Signs Of A Failed Retaining Wall And What To Do About It

February 3, 2022

Signs Of A Failed Retaining Wall And What To Do About It

Although retaining walls are designed to endure harsh weather conditions and last for a long time, they do require careful maintenance and checkups from time to time to ensure they are kept in good condition. A retaining wall is like a rock wall that supports the soil and prevents it from sliding. You would have commonly seen such walls on the roadside, especially around mountainous areas that are prone to land and rock sliding.

Such retaining walls are built to withstand hundreds and thousands of kilos of weight. Thus, high-quality and strong materials have to be used for their longevity.

However, these walls degrade over time due to several issues and require rebuilding or maintenance of the original walls. If a retaining wall is unable to give the support it should, it means there is a problem with it, and you need to maintain or build it again.

So, how do you analyze a retaining wall’s condition? Well, some signs might help you determine the condition of the wall. This blog post mentions some common signs of a bad or degrading retaining wall and what you can do about it.

It Starts To Tilt

One of the most common signs of a bad retaining wall is that it will start to tilt, especially from the top. This sign is mostly noticed in the rock walls built on one side of the yard or road with more soil pressure.

Tilting walls create gaps which result in water buildup. Considering the weight and estimating the right pressure values is necessary in this case.

If there is a miscalculation in the weight value during the wall’s construction, it will cause tilting. This leads to it pushing away the wall and from the adjacent sections of the wall. The result is that the wall build is not regular in shape and doesn’t withstand the pressure.

It Is Cracked

Another visible sign of a poor retaining wall is that it is cracked. Bulging and cracking are easily visible and must not be taken lightly. It no longer prevents the soil from sliding and thus, might break down completely at some point.

One common solution of cracks is retrofitting the wall with reinforcements such as anchor bolts. They might help to avoid it from collapsing sooner so you can rebuild the wall.

You See No Water From Weep Holes

Weep holes are constructed on a retaining wall to drain water after it rains. If you see no water coming out of the weep holes, it means it is residing inside the wall and affecting it. This is a concerning sign as it might indicate drainage problems.

Lack of a proper drainage system often leads to this issue. Thus, you must always make sure that the drainage system of such walls is functioning properly.

Sinking Soil

Subsidence, also known as sinking soil in the surrounding area, can significantly affect the retaining wall. It means that the pressure on the rock wall is changing and, thus, will impact its shape.

Therefore, precise calculations of pressure on the wall are required during the construction phase of the wall. Otherwise, the wall will not be able to withstand the sudden and unexpected pressure and collapse.

Some Of The Common Causes Of Retaining Wall Failure

Some of the common causes are:

  • Backfill saturation
  • Incorrect wall design
  • Unexpected load
  • Lack of site observation or navigation
  • Cheap materials
  • Improper installation
  • Age

How To Prevent A Bad Retaining Wall

Prevention of a bad retaining wall is possible by preventing the causes listed above. If you spend your time and effort on careful site observation, pressure calculations, and buying good quality materials, you can avoid a bad retaining wall. Moreover, always go for an experienced retaining wall contractor to build a better and stronger wall.

Also read: How To Build A Retaining Wall?

About Rough Rock Contracting

Rough Rock Contracting offers retaining wall services. We have been in the industry of excavation, site prep, and more for over 25 years. We are based in Nanoose Bay and are proud to serve our customers by helping them make their buildings better.

We handle your excavation needs, rock breaking and septic field installations, foundation digs, site prep, and large yard-work projects. For more information contact us today.

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