s rainfall!
Get in touch with us today to get your next project started.