A retaining wall keeps soil within its boundaries. It prevents spills, redirects water, controls erosion, and keeps unwanted elements out. Different types can be built depending on the project requirements such as rock banks, sleeper walls, masonry walls, gabion walls, and dry stone walls. These may use a combination of stone, steel, masonry, and wood. Keeping these walls in good shape is a challenge since they are usually at the mercy of changing weather. For example, water exposure can weaken the structure and lead to costly repairs. It is necessary to consider this from the start. Countermeasures have to be included in the design for safety and longevity. Read on to learn more about this subject.
Hydrostatic pressure is one of the biggest enemies of retaining walls. This is the force applied by the water that builds up in the surrounding soil. If the pressure reaches a high level for a prolonged period, then it can cause cracks to appear on the walls. It could even create holes and reduce structural integrity. In the worst case scenario, the wall might collapse because of the intense pressure. Clearly, these must be avoided at all cost to keep the property safe for the occupants. Retaining walls are also expensive to build so it is a good idea to protect the investment. Consult a reputable contractor to figure out ways to control hydrostatic pressure.
First and foremost, there should be adequate drainage to direct water away from the walls. This can be achieved in several ways. One is to use a coarse and well-draining material for the backfill like scoria. This will help water flow down and out quickly. Another is to place an agricultural drain to guide the water to the drainage system. Lastly, builders can place several weep holes at the base of the wall to lower the effects of hydrostatic pressure. Experienced contractors will make sure that everything is in order in terms of drainage. This is definitely a great step to take. However, drainage alone might not be enough to keep the water out.
Proper drainage can drastically reduce pressure but moisture can still make its way through the walls. A sudden collapse may be less likely but there can still be dampness, mold, and mildew. The internal supports can succumb to corrosion as well and this can still lower the structural integrity. If you wish to prevent these forms of damage, then you need to apply a waterproofing membrane to block moisture. Find a solution that can be applied to the type of surface that you have. These waterproofing membranes are usually suitable for bricks, concrete, and limestone blocks. They can last for several years without any maintenance work. Just install them and forget them. They will keep your walls looking great for curb appeal.
Every project has its own unique challenges. Look for a retaining wall waterproofing contractor with years of experience and unquestionable reputation. Get help in the design of the structure and the selection of materials to get the best results.