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How do you tell if a retaining wall is failing?

Oct 9


The retaining wall is designed to support soil that might otherwise fall. Although they are designed to withstand thousands of kilos, your retaining wall structure can fail. A retaining wall can fail when it cannot resist the pressure of the soil supporting it. This can cause significant damage to your property. 


Proper design calculations and a properly installed retaining wall make it possible to avoid wall collapse at construction. Retaining wall repair Pittsburgh has provided detailed information about the signs and causes of retaining wall collapse and how to avoid them.

Early Signs of Retaining-Wall Failure

Bowing or cracking

Cracking, tilting and bulging are all signs of a deteriorating retaining wall. Fractures can cause soil to be displaced from the wall. To correct bowing, anchor bolts can be added to the wall.

After the rain, no water from the weep holes

Weep holes are small openings that allow proper drainage of retaining walls. Poor drainage conditions can indicate that there is no water coming through weep holes following rain. Congested weep holes could cause this, lack of drainage aggregate or soil not correctly graded.

Subsidence in the surrounding areas

Subsidence (or sudden sinking) in the soil around your retaining walls can indicate that the pressure changes. Precise calculations are made before construction to gauge the forces against the wall. Any changes could lead to its eventual failure.

Causes of Failure to Retain a Wall

Many things can cause a failing retaining wall:


Backfill saturation: Saturation in the soil behind the wall without proper drainage significantly increases pressure and can lead to wall failure.

Unexpected load An extension or new building can be built close to a retaining wall without considering the increased load.

Incorrect design calculation It takes a lot of engineering to ensure that a wall can withstand its load. Wrong measures can lead to collapse and failure of retaining walls.

Low-cost materials: It is possible to reduce the load-bearing capability of retaining walls by cutting corners.

Improper installation: There are various types and purposes for retaining walls. Walls that are poorly installed can fail, especially when they are exposed to extreme weather.

Inadequate site investigation: Backfill materials, soil compression, water tables and building codes that limit soil bearing capacity should all be thoroughly examined to minimize the chance of retaining wall failure.

The age of the retaining walls: Other than external causes, walls don't last forever. Timber retaining walls stay for around 20 years, while concrete and masonry can last between 50-100. It's a sign that the wall will last at least 50 years before it begins to fail.

How to Prevent Failure of Retaining Walls

Adequate drainage

Although soil saturation is the leading cause of retaining wall collapse, many other ways exist to avoid it. To stop water from accumulating and causing failure of retaining walls, you can use geogrids and quality backfill aggregates.

Consult experts for additional loads

It is essential to consult an expert when planning to extend, resurface, or build something new next to retaining walls. This will ensure that there is no unanticipated pressure. If scaled retaining walls are built too close together, failure can also result from retaining wall failure.

Conservative calculations

All calculations for retaining walls should be accurate and precise when surveying the site. It is essential to understand the codes and take exact measurements to ensure your retaining wall lasts many years.

High-quality materials

The purpose of retaining walls and the design goals can influence the material choice. Our contractors have highlighted the advantages of using blockwork and stone for your retaining wall.

Expert contractors

It is possible to have a retaining wall that looks great and functions well by hiring experts. Our services aim to offer the highest value to clients by providing thorough installation to build the best retaining wall.


Contact Solutions to Build Your Residential or Commercial Retaining Wall

You can get more tips about retaining walls and information on how to prevent keeping wall failure by contacting our team. Please fill out the contact form to have our team build a retaining wall on your property.