Your block retaining walls on your property serve a dual purpose – they both help provide soil stability and terracing while also adding a decorative touch the landscaping. Like most outdoor surfaces, these walls do require a small amount of annual maintenance. It is especially important to stay on top of it since a damaged or failing wall can lead to structural damage that goes far beyond the wall itself. The following tips can help you avoid issues:
Tip #1: Maintain the landscape
Weeds and tree roots can be the largest problem with a retaining wall. They can work their way into the base, compromising soil stability or forcing cracks apart. When growing behind the wall in the supporting soil, they can put stress on the wall and force it outward. Don't allow plants to grow right up against the wall. Also, avoid planting trees and shrubs with large root systems too closely to the wall.
Tip #2: Monitor your chemical usage
Chemical damage can cause concrete walls to chip and slowly degrade. The most common type of chemical damage is from salt. Salts in fertilizers or ice melt solutions are usually to blame. Avoid getting these items on the wall directly. If you do, rinse or sweep it off immediately so that damage doesn't occur. Also, never use plain table salt or rock salt to melt ice on or near your retaining walls.
Tip #3: Plan an annual inspection
Inspect the wall at least once a year for any signs of problems. You are mainly looking for bulging and shifting of the blocks. If your wall has a bulge or otherwise has shifted, a prompt repair is necessary to take the weight off the wall and repair the bulge, otherwise, it may fall down. Cracks can also be a concern, so you will want to make note of any cracks and plan for a repair if the crack seems to be growing longer or wider.
Tip #4: Clean with care
If a wall seems dirty, you can clean it. The most common way is to use a pressure washer at the low-pressure setting. This removes dirt and moss. Avoid higher pressure settings, since this can damage the concrete or the mortar between blocks. Another option is to use a deck brush to scrub the blocks. Low-acid cleaners made for concrete can also be used, just test them in a small area first to make sure they don't damage the wall.
Talk to your retaining wall contractor for more help. Contact a company like Retaining Walls Inc for more information and assistance.