Retaining walls aren't just for looks; they also provide structural support to terraces and hills in your landscape. This is why it is important to make sure they are always in good repair, or you could have a mini landslide in your yard. The following are three signs that it's time to fix your retaining walls.
Depending on the construction method, some minor cracks aren't a huge concern. Surface cracks sometimes show up on concrete retaining walls as well as on the mortar of bricks. Cracks that go beyond just the surface are more than a cosmetic problem. Cracks near the base could indicate an unevenness in the weight distribution, which is putting too much stress near the bottom of the wall. Or brick-and-mortar walls, the main concern is stair-stepped cracks along the mortar joints. Diagonal cracks in concrete coming up from a corner are another indication that the weight distribution is off and the wall could fail.
A wall should keep its shape at all times. This means that there should be no bowing inward or outward if the wall wasn't originally made to hold this shape. Moisture trapped behind the wall is often the culprit when it comes to bowing. If the moisture can't drain out, then there will be some bowing. The wall could eventually give way. The best way to remedy this problem is to install drains near the bottom of the wall. This allows excess moisture to drain out without compromising the integrity or the cosmetic appeal of the wall. Dry-fit stone walls generally don't have this issue, since the lack of joints provides porosity that allows water to drain out from behind the wall.
Sometimes the wall will lean outward. This is a major concern, since this indicates that there is too much weight being supported by the wall. Often, it may be necessary to completely reconstruct the wall. A contractor may be able to install supports behind the existing wall if the damage isn't too severe. A better option is to have a new wall constructed that has both more height to provide a proper barrier, as well as more reinforcing integrated directly into the wall to help support the weight of the soil it is retaining.
For more help or to have a new retaining wall designed, contact a retaining wall contracting company in your area