How To Fix a Leaning Retaining Wall? (Step By Step and Easy Guide)


Retaining wall

When you first built the retaining wall on your property, it may have elevated the aesthetics of your home to another level while providing protection against erosion and flooding. However, with time, these walls may lean forward due to over-stress on the wall surface. In that case, you might find yourself asking, how to fix a leaning retaining wall?”

Well, there are two ways to fix this problem. The first one is by using wall anchors to straighten the wall.  The second solution to this problem is through helical tiebacks which can move your wall back to its original position. However, which method is appropriate for your wall will depend on factors like the severity of the problem, soil type, etc. 

In this article, I will walk you through the methods of fixing a leaning retaining wall describing each repairing process step by step. I will also share some tips on what you should do and what you should avoid during the repair process. These will help you to make the right decision regarding fixing your damaged retaining wall. So, without further ado, let’s begin!

Fixing Your Leaning Retaining Wall

The main function of a retaining wall is to prevent landslides and flooding that can damage your property. On top of that, they are a great addition to enhance the beauty of your home. However, these walls can fail over time. And leaning retaining walls are one of the most common types of failure. 

This problem can happen for several reasons such as the saturated backfill, poor drainage system, center reinforcement is not in the correct position, or flaws in the retaining wall design.

These can cause your retaining wall to bow, sag, or lean. And if you do not take appropriate measures to address the problem immediately, it can cause quite expensive property damages in the future.

In case you already have a leaning retaining wall in your property, there are several ways to fix it. Here, I will provide a step-by-step guide for each solution to this problem. So, let’s dive right into it!

Solution 1: Wall Anchors

Wall anchors are used in stabilizing cracked basement walls. You can also fix a leaning retaining wall using the same method. And this can be a really long-lasting solution to your problem. Here is a step-by-step guide explaining how you can do that:

  • Step 1: First, mark all the utilities in your property such as sprinkler lines, water supply lines, electrical wirings, septic system, etc. This will help to avoid damaging them unknowingly during the wall anchoring process.
  • Step 2: With all your utilities marked, it’s time for you to mark the locations of anchors on the wall. The number of anchors your wall needs and their spacing will depend on how severely it is damaged. If the damage is serious, you will need to place the anchors more densely.
  • Step 3: For the next step, you will have to determine the location behind the retaining wall for placing the earth anchors.
  • Step 4: Drill holes on the marked positions (from “Step 2”) of the wall. You will be entering the threaded anchor rods through these holes.
  • Step 5: Now dig holes in the locations that you previously marked on “Step 3″. The depth of the hole will have to be such that when you enter the anchoring rods through the drilled holes on the leaning retaining wall, they will slide through the earth anchors easily.
  • Step 6: In this step, you will have to drive the threaded anchor rods through the drilled holes until they reach the earth anchors. A rod driver can help you with that. You can also use a chipping hammer for that process but this will make the work much more time and energy-consuming.
  • Step 7: With the anchor rods driven all the way to the dug holes in “Step 5” you can now install the earth anchors. Lower the earth anchor into the hole and place it onto the anchor rod. Now place the anchor nut on the rod and tighten it while making sure two or three threads are visible outside the nut. This is to ensure the earth anchor won’t come off later.
  • Step 8: Now attach the anchor plate over the anchor rod on the leaning retaining wall, place the backup plate, washer and nut and start tightening the anchor.
  • Step 9: Lastly, refill the hole that you dug for installing the earth anchors. After that, retighten the anchor rods to straighten the wall. Then cut off the excess rod and place a protective cap over it so that the sharp edges don’t cause any injury.
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Solution 2: Helical Tiebacks

Another way to fix the leaning retaining wall is through helical tiebacks. It is also known as “Soil Nailing” and this method has gained widespread acceptance over the last couple of years. Here is how you can perform this repairing process:

  • Step 1: Same as before, mark all the utilities such as power, water lines, septic system, etc. near the wall so that you can avoid these locations during the repairing process. This will help you prevent any damages to these utilities during the repair process.
  • Step 2: Weld helix-shaped blades to a steel shaft to form an anchor. Because of that, the shaft will look like a giant screw.
  • Step 3: Cut holes on the damaged wall to accommodate the blade diameter. 
  • Step 4: Now use hydraulic rotary equipment to drive the anchor through the hole and deep into the soil behind the damaged retaining wall.
  • Step 5: Once the entire anchor is driven through the wall, attach a threaded adaptor to the steel shaft anchor. This adaptor extends past the leaning retaining wall.
  • Step 6: Finally, patch the hole and place a steel plate over the rod and secure it with a large nut.

If you do everything correctly, your leaning retaining wall will be stabilized. And you can tighten the nut to make the wall straight again.

Note: Which fixing method is suitable for your leaning wall depends on factors like the severity of the problem, the soil type, etc.

Things To Consider During Retaining Wall Repair 

Down here, I’ve shared some tips that will give you a precise idea about what to do and what to avoid when repairing a retaining wall. These tips will prevent you from overspending on the repairing process and optimize the return on your investment. Just have a look at them.

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Don’t Overlook Early Warning Signs of Wall Damage

This is very important. Usually, problems with retaining walls might build over a long period of time. This time period could be months or years. However, accidents are usually sudden. 

When you notice any signs of damage to your retaining wall like a rotten wall (if the wall is made of wood), soil separation, crumbling (when it’s a concrete wall), tiling and pulling, leaning wall, water pooling around the base, you should take appropriate measures to address these problems. 

If you keep ignoring these warning signs, someday when the damage to the wall reaches a critical point, it might fall down on the ground. This can cause costly damage to your properties. Not to mention if some unfortunate soul happens to pass by near that wall when that happens, it can cause serious physical injury and even death in the worst-case scenario.

So, take appropriate actions before the issues with the retaining wall become worse.

Don’t Perform DIY Repair Jobs

When you look at the repairing process of a damaged retaining wall, it might seem simple and straightforward on the surface. But in reality, that’s not the case. 

If you don’t have any knowledge about soil compaction, earth retention, and water drainage, you will do a half-baked DIY repair job. And this will not solve the problem, rather this will just delay it for a short period of time.

That’s why, for a long-term solution to your retaining wall issues, it is better to seek professional help. Search for experts who specialize in foundation repair and soil stabilization. Depending on where you live, some states do have licensing requirements for those who perform such repair works.  Also, make sure they have previous experience with repairing retaining walls.

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Do Not Make Any Compromise With Quality

Never make any compromises or accept any short-cut solutions to your retaining wall problem. You might think this will save you some money.  But such repair jobs will not last long and you will need to repair them frequently. As a result, you will end up spending more in the end.

Keep in mind, when dealing with retaining walls, each job has to be custom designed. Because the water, soil and slope requirements differ from one property to another. And inferior quality tools and labor will cost you more in the long run.

Never Remove The Entire Retaining Wall

When you face any issues with a retaining wall, removing the entire damaged wall is not a good idea. In most cases, replacing or repairing only the damaged portion of the wall is more than enough.

And doing so will save you a lot of money. But there are situations where the wall is so severely damaged that it is not worth repairing at all or the cost is as much as building a new one. In this case, removing the entire wall and constructing a new one addressing all the previous flaws is a good idea.

Conclusion

Leaning retaining walls is a serious problem that should never be overlooked. Otherwise, your negligence could lead to some serious accidents. If you notice such a problem with any walls in your property, immediately seek help from experts to fix it. Hopefully, through this article, you now have a full idea of how to fix a leaning retaining wall. I hope I was of some help to you. Thanks for reading till the end!

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