A retaining wall is one of the most invaluable and versatile tools out of all the landscape devices. They have been used for well over a thousand years now in the construction industry. Many of the gardens and terraces that you see today were constructed using retaining walls. They help improve walking access and can help to turn a property into a very aesthetically pleasing building. Retaining walls can also create some of the best real estates on the market.
You might have to pay a little bit extra for a good retaining wall build, but it is most definitely worth it. They say that you pay for what you get, and retaining walls are notorious for being frequently butchered and of poor quality. You must educate yourself to ensure you are aware of some of the most common retaining wall errors. Below are 5 of some of the most common retaining wall errors that are made and the issues they can cause.
Should You Be Building There?
If a retaining wall is higher than 4 feet, you need a city permit to be able to construct a retaining wall. You need file the soil permit application, engineer drawing and an engineer assurance statement so getting a permit is not always that easy.
The reason the rules are a little bit more strict for a retaining wall is they can often cause more of a hazard to the public and to you as the homeowner. For that reason, walls need to be safe.
Poor Wall Construction
Possibly the most costly error to make of them all. Poor construction of a retaining wall can have completely devastating results, and it often boils down to ignorance. Without the correct planning and implementation, it is impossible to construct a wall that is safe and will last for many years.
All retaining walls must have a sturdy base that is very compacted and a footer that is made correctly for the specific design of the retaining wall. A different technique will be used for the different types of retaining walls that are constructed. When constructing a retaining wall, it is vital to use the right materials with the right tools to get the job done properly.
A retaining wall is only going to be sturdy and durable if the hydrostatic pressure within the wall is sufficiently drained. If not, it will only be a matter of time before the wall breaks. Retaining walls should have a gravel envelope, different outlet points, a subsurface drainage system, and weep drains.
These need to be placed at specific intervals to drain the water properly. Most retaining walls are non-pervious, which means it does not allow a passage for any water. The materials used are usually concrete, brick, brick veneer, and stone. Sometimes a segmented wall is used as it allows more water to flow through due to the dry stacking of the material.
Leaving Collateral Damage
Although retaining walls are great, they do have their faults and so do the people constructing them. A lack of respect for the surrounding area can lead to serious environmental damage to the existing landscape.
Heavy equipment that moves tools and materials back and forth can damage the environment without proper oversight. Heavy machinery, gravel trucks, and even tractors are often also involved in retaining wall builds.
If you have ever seen a retaining wall that is bulging out slightly, it will be due to poor footing and anchoring choices. The right footing determines the success of a retaining wall so, it is essential that the proper type of footing is being used for each retaining wall construction.
Need A Retaining Wall Built Right?
As you can see, there are a few things that can go wrong if you don't know what you are doing when building a retaining wall. If you want a retaining wall built right, the experts at Kelowna Retaining Walls will be more than happy to get the job done for you.
Kelowna Retaining Walls has completed many retaining wall projects in Kelowna and in the Okanagan of various sizes and we would be happy to talk to you today!
Retaining walls are landscaping structures designed to help keep soil in place. They're often made from rocks, concrete blocks, or similar materials. Though these walls are made for practical reasons, when they're properly integrated into the landscaping design, they can also boost how the property looks. This can help increase the property's value and they can be constructed for a reasonable price, even when made from high-quality materials. Learn more now about why a retaining wall is a good idea.
Enhances the Property's Value
Garden retaining walls can be customized to fit the property, improving the overall aesthetics. Retaining walls can be an effective way to make the space around the house more versatile, and if there is a plan to sell soon, it could be a way to help the home sell faster.
Low-Maintenance and Durable
A retaining wall can be a fantastic way to invest in the property, as the materials they're made from can stand up to almost any weather conditions. You won't have to worry about time or money repairing the wall, and there is very little maintenance needed to keep the retaining walls in great shape. Once they're installed, there is very little you'll have to do or worry about.
Retaining walls can withstand heavy weight against them, so they can help hold back water or soil. They can do this for long periods of time, so there's no need to worry about the weather causing the soil to move or the landscaping by the wall being damaged. Retaining walls can also be used to create garden beds or for vertical gardens.
Since there is minimal disruption to the soil, grass, and other vegetation and a reduction in stormwater runoff, retaining walls are an eco-friendly option. The materials used are sustainable, affordable, and will last for many years. They'll also blend in with the natural surroundings, so they won't detract from the view, and provide the perfect place for creating a new garden.
Helps Stop Erosion
Retaining walls are perfect for reducing the potential for erosion. Caused by the weather in the area, erosion can end up ruining the landscape, causing sinkholes, or washing away fertilizers. All of these can be expensive to fix, not to mention difficult and time-consuming. Instead, with a retaining wall, everything is kept in place.
We Offer Landscaping Services and Retaining Walls
Kelowna Retaining Walls is a well regarded retaining walls company in Kelowna, BC and in surrounding communities throughout the Okanagan. We have the right expertise, experience, and resources to help you create and install a retaining wall anywhere on your property. If you've been looking into adding a retaining wall, talk to our team to create a solution customized for your yard and your needs. We make sure the project is done on time and within budget, and we can help you choose the right materials, decide on the right placement for the wall, and more. Contact us today to learn more about retaining walls or to discuss your ideas and see how we can help.
What Is A Retaining Wall?
A retaining wall holds back the earth and creates level ground for a yard or hillside slope. Retaining walls are used for land management purposes or to accomplish a variety of landscaping objectives. The ultimate and primary job of the retaining wall is to create a barrier to hold the soil. A retaining wall is often used to protect against soil erosion or to create a flower bed on level ground. But, there is also a form to the function. A retaining wall will typically also add to the overall look of the landscaping. These walls can create a decoratively pleasing addition to the curb appeal when done well.
Which Kind of Retaining Wall?
A retaining wall is typically one of two basic types of structure. The two kinds are geogrid reinforced and gravity. It's essential to determine which type is necessary to help determine the kind of materials used.
Geogrid Reinforced Retaining Wall
Due to the amount of soil that a retaining wall must hold back, the most challenging jobs must be structurally equipped to withstand the expected amount of pressure. The geogrid utilizes a type of material, similar to netting, laid vertically between the earthen layers. The mesh is incorporated into the earth on the slope and attached to the wall's structure to provide extra support. The result is like having multiple layers rising to the surface at the top of the retaining wall.
The Geogrid style of reinforcement is a specialty method that is only available with walls using certain material options. Because of its additional support, a wall with an expected considerable height should plan for materials that allow for a geogrid construction.
Gravity Retaining Wall
Outside of these conditions that mandate the geogrid construction, most retaining wall builders will opt to use the standard construction method using a gravity retaining wall. The gravity option is the one most commonly used for home and garden projects. They are often shorter, as most homes are built on lots without a severe degree of slope. There is a limit to how tall a gravity wall can be built before it can no longer support itself and the earth. These walls frequently reach an average of around four feet but can be as tall as ten feet if the load is not overly demanding.
Wall Construction Materials
As the retaining wall is factored into the landscaping, designers can get creative with the types of materials used. The walls can have a strictly utilitarian look or one that is limited only by the imagination. The wall can be coordinated with the rest of the overall look of the grounds. Some unconventional materials options include railroad sleepers, natural stones, wall stones, bricks, and various treated woods.
A retaining wall can be made from any number of materials. Some favorites are rocks, boulders, poured concrete, concrete blocks, bricks, or treated wood. These options will vary in price, how they can be used or constructed, how long the material is expected to remain in place, and the amount of maintenance expected.
Pros and Cons
The appearance of the material is not the only factor to consider. There are pros and cons to each of the choices. For example, wood is a commonly selected material for those who want to keep costs down. Wood is also a relatively easy material for the layman constructing a retaining wall. The downside is that the wood breaks down over time and exposure to the elements. It will require maintenance sooner and more frequently than the other options.
Rocks and concrete materials are more formidable against the weather, will require less maintenance, but they may not offer the look the homeowner is interested in achieving. The overall result may be more appropriate for a business than a residential property.
Some stunning retaining walls can be constructed using stones or boulders. The effect will offer natural, lasting beauty, but it won't be cheap. Walls made of stones or boulders may fall a bit short on their ability to serve the practical side, allowing for more water to pass through than the wall intends. Also, the masonry knowledge required for this type of wall is often outside the regular handyman's realm of experience.
A cast-in-place retaining wall, aka a mortared wall, is another option. This option is different because of the method by which the wall is constructed. It will often offer a similar variety and style of materials. Some options for a cast-in-place retaining wall could include veneers, flagstones, or bricks. The uniqueness of these types of selections will frequently result in a highly individualized and custom-finished wall. The downside is that they demand expert construction, which increases the cost significantly. Finally, since these walls are put in place as a solid structure, they are susceptible to damage, such as natural events like earthquakes.
Lastly, there's the segmental retaining wall (SRW). This type is arguably one of the easiest to build. This wall is made up of concrete blocks with an interlocking feature that, when joined together, compiles the expanse of the wall. There's no masonry required, and the blocks are readily affordable. Best of all, they typically endure for decades.
Choosing The Right Material
it is essential to weigh all the pros and cons of each option to select the material best suited for the project. The builder must factor in the price, degree of building difficulty, preferred aesthetic, and how much maintenance can be devoted to the wall once it's in place. Further, the type and volume of soil that the wall will be holding back, the wall's expected height, and what other existing structures may be above the area where the wall is to be constructed are additional considerations.
Constructing a practical and visually pleasing retaining wall can present a challenge. It requires extensive planning and knowledge. If you need an expert to partner with you to avoid any pitfalls with your retaining wall in Kelowna, BC or the Okanagan, Kelowna Retaining Walls is your local retaining wall builders. Our hardscape contractors are ready to help.
Retaining walls are great for stabilizing the hills and soil behind them but they are often not high enough for home security purposes. That is why fences are built on top of them or behind them to provide security. Customers often ask Kelowna Retaining Walls representatives if they can install fences on top of retaining walls themselves. Adding a fence to a retaining wall requires a bit of skill, the proper materials, and considerable time and labor. There are several factors to consider when planning to build a fence on top of a retaining wall.
What is a Retaining Wall?
A retaining wall is a thick wall built to control and retain the soil behind it. Retaining walls can be built of several different materials including poured cement, brick, concrete block or stones.
The objective of building a retaining wall is to stabilize a hill or uneven ground with a strong structure that will last for decades in every kind of weather. The retaining wall will hold back the dirt and rocks behind it, allowing for a nice level landscape in front of it.
Planning This Fence Project
Planning any project is important and can determine its success. There are several considerations for a fencing project in Kelowna, B.C.
1. Does it require city of Kelowna approval?
The first step in a retaining wall and fencing project is to check with the city to learn what their rules and requirements are for this type of project. When the land will be excavated and a general difference in ground level is more than one meter, city approval may be needed.
2. Give notice to neighboring landowners.
Avoid complaints and hard feelings by notifying the neighboring landowners of your project plans. Your retaining wall will affect them in some way. They need a warning about the project so they can be prepared.
3. Will your work affect the neighbor's land?
Any project that involves digging or filling land within 600mm of the property boundary will affect the adjoining land. Excavations traveling downward at a slope from 600mm below the natural ground level is included.
Building your own Fence
First, the retaining wall should be well-designed and properly constructed. The plans should include the addition of a fence. Consideration should be given both to the material used in the retaining wall and the material that will be used for the fence. The retaining wall should be strong enough to support a fence. Keep in mind that the added fence will mean more overturning force when there are strong winds.
The wall and the fence should be strong enough to resist wind and other forces without collapsing. If the wall will have a fence on top of it, there should be properly installed PVC pipes to support the fence. The fence needs enough support to make it strong enough to withstand any force against it and provide the home security that is needed.
Different Fence Installation Plans
There are three different ways to locate and install fences. A fence can be located three feet behind the retaining wall, behind the block, and on top of the wall.
1. 3 feet behind the retaining wall
The most preferred location for a fence is 3 feet behind the wall. This fence location takes the pressure off the wall and allows for a strong fence installation.
2. Behind the block
Fence installation close to the wall block will require professional design and building. The fence must be constructed without damaging the retaining wall structure or support so the top of the wall can resist any forces from the fence.
3. Fences on top of the wall block
Fences located on top of the wall structure are the most challenging of the three fence constructions. The services of an engineer might be required to analyze the wall to make sure its design and strength can support a fence. The wall should be 200-400mm tall for a fence to be built directly on top of it. The fence posts must be embedded in the blocks and secured with concrete for strength and stability.
Building a Fence on an Older Retaining Wall
The wall will need to be inspected and found to be strong enough to support the added fence. If the fence will be behind the wall and require digging for the posts, that digging should be done by hand for minimal damage to the geogrid. The geogrid is the material used to reinforce the soil near the retaining wall.
The ideal location of the fence with an existing retaining wall is three feet behind the wall block. Adding a fence on top of an existing wall block presents challenges for fence installers.
Should You Hire a Professional or Try DIY in Adding a Fence?
The decision to hire a professional to install your new fence or to install the fence yourself depends on several factors. Do you have the required skill and the time to install a fence? Have you ever installed a fence before? The fence design and plan may be more complicated than you can handle. Installing the fence may take a considerable amount of time.
A professional has the tools, training, and experience to install the new fence properly and quickly without damaging the retaining wall. The decision might hinge on the height of the retaining wall and the style of the fence to be installed.
For your retaining wall in Kelowna, BC, give us a call.
Properly planned and constructed retaining walls serve a dual purpose. They add beauty and aesthetic appeal to your landscape while protecting the soil and adding functionality to an outdoor space.
While the concept of retaining walls may sound confusing and technical at first, it is actually one of the most common landscaping elements used on properties around Kelowna, B.C. With retaining walls, it is possible to add new functionality to a property that would be impossible without them.
Today, retaining walls are made from several material options. Some of the most common materials used for construction include wood, natural stone, concrete, and brick. Each option has its own pros and cons, but there is one that stands out from the group: stone pavers. Not only do stone pavers look great, but they can also help extend the life and increase the durability of any retaining wall constructed.
The biggest benefit of using stone pavers for retaining walls rather than wood or concrete is that you have an eco-friendly option that is more durable, chemical-free, and low maintenance.
Keep reading to learn about why paver retaining walls are smarter options for any property and learn about the biggest benefits they provide.
The Impact of Retaining Walls on Erosion
When it comes to practicality, retaining walls provide several layers of protection to a landscape design. The most prevalent of these benefits is helping to prevent flooding issues and erosion.
Maintaining a property’s lawn and landscape requires several steps and processes. Some of these things include pruning and trimming, watering, weed control, and fertilization. When a property owner invests their money, energy, and time in these things, it can be frustrating to see issues related to soil erosion and flooding. In fact, these problems can undo all the hard work that has gone into ensuring a landscape looks great.
When designed properly, retailing walls can deter this issue by redirecting the water during a storm so that damaging pools and puddles are not created around the home or anywhere else on the property. As time passes, erosion will also impact the home’s foundation and weaken the stability of the land that the home is constructed on. This may cause even more issues in the future. If the look of the landscape and property is not a priority, retaining walls can also help to protect the home’s foundation, which makes this a smart investment for any property owner.
In most cases, people consider their lawn the “landscaping” elements of the property, and the retaining wall is a hardscape feature. Using stone pavers for this hardscape feature is a smart option because they create an interlocking design that adds to the functionality and overall appeal of the space. The main design element is the interlocking paver or block design that can be created. With the interlocking paver feature, an extremely durable wall is created, and it provides more protection. Without the retaining wall, or if a subpar material is used, weather can cause serious problems for the landscape.
The Benefits of Using Pavers for Retaining Walls
Now that it is clear why having a retaining wall is so beneficial, it is a good idea to find out why stone pavers are a smart option for the creation of this wall.
With pavers, it is possible to create a more seamless experience when it comes to ensuring the wall blends into the landscape. The look of the yard and property will seem more natural and cohesive. Also, since it is possible to customize the wall’s design when interlocking pavers are used, it is possible to create the look that is desired.
There are several practical benefits offered by using paver for the construction of retaining walls, too.
As you can see, the construction of a retaining wall makes sense for many properties. Contact the professionals at Kelowna Retaining Walls to learn more.
Retaining walls are a principal hardscaping feature of both residential and commercial properties; when considering a retaining wall design, there are many different types of retaining walls, as well as many building materials to choose from.
Choosing the best retaining wall material depends on many factors, including property type, desired design elements, purpose of the wall in terms of functionality, as well as available budget. There is no right or wrong answer to what retaining wall is best due to the unique elements of each individual job, but there are pros and cons that can be examined when it comes to building materials.
In this article, you’ll learn about the pros and cons of the most popular retaining wall materials, then being able to make a decision that makes sense for your specific job, budgetary needs, as well as desired look.
7 Most Common Retaining Wall Materials
Here, we’ll break down the most popular and accessible retaining wall materials and explore the benefits and potential downsides of each one. Kelowna Retaining Walls are varied in material, and as you research these materials, you’ll see that they could each be used, depending on your job type and preferences.
The respective materials include the following:
Stone Veneer is one of the most popular types of retaining wall in terms of design because there are so many possible appearances when it comes to stone veneer retaining walls. In addition, they give off a natural-looking appearance which many people enjoy.
Stone veneers come in a variety of colors and styles, which can be great in terms of freedom and design flexibility. One consideration when choosing this building material is that it should coincide with the stone that is already a part of the property’s design elements; if there isn’t much stone there already, that won’t be a big issue.
The great thing about stone veneers is that they are very solid and can match the purpose of most any job due to a range of thickness and heights. This makes stone veneers a very customizable option for retaining walls.
Stone Veneer Retaining Wall Pros: Customizable, durable, and natural appearance with many options
Stone Veneer Retaining Wall Cons: Requires a strong and well-created design that is typically done by a retaining wall contractor or architect.
Poured concrete offers property owners many design options as well with heightened levels of durability and strength. This type of retaining wall is most favorable in commercial, industrial, and modern landscapes.
While there is a lot of strength that poured concrete retaining walls can hold, they have to be poured correctly and they may crack over time. If the work isn’t done just right, there is a higher chance that your retaining wall will fail, or that there will be a wave or bulge in the retaining wall.
Poured Concrete Retaining Wall Pros: Great for modern, industrial and commercial landscapes, offers durability and high levels of strength when done correctly
Poured Concrete Retaining Wall Cons: Can crack, wave, or bulge; construction must be done exactly right, doesn’t fit all aesthetics
Brick is a classic look for Kelowna Retaining Walls and can give residential and commercial properties more curb appeal. Brick retaining walls are strong, durable, and effective when the proper drainage system is implemented.
The construction of a brick retaining wall requires more labor, however, and proper drainage for a brick retaining wall must be used; if not, the wall will not hold up over time. It can be tedious but will provide a strong and effective structure for a retaining wall in the long run.
Brick Retaining Wall Pros: classic look, curb appeal, durable with high strength levels
Brick Retaining Wall Cons: more labor required for installation, special drainage systems needed
Another fan favorite, concrete blocks can give a natural look and allow for curvature to be added to the landscape in which it is installed. It mirrors classic architectural styles, which can fit the desired aesthetic of many home and property owners.
Concrete blocks, however, are not effective for bigger jobs and won’t be suitable if the retaining wall need is higher than four feet. Depending on the footing and base, the strength may be affected.
Concrete Block Retaining Wall Pros: classic architectural aesthetic, adds curves to landscape
Concrete Block Retaining Wall Cons: only possible for smaller walls, weak footing minimizes strength and durability
Boulder (Dry Stone)
Homeowners that want the ultimate natural look for their property or garden will love the aesthetic provided by a boulder, or dry stone, retaining wall. These suit colonial and country homes perfectly, and it also offers a viable and practical solution when there is a lot of sloping or change in grade.
While these are lovely and natural, there are still some natural issues that plague these retaining walls. Both water flow and drainage can be big problems, which means it could be a nuisance for a property and may eventually fail due to water buildup if a solution isn’t incorporated in the installation.
Boulder (Dry Stone) Retaining Wall Pros: charming, natural look, effective for sloping and grade changes
Boulder (Dry Stone) Retaining Wall Cons: water buildup and water flow pose difficult problems for boulder retaining walls
Great for erosion control, gabion retaining walls are especially popular at properties that are near bodies of water such as the coast, rivers, or lakes; this is great, since the aesthetic also complements these property locations.
Gabion doesn’t require much excavation or land prep and can be a rather affordable option for a retaining wall. Gabion also minimizes environmental impact through recycled materials.
Depending on the weather conditions, however, the wire basket, or the structural formation of the gabion retaining wall, may begin to show signs of rusting, which may not be a desirable aesthetic.
Gabion Retaining Wall Pros: environmentally friendly materials, great for seaside/riverside/lakeside homes, simple installation with little skill required
Gabion Retaining Wall Cons: wire basket (structural encasing) may become rusted and unappealing
Our final material, wood, is another natural choice that can complement pretty much any design aesthetic. The installation of a wood retaining wall is relatively straightforward, giving your property a natural and neutral look.
While wood retaining walls have the potential for a 15-20 year lifespan, there are elements that may minimize it. When installing a wood retaining wall, proper waterproofing must be executed; there are effective wood preservatives that can help with this. If this is not done and the installation isn’t completed with proper materials, your wood retaining wall will be severely limited in terms of lifespan.
It may also rot and isn’t recommended for any retaining wall needs over four feet, just like concrete block retaining walls.
Wood Retaining Wall Pros: easy-to-access materials, simple and natural design, works well with many different property and design types
Wood Retaining Wall Cons: needs waterproofing and wood preservatives, can rot, may not last as long as other retaining walls
Considerations for the Best Retaining Wall
The best retaining wall isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution. When you choose the best retaining wall, you must carefully weigh your options according to your job type, desired design elements, as well as your available budget. When you find the perfect mix of these three elements, you have discovered your definition of “the perfect retaining wall.”
Here is a bit more about each of these three considerations.
It’s vital that you take into account the size of your job, the purpose of the retaining wall, and the location that it will be installed.
Retaining walls all hold up differently depending on the conditions and the purpose, so having these factors clearly defined when working with a retaining wall contractor can make things much easier in terms of choosing the best material for your job and design.
Desired Design Elements
Speaking of design, you should have some general idea about what type of aesthetic you’d like your retaining wall to have and how your contractor can help you achieve it. Ultimately, job type should win over desired design elements simply because the job type can affect the durability and lifespan of your retaining wall more than design elements can.
If you choose simply based on design alone, you may find yourself with a failed retaining wall or one that needs repairs later down the line.
Of course, the deciding factor for your retaining wall may be your budget. There are many different elements that can affect the cost of your retaining wall, including location, design (curves, steps, sloping, additional elements), soils, and material cost, to name a few.
The best thing you can do is have a clear picture in terms of what you need for your job type as well as what you’d like in terms of design, and then create a budget window that you can discuss with your retaining wall contractor. Think about which elements are must-haves for you, and which ones have some room for negotiation or leeway.
Final Thoughts: Best Type of Retaining Wall
All in all, there’s no blanket response for which type of retaining wall is best, but with careful considerations of your job type, design elements, and budget, you can work with an expert retaining wall contractor to find the perfect retaining wall for you and your property.
Ready to discuss your retaining wall job? Contact Kelowna Retaining Walls today and we’ll be happy to partner with you to make your dream retaining wall a reality! As the retaining wall contractors in Kelowna, we have the expertise needed to ensure your retaining wall is installed to the highest caliber and quality for optimal durability and lifespan.
Retaining walls are an important part of many different landscaping jobs for a variety of reasons. The main purpose of a retaining wall is to restrain soil so that it can maintain a position, slant, or level that it normally wouldn’t be able to.
Retaining walls are man-made structures that are designed in a few different ways depending on the demands of the job. Regardless of which type of retaining wall you have, either gravity or cantilever, it’s really important that these walls maintain their integrity and don’t fail over time.
Especially in times of bad weather or other disturbances, it does happen that retaining walls may fail. This can cause a big problem for any space, regardless of it being residential, commercial, or industrial.
In this article we’re going to take a look at the common reasons that retaining walls fail and some tips that can be used in order to recover the wall and rescue it from complete destruction.
Main Causes of Retaining Wall Failure
When a retaining wall is failing, you can visually see that there is something wrong through a few common signs, which include tilting out of vertical composition as well as cracking. Even the best retaining walls can fail, and some of the main reasons that this happens includes foundation issues, soil expansion, wall overload, construction mistakes, design errors, ineffective drainage installation behind the wall (missing or clogged weep holes), or reinforcement deficiency.
As you can see, there are quite a few reasons why retaining walls can fail, which means it’s important for the installation of retaining walls to be executed with a high level of success to prevent any controllable factors from causing issues.
What Type of Retaining Walls Fail?
While there are a variety of ways a retaining wall can be constructed, if the wall is constructed with certain materials or shortcomings, it won’t be able to stand the test of time.
Here, we examine what types of retaining walls are likely to fail.
Block Walls without Adequate Reinforcement
It’s important that you have a licensed professional install your Kelowna retaining walls, as this can be a make-or-break element to whether or not your retaining wall will stay standing.
The most common type of retaining wall failure involves a block masonry wall; while this is a common type of wall for foundation, it’s also one that is commonly installed by untrained or uncertified contractors, which can lead to a lack of expertise in its engineering.
If the design is not properly executed, the wall will typically follow the process of eventual demise— tilting forward, cracking, and collapse. This process can be exacerbated by bad weather or natural disturbances that increase the rate of destruction; the wall cannot withstand these added pressures, and therefore fails.
When there is no reinforcement on a block wall, the height of the wall will be limited to under four feet; anything above that won’t be able to stand the test of time. This is clearly a rookie mistake that no licensed professional should make, and a huge design flaw that is unacceptable.
Moreover, if there is reinforcement that is inadequate, such as concrete filling with steel reinforcement, it won’t hold unless it is securely anchored at the sufficient depth for security. Even with these measures taken, the wall still isn’t likely to withstand anything over 4 feet.
There must be enough footing to hold the wall and reinforce its presence through the foundation.
Retaining Walls Lacking Proper Drainage
On a retaining wall, there must be effective escapes for water so that moisture doesn’t build up behind the wall and damage its integrity. When water builds up behind the wall, there is a lot of increased pressure on the wall.
The problem is that even if a retaining wall does have weep holes, which are the method of retaining wall drainage, in place, they are often clogged. This is an easier fix than some of the other drainage issues, which include having weep holes that are not in the right spot, as well as weep holes that are too small.
When Kelowna retaining walls don’t have the proper weep hole drainage in place, rainfall can be a main trigger for retaining wall failure. After the fact, there is not much that can be done, but it’s much better if the wall has a backfill of sand or gravel, with a foundation drain, weep holes that are placed correctly and of the right size, and not clogged.
Can I Save a Retaining Wall?
When Kelowna retaining walls fail, it’s a huge stressor, and can cause devastating problems for your residence or commercial property. While the word “fail” can mean different things depending on what the issue is, if you can catch your retaining wall failure at the beginning times, you may be in luck.
Let’s take a look at the different occasions where you may need to save a retaining wall, and whether or not it would be feasible.
If the main problem with the retaining wall is due to reinforcement, there will be signs of cracking and deflection, which means that the concrete or building material is no longer level but is giving out.
When this happens, you’ll need to call in a local retaining wall professional to take a look at the size, depth, and spacing of the reinforcement. It is only after the current state of the retaining wall is determined that a solution can be identified and executed.
Extending the footing of the wall or using a tie-back can both be viable solutions for reinforcement issues depending on the state of your wall.
There are two main drainage issues that you may encounter in a retaining wall, which include weep holes that aren’t effective, or backfill that has become sodden. Both of these are issues that need to be resolved if you want to save your retaining wall.
When you have soddened backfill, you’ll need to have your backfill altered to be at a slant or grade, which allows the water to be channeled away from the wall. It’s important to make sure that the backfill material is also of high quality and that the drainage channels are effective in disposing of unwanted water.
Removing and replacing backfill can typically help in resolving this issue and is often necessary if the backfill is already soaked.
If your weep holes aren’t effective or are clogged up, you’ll need to ensure that there is a filter to guide water through the weep holes. The measurements of the weep holes are also important for Kelowna retaining walls, so having a professional determine what is necessary in terms of size and filtering.
Unfortunately, these types of adjustments can be very costly, so other options like grading the wall, minimizing your irrigation use, or coring weep holes through the wall can help. Discuss options with your local Kelowna retaining wall builder.
Unfortunately, if your designer was less experienced than you were led to believe, you may run into design or detail errors within your retaining wall. This commonly happens when a designer doesn’t have enough information or has been given misleading or incorrect information.
It’s important for designers to be communicative when building a retaining wall and for all information to be as accurate as possible from the beginning to avoid any preventable issues.
Not only that, designers should check and re-check their drawings and the data for the construction to make sure that nothing goes awry.
When you have design or detail failures, you’ll have to take a look at the root of the problem and consider an after-the-fact fix if the wall is still in a salvageable state. If you feel that you weren’t able to achieve this with your initial designer, contact Kelowna Retaining Walls today for help.
Total Collapse of Retaining Wall
While it’s not the most common type of retaining wall failure, sometimes a total collapse can happen. This means that some or all of the wall has given way, causing the soil that was being held back and causing damage to different areas of the wall and land around it.
These walls are unable to be salvaged and need to be rebuilt. The good news is that these total collapses are a relatively rare phenomenon, and if you know what to look for, retaining walls will always show some preemptive signs of failure before totally collapsing.
Make sure you always keep your eye on the grade of your wall, which can indicate a lack of reinforcement, too much stress and pressure, as well as structural issues. Also look out for cracking and any signs of drainage issue or failure.
Local Retaining Wall Builders Kelowna
Looking to have your retaining wall inspected for failure detection? Are you building a new retaining wall in the Kelowna area? Do you need to have your retaining wall repaired?
Kelowna Retaining Walls can help you address any of these issues and more. Contact us today and we can set up a consultation to help with all of your retaining wall needs.