What Causes a Retaining Wall to Collapse?

sitting wall pillars retaining wall ct

Retaining walls aren’t the most exciting part of the landscaping businesses – they certainly can’t compete with beautiful spring plantings – but they are crucial to many outdoor living designs. A retaining wall project may be required to level out a backyard to accommodate a patio installation. Or a retaining wall might be needed to hold back a slope in a yard to provide more space for another landscaping feature like a pool or a driveway. Retaining walls are also commonly used with walkways when there is a grade up or down to a home’s entrance.

Retaining walls are quite common, but they’re not all built alike. Perhaps you moved into a home with an existing retaining wall that’s starting to fail. Or perhaps you installed a retaining wall yourself that isn’t living up to the test of time. But just what is causing the retaining wall to fail? There are a few common contributing factors.

 

Poor drainage leads to CT retaining wall collapse

The number one cause of retaining wall failure is poor drainage. If too much water gets absorbed into the soil behind the wall, the hydrostatic pressure can push on the wall causing it to bow out or crumble. The professional designers at EA Quinn are experts in installing proper drainage, making sure water is directed away from the structure. This can be accomplished with perforated pipes, gravel and geotechnical fabric.

 

Shallow footing

The footing has to be deep enough to keep back the pressure from saturated soil. And in New England, a footing must also go below the frost line. Without a deep enough footer, a retaining wall can collapse.

 

Sub-standard materials or lack of reinforcement can hamper a retaining wall

Everyone has heard the saying, “You get what you pay for,” and that is certainly true when it comes to retaining walls. Not all pavers are made alike. And a paver or natural stone product is going to hold up better (assuming appropriate design) than a wooden retaining wall. At EA Quinn, we’re committed to using the best materials, which means our retaining walls are built to last.

 

Extra load on top

If you have a solid retaining wall, but decide five years into its life to park a pickup truck at the top of it, you may experience a failure. The extra weight from the car, or any other unplanned load, can cause the wall to collapse. Always consult with an expert to make sure your structure is designed to withstand the expected weight load.

 

Have more questions about retaining walls? Contact the experts at EA Quinn for more information today!