Tips To Prevent Retaining Wall Failure

Posted on

Retaining walls are designed to prevent eroded soil from coming into your yard. A failing wall could let in soil into your compound, leading to uneven decks and outdoor living spaces. Regularly calling in a retaining wall contractor to check the structure for signs of failure such as tilting/bowing or cracking at the wall and adjacent floor can help prevent a disastrous collapse.

Luckily, retaining walls rarely crumble completely, but they can get fundamentally weak resulting in a section getting separated from the surrounding structure. In this article, you will learn two issues that could cause such failure and how to fix them so that your wall can remain sound for longer.

Inadequate reinforcement

Your retaining wall can develop cracks and crevices or even tilt slightly if it isn't properly reinforced at the base. The weight of withheld soil can sometimes overwhelm the existing supports, leading to failure.

A retaining wall contractor can be called in to examine the reinforcing size, location, and spacing. Typically, a concrete base can be added to add reinforcement to the wall on the compression side. The footing of the wall can also be extended by excavating the base and pouring a layer of concrete so as to reduce soil pressure exerted on the structure.

Drilled dowel pins inserted at the footing can also help transfer soil pressure from the wall, giving it more stability. If the wall is severely over-stressed, consider adding a concrete block anchor or tiebacks on the exposed face of the wall.

Saturated backfill

The pressure on your retaining wall could be excessive if the backfill behind it gets saturated by water, usually due to poor drainage around the stem of the wall. The problem can worsen if there is poor sloping that allows water to pound on the wall. Clay soil can be especially problematic, as it soaks up water and swells other than allowing water to seep into the ground.

To relieve pressure on the wall and prevent tilting or cracking, have your retaining wall contractor slope the surface of the backfill to drain water away from the structure. Grading the backfill surface often entails a removal of the backfill material which also helps reduce wall pressure.

Additionally, install drainage channels along the wall to intercept and drain away surface runoff. If clay soil was used to form the backfill, consider having it replaced with porous crushed rock so as to reduce water retention behind the wall and prevent clogging in the base-of-wall drainage channel.