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How to repair a retaining wall without overspending

Retaining walls are ideal solutions to hold up sections of your yard. There are many situations where retaining walls can offer excellent support to help bring structure to the space. They can consist of wood, masonry, poured concrete, or concrete blocks. Retaining walls can be DIY, but they are hard work, and it’s critical to get the construction right, or you’ll be making repairs down the road.

Here are some of the most common issues that come up with retaining walls and how to fix them. Remember, no matter how well a wall is built, you’ll likely have to do repairs at some point in the wall’s life. Solid construction is excellent, but nature has a way of slowly breaking down human-made structures

Stone retaining wall with steps

How to fix too much weight behind the wall

When planning to build a retaining wall, it’s imperative to get clear about how much weight will be behind the wall — ensuring the wall is built to hold up as much as it needs to is vital to its longevity. However, sometimes things happen, and too much weight behind the wall can cause severe damage. This usually occurs when the builder doesn’t calculate the amount of weight the wall will need to hold. Be sure you know what will be going on top of the soil behind the wall. Will you be parking a car there? Is a small shed going to be built? Are you putting some patio furniture there for a sitting area (don’t forget to add these patio plants)? Is it just going to hold ground and nothing more?

A wall suffering from too much weight can lean or buckle. If you’re noticing your wall is beginning to bend, or it’s at a more exaggerated angle than it used to be, it’s time to fix some of the overweight issues your wall is struggling with.

To restrengthen the wall, you can distribute some of the pressure by transferring the weight to the base of the wall where it meets the ground. To do this, you can extend the base of the wall or pour a thicker concrete base. This will provide the rest of the wall with a sturdier place to rest. Additionally, you can install anchors or tiebacks to bring extra strength to the retaining wall.

How to fix the foundation of a wall

You don’t need an engineering degree to know that the foundation of a structure is possibly the most critical part to get right. The quality of the base determines just how long the wall lasts and will likely be the first thing to start breaking as time goes on. First, you need to make sure the soil is compacted enough and then build a deep and thick enough base layer.

A buckling wall is a sure sign that the foundation of your wall is compromised. To fix this, you need to extend the wall’s footing to reduce the pressure that’s on the wall. Using poured concrete instead of blocks is a more substantial solution, but simply going broader and deeper with the foundation can help tremendously. You can also regrade the terrain around the wall to make the wall shorter. This reduces the amount of pressure the foundation takes on and will probably fix your buckling issues.

Wooden retaining wall

How to fix poor drainage damage

One of the most prevalent issues with retaining walls is the lack of drainage. When water can’t drain away from the wall and builds up behind it, you’re far more likely to notice a compromised wall structure. Wet soil is incredibly heavy, which can quickly cause a lot of damage to a wall that hasn’t been built to sustain that amount of weight. It’s important to add the appropriate amount of drainage to the wall’s construction to ensure you avoid these headaches.

However, if the wall is cracking or leaning in some areas, or you notice the soil around the wall is staying wet longer than in other places, it might be time to add drainage to save your wall from further damage. 

Regrading the soil around the wall may be the simplest solution to protect the wall from pressure damage. By regrading, you can guide the water away from the wall instead of pooling behind it. You can also add what are called weep holes. Professionals can drill these weep holes to increase the drainage.

When a retaining wall begins to show signs of damage, it can be a stressful thing. Often we think retaining wall repairs will be expensive, and we let it go too long to avoid the cost. However, this leads to more damage and a higher cost of fixing it. The wall might not be a big fix; and in the end, repairing the retaining wall right away saves you time and money.

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