Concrete Contractors Colorado Springs help to extend the life of retaining walls. Building staff should regularly inspect the walls for signs of deteriorated mortar joints, shifting, or crumbling. Drainage vents must be clear, and penetrations should be properly caulked or sealed.
Wall anchors are also a great solution to stabilize damaged retaining walls. They use an anchor rod connected to a plate within the soil and tightened.
A crack in a retaining wall may be an early warning sign that the soil behind it is shifting or that the retaining wall has a design flaw. It could also mean that the foundation stratum has settled along a section of its length and requires further strengthening by cement grouting under pressure, which must be carried out with specialist advice. It is possible to close vertical cracks by routing and sealing them, a non-structural repair technique that involves routing the cracked surface and filling it with a non-sag, high-performance sealant.
Some cracks in a retaining wall are inevitable, even with proper construction and design. The type and size of the cracks will determine whether a professional is needed to make structural repairs.
Most cracks in retaining walls occur because of the shifting and movement of soil under or behind the wall, primarily due to quick freeze-thaw cycles. The movement of soil can result in the concrete retaining wall bowing or leaning. It can also cause the retaining wall footing to fail and collapse.
Ideally, a retaining wall contractor will address problems such as soil erosion and drainage before building the retaining wall. This will prevent many issues that cause a retaining wall to crack or lean in the first place.
When the retaining wall is already showing signs of cracking, the contractor should be called to inspect to identify the cause and devise a plan for the retaining wall repair. Some of the most common causes include:
Insufficient backfill with gravel; poorly backfilled soil that was compacted or tamped; poor drainage, such as no French drains or weep holes; too much water in the soil, causing it to weigh more and put more pressure on the retaining wall; and overwatering the area and hillside causing it to wash away.
One of the most common solutions for a retaining wall exhibiting cracking and leaning is reinforcing the concrete with steel reinforcing rods or rebar. To do this, the contractor will install long threaded rods in the soil attached to large galvanized plates on the retaining wall. The plates connect the rods, secured in the ground with anchors. This helps to hold the retaining wall in place and provides resistance when the clay soil tries to shift or tip the retaining wall over.
If a retaining wall bows inward, it is considered serious and may require major repairs. Fortunately, this type of deterioration can often be corrected before the wall collapses.
Soil conditions or foundation problems can cause bowed retaining walls. For example, when a retaining wall fails to have adequate batter or pitch, the soil it retains can build up and push against the wall. In addition, a retaining wall built on expansive clay soils may experience hydrostatic pressure when water from rain or snowmelt is absorbed into the ground and causes it to swell. This puts additional pressure on the retaining wall and will cause it to bend inward over time.
Other common reasons for a retaining wall to bow are lack of proper drainage, improper footings, soil instability, and tree root growth. The first step in correcting this problem is to find the source of the pressure so it can be addressed.
A masonry expert can stabilize a concrete block retaining wall by adding anchors. These devices, also called dead-man anchors, help prevent the wall from bending inward. These are installed by drilling holes into the wall and running a steel rod through it. The rod is attached to an outside anchor buried underground in the soil.
Another option for a bowed retaining wall is to reinforce it with carbon fiber strips. This is a minimally invasive repair method that is often effective. The problem with this method is that it may not be able to stop the bowing of the wall, but it can reduce how much it bends inward.
The most expensive and invasive repair method for a bowed retaining wall involves installing steel channels or C-channel anchors. This requires digging outside the wall foundation and burying steel plates or channels in the soil. Holes are drilled into the wall, and threaded high-strength rods are run through them and then connected to the steel plates or channels in the soil.
The primary function of a retaining wall is to counteract the lateral forces exerted by soil. When a retaining wall fails, it poses a safety risk to flat areas like gardens, driveways, patios, and other structures. Collapsed walls can damage nearby homes, and soil displacement can create foundation problems. It’s important to act when you notice a retaining wall showing signs of distress. Early detection and repair saves money, prevents damage to surrounding property, and reduces the liability risks involved with collapsed retaining walls.
Common signs of a failing retaining wall include bulging, bowing, and cracks. These symptoms indicate that excessive lateral pressure pulls the retaining wall down. If the retaining wall continues to degrade, it can lead to total collapse and cause major damage.
Subpar construction is one of the leading causes of retaining wall failure. Using cheap materials and poor design increases the stress on the structure. Poor drainage is another factor. Having weep holes or a drainage system is important to maintain the structural integrity of a retaining wall. If water doesn’t drain properly or the soil isn’t graded away from the wall, it can put too much weight on the retaining wall.
Other reasons retaining walls can fail include soil erosion and earth movement. Tree roots can displace the soil behind a retaining wall, and earthquakes or other weather events can weaken and destabilize the wall. The wear and tear of time can also diminish a wall’s strength, which is why replacing older retaining walls with newer, more durable materials is important.
Once a retaining wall shows signs of distress, it’s vital to find an experienced repair team. Professionals can use wall anchors or helical tiebacks to restore the retaining wall’s structural integrity and help protect nearby structures. They can also reinforce the structure or regrade the soil to relieve excess stress on the retaining wall. The key is figuring out what’s causing the wall to fail and effectively addressing that problem. A free inspection will help pinpoint any issues and suggest the optimal repair strategy.
Retaining walls can be damaged by various factors, including weather conditions, soil erosion, incorrect drainage, and being hit by vehicles. Regardless of the cause, it’s important to catch structural damage as soon as possible. Otherwise, continued deterioration could collapse parts of the wall or the entire structure.
When retaining walls show deterioration, it’s time to call a contractor. Cosmetic issues like staining, flaking, spalling, and pitting are not just unsightly; they can be precursors to structural damage.
Unlike normal walls, retaining walls are built up against the ground and support heavy loads from the soil. Therefore, they’re designed to be strong and durable. Unfortunately, a lack of maintenance can lead to problems like cracks, bowing, and leaning.
Leaning retaining walls are especially dangerous because they pose a safety hazard for anyone walking near them. Furthermore, the resulting movement of soil can threaten foundations and basement walls on other parts of the property.
This retaining wall supporting the parking structure of a townhome complex was severely eroded in multiple locations. Its collapse would threaten the safety of vehicle drivers and pedestrians on the adjacent sidewalk and alleyway.
The contractor used a combination of helical tiebacks and a wall anchor system to stabilize the wall. Helical tiebacks are driven into the ground behind the retaining wall, and their anchor rods connect to earth anchors placed in augured holes within the soil. These rods then support the weight of the soil against the retaining wall.
The wall anchor system uses concrete forms to create a solid repair in the face of a weakened retaining wall. The contractor filled the forms with Fusion-Crete modified mortar mixed with sand and white Portland cement. The contractor left extra white Portland on hand, so he added colorants to the concrete mix to achieve repair colors other than the standard gray.
Retaining wall repair is an essential service that should be performed immediately. If you’re concerned about the condition of your retaining wall, contact our team today to schedule a free retaining wall assessment and repair quote.