Concrete retaining walls are popular for their strength and durability. However, a concrete retaining wall can become damaged over time because of various factors. When this happens, you should repair and reinforce the wall immediately to prevent it from collapsing and ruining your landscape's visual appeal. Below are three signs your concrete retaining wall requires repair.
Leaning or Tilting Retaining Wall
A retaining wall that is anchored to the ground should be upright. If your wall is leaning or tilting to one side, it has lost its stability. Tilting occurs when the soil behind the wall isn't properly compacted to prevent erosion. Heavy rainfall can wash away the soil, causing the wall to tilt. Weak soil that is unable to support the weight of the structure can also cause it to lean to one side. Therefore, reposition the concrete to prevent the retaining wall from collapsing. If the soil behind the wall is unstable, backfill it using crushed stone and gravel to ensure proper drainage and support.
Cracks in the Concrete
Cracks are a sign that your retaining wall is failing. They usually occur due to the following reasons:
- Soil pressure: Soil with poor drainage properties, such as clay soil, expands when exposed to high moisture levels. As the soil expands, it pushes against the concrete wall, causing it to crack.
- Freeze-thaw cycles: If water seeps into the soil behind the wall and freezes, it can cause the soil to expand. This movement exerts pressure on the concrete, causing it to crack.
- Vibrations and heavy loads: Heavy loads and vibrations from heavy machinery can cause cracks in your concrete retaining wall.
Repair cracks in your concrete retaining wall to prevent them from spreading. If your concrete wall is exposed to freeze-thaw cycles, install a waterproofing membrane on the back of the wall. The membrane will prevent water from seeping into the soil and freezing. You can also use gravel or crushed stone for your backfill. Since these materials have excellent drainage properties, they can prevent moisture from freezing in the soil.
Spalling occurs when the top surface of concrete begins to flake or peel away. Water damage is the primary cause of spalling in concrete retaining walls. When moisture seeps into the concrete, it weakens it and causes it to crack. Over time, the cracks can cause the surface to peel away. If your concrete retaining wall is reinforced with steel rebar, check the metal for corrosion. Corroded steel bars can weaken the concrete, causing it to crack and flake. You should repair the cracks and resurface the affected areas to restore the structural integrity of the wall.
Watch out for the above signs of damage in a concrete retaining wall. Contact a local contractor for professional retaining wall repair services.