Retaining Wall Repair

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broken retaining wall

I think that it needs to be specified first and foremost that before you look into getting your retaining wall repaired a couple of things need to be thought about. Getting a new wall whether through repair or replacement can be an expensive process so a mistake could be very costly. Here are a couple of things to consider when looking into retaining wall repair or replacement:

1. How Big is the Retaining Wall?

If you have a couple of cracked bricks in your garden wall then most likely this article is not for you. Small walls that are meant to be aesthetic and used in landscaping can probably be fixed by you with the right materials and know how. Large walls should only be handled by companies with the man power and means to do so. Unless you are an engineer and have a team with you, leave the large jobs to the professionals.

2. Rebuilding vs Repairing

One unfortunate fact that you might have to face is that if the wall needs repairs it probably needs to be rebuilt anyway. If the wall needs repairs something caused it to fail. Sometimes mother nature (too much rain, improper drainage, etc) can cause failure in a wall. If you try and repair it and accidentally skip a step or use the wrong materials you could risk a catastrophic failure and a collapsed wall. When starting the repair process you might find out that you need new drainage behind the wall or the wall needs to be demoed and replaced.

3. Wall Failure

The top two reasons for retaining wall repair is #1 a lack of proper drainage and #2 poor installation. Some walls don’t even have any kind of drainage behind them. The two reasons almost go hand in hand, but it is also the two reasons why a demo and a rebuild is better than trying to repair a lost cause.

4. Railroad Ties

Railroad tie retaining walls are the worst kind of retaining walls to have. Most railroad tie walls will fail. Sometimes they will begin to rot and fall apart. Most of the time they were built with no drainage behind them. In fact a lot of cities don’t allow them to be built anymore, rendering them as “not up to code.” Railroad ties are not eco friendly. The chemicals that are sprayed on them to keep them from rotting will get into the soil after heavy rains and is bad for the environment. It is highly recommended to not go with railroad ties for a retaining wall, but they can be used as a last resort.

railroad ties

In summary:

1. If the wall is a small garden wall you might be able to fix it. If not, leave it to the pros.

2.  It’s almost always better to rebuild the wall than to try and repair it.

3. A lack of drainage and poor installation are the leading causes for retaining wall failure.

4. Railroad ties are very problematic.