How To Stop A Retaining Wall From Falling

Afraid that your retaining wall will collapse? We have got you covered!

After the massive expense of building and furnishing your home, the last thing you would want to spend on is a fallen retaining wall.

Several circumstances beyond our control, mainly natural disasters, could lead to this adverse scenario. However, with the help of variables we can control, we can eliminate any risk of endangering ourselves and our surroundings.

What is a Retaining Wall?

A retaining wall is designed to hold material on one side and prevent it from collapsing. A key feature of a retaining wall is that it can withstand pressure from the retained material, usually soil.

You can use concrete slabs, timber, rocks, and boulders to build retaining walls. When made improperly, these walls may fall short in quality and cave under the pressure of materials and structures that they are supporting.

However, the good news is that the disintegration of these walls often occurs gradually. As a result, custodians have ample time to fix the wall themselves or call for assistance from real estate management experts such as Design Everest.

What Are Some Common Failure Issues of Retaining Walls?

While a retaining wall failure could be the complete collapse of the wall, there could be several red flags you could keep an eye on to make sure you are in the clear. Preventing your wall from failing can be done by addressing common failure issues:

  1. Saturated Backfills:

Water is a significant force that exerts considerable pressure on the wall. Proper maintenance of tiles or channels for drainage, grading the site appropriately, and using the correct backfill material that drains well can reduce excess water build-up and keep your retaining wall in good shape.

  1. Poor Engineering:

As most industry experts suggest, skimping out on your initial land plans can come back to haunt you. Many collapses in retaining walls can be credited to initial design flaws and poor engineering. Although it may cost you a bit more initially, always opt for a reputable and trained contractor or help design and construct your wall to the specific conditions at the site.

  1. Foundation Settlement:

A primary factor to consider while laying the foundation for your retaining wall is to pack the soil underneath it before properly building it. This strategy will prevent future settlement that could lead to your wall cracking or even collapsing.

How Can I Stop a Retaining Wall From Falling?

Taking notice of the above factors and quick action can save you a lot of grief and prevent your retaining wall from falling. Keep in mind the following tips from the experts at Design Everest to stay on your toes and work smart!

Strengthen the Front of the Wall

An easy, almost obvious precaution to take would be to optimize the breadth of the wall to strengthen the front of it. The extension of the footing toe eventually decreases soil bearing pressure.

You can do this by excavating the soil and pouring additional concrete in front of the footing toe to widen the bearing area. The new and existing concrete is bound together by drilling holes in existing concrete and then placing epoxy dowels which transfer shear and moment forces.

Use Soldier Beams

Soldier beams or H beams, commonly used for constructing retaining walls, are installed in the holes made on the footing heel and connected to the wall. The beams are spaced at specific intervals along the horizontal face of the structure.

In addition, the distance between the wall and the soldier beams is assessed by the footing heel. The heel is the back part of the retaining wall footing buried in the soil.

Rebuild the Wall

If your wall is on the verge of collapse and the aforementioned preventive measures are not viable, the best decision may be for you to take down and rebuild your retaining wall. This trick would also be advisable in cases where a larger wall or building uses a different construction material.

Resolve Surface Drainage Issues

Let’s go back to basics; prevention is always better than cure. Resolving surface drainage issues is way cheaper than spending that extra bit building a new retaining wall.

It is advisable to prevent water accumulation at the rear face of the wall by re-grading the backfill material surface or creating a small concrete drainage pipe to redirect water away from the backfill.

Another mitigation strategy would be to expand the number of weep holes or small openings in the base to ease any hydrostatic pressure. In most instances, you can resolve drainage issues by simply closing or diverting active drainage channels.

Tie-Back Anchoring

Another method to consider mitigating the chances of the collapse of your retaining wall is tie-back anchoring. It involves drilling holes in the back of the wall and introducing a tie-back anchor that passes the backfill fault plane.

However, constraints make it necessary to re-monitor wall shears (structural panels) and locations.

Leading with Conservative Calculations

All estimations should be accurate and detailed when inspecting a retaining wall site to ensure better construction. It is critical to investigate the site, comprehend the construction codes, and take precise measures to ensure your retaining wall lasts for a long time.

Introducing Tiered Retaining Walls

While retaining walls bigger than four feet, you can consider a DIY alternative for a steep slope by building two or lesser tiered retaining walls rather than only one tall wall.

How Can Design Everest Help?

While these are a few tips and preventive measures to keep in mind while building or maintaining your retaining wall, the practical execution of a few methods can be daunting. It is better to leave them to the experts – and we are always happy to help!

To know more, contact us and we will provide you with a free quote and consultation.

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Retaining walls are used in landscaping to reduce soil erosion, create terraces on steep slopes, and many other reasons. Typically, these walls are used
A retaining wall is a concrete structure that holds soil at two different heights (made by cutting and filling) while resisting lateral earth pressure


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