Retaining walls are one of the most important items for a home, if you have a need. Yet most people do not pay attention to them until something goes wrong. So far, 2015 has been record-breaking for rainfall. This rain is very stressful for retaining walls, and most people are not aware of this. A retaining wall is usually in place to retain soil. Often times it’s an embankment in a backyard that needs to be leveled out, or a slope close to a home to protect the foundation. Either way, when the soil that is against a retaining wall has been saturated with water, the weight is increased enormously which adds stress to the wall. Constructed correctly, what we call “overly built”, helps to keep this wall in place. The wall may be there for years or even decades, but when that first year comes around, you better hope your wall is constructed correctly by contractors who know what they are doing.
At McFall Masonry and Construction, we have built hundreds of retaining walls over 3 decades, and these walls are still in place today. You simply cannot trust that the wall will be constructed correctly. If the wall is less than 4 feet in height, it doesn’t require a permit, so it’s not engineered by a structural engineer. A 3-foot high retaining wall holds a lot of soil and can be very critical in it’s function. You may not know the details about the structure of a retaining wall, but you can ask questions to see if the contractor seems to know what they are talking about. One certain wall does not fit all circumstances. What’s good for one situation may not work for the next details of slope and home etc.
About 17 years ago, McFall Masonry and Construction was called out to a retaining wall that had collapsed into a creek that runs through a subdivision. This particular year had a heavy rain event during the winter. Day after day, this creek I speak of turned into a mini river, which by the way was retaining a street in this subdivision. The soil between the street and wall became overly saturated. The now mini river had been rushing against this 5’ high rock retaining wall for days. This wall was about 7 years old, you would think it would stay in place forever, not so. The retaining wall finally collapsed into the creek. We rebuilt this wall, taking heavy equipment to divert the water in the creek. We then removed everything and to our surprise, there was no foundation. The wall was constructed with the rock for over a foot deep, but below that was only 2” or mortar.
McFall Masonry and Construction rebuilt this wall correctly. We have had plenty of weather events in the past 17 years, including the wettest May in North Texas history. I drive past this retaining wall often. It is still perfectly in place, still standing after all these years. Call McFall Masonry and Construction for all your retaining wall needs.