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3 Signs Your Retaining Wall Is Failing

Failing Retaining Wall

Failing Retaining Wall
Deep crack in old brick wall – concept image

Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to be more current with today’s various practices for retaining walls, and landscaping architecture.

If you moved into a home with a pre-existing retaining wall, or your retaining wall has been around for a handful of years, you may start to see signs of deterioration before you recognize them – or recognize how serious they are. -But whether you call it terracing or retaining, they hold back a lot of dirt, and a collapsing retaining wall can cause a lot of damage. This is especially true in places like California and others built on hillsides and slopes.

What is a retaining Wall

Retaining walls are an important part of any landscaping project – they can help to prevent soil erosion, support slopes and can even be used to create beautiful gardens. However, before you start building a retaining wall, there are a few things you need to know.

First, you need to determine if you need a retaining wall. If you have a pre-existing retaining wall, you may not need to do anything. However, if you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to decide what type of retaining wall is best for your needs.

There are many different types of retaining walls, and the best one for you will depend on the size and slope of your property. There are many different options available, and the best choice for you will depend on your budget and the look you’re going for.

If you have a retaining wall, you want to pay attention to its condition. Signs of a failing retaining wall should mean immediate care. It’s one of those things that only gets costlier as the problem evolves.

Your Retaining Wall Needs Help

Retaining walls are a great way to add both function and beauty to your landscape. They can be used to create level areas for entertaining or gardening, or to simply add some extra interest to your yard. Unfortunately, retaining walls can also be susceptible to failure. Here are a few signs your retaining wall might be in trouble:

Crack formation: Cracks are one of the most common signs of structural damage in retaining walls. They can be caused by a number of factors, including Settlement, poor drainage, and overloading. If you notice any cracks in your wall, it’s important to have them assessed by a professional as soon as possible.

Leaning or bulging: Another sign that your retaining wall might be failing is if it starts to lean or bulge outward. This is usually caused by inadequate footing or backfill, or by too much weight being placed on the wall. If you see these signs, it’s important to contact a professional immediately.

Soil erosion: Soil erosion is another common problem with retaining walls. It can be caused by a number of factors, including poor drainage, inadequate footing, and excessive moisture levels in the soil. If you notice any soil erosion around your wall, it’s important to have it assessed by a professional so that proper repairs can be made.

When it’s time to look at your options, below are three signs to look for when assessing the condition of your retaining wall.

Your Retaining Wall Starts to Tilt

Poor soil conditions or a badly constructed retaining wall often begins to show signs of stress by starting to tilt outwards at the top. If the wall is made out of railroad tie or other organic material, this could be caused by deterioration or wood rot. If it’s poured concrete or stone, it could be that the footing was too small to begin with, producing a smaller-than-necessary foundation for the wall.

Another could be the soil. Retaining walls need to have areas that let the pressure from water flow away from the wall. This could be through draining weeps, or through porous backfill such as gravel. Standing water puts incredible pressure on the walls, causing them to tilt.

Your Retaining Wall Starts to Separate from Adjacent Walls

If you have more than one side to your retaining wall, such as when the wall wraps around one side of the yard or the other, you may see one side start to separate from another. Much like when it starts to tilt, this is often a sign of being badly constructed.

Walls take a lot of pressure, from the constantly eroding/sliding ground to water build up and more. If the weight it was designed to take was miscalculated, you can end up with the wall being pushed away from adjacent sections. Again, poor drainage or an inadequate connection to the adjacent walls could also be a culprit.

Your Retaining Wall is Crumbling and Cracking

If your retaining wall is starting to crumble or it has cracks appearing, this is cause to immediately have it fixed. A crumbling wall, especially if the crumbling/cracking is wide spread, is a safety hazard. In this case, the wall may have a heavier load behind it than initially thought.

A crumbling concrete wall is often due to inadequate or improperly mixed concrete, or poor-quality rebar.

Repairing Your Retaining Walls

If your retaining walls are showing signs of deterioration, call Tamate Landscaping. We’ll review and let you know what needs to be done. Don’t let unnecessary damage occur to your retaining walls, property and plants. Use these signs as a guideline, and make sure your backyard landscape stays pristine.

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