Retaining Wall - Huge problem?

Discussion in 'Hardscaping' started by DestanyF, Oct 8, 2009.

  1. DestanyF

    DestanyF LawnSite Member
    from KC MO
    Messages: 3

    Hello, I'm new to this site, just having found it this morning. I'm no professional landscaper, my husband and I maintain 2 other yards in our neighborhood. That's the extent of our "business". However, I have a big problem with my retaining wall. I think it's pretty serious, but I need informed opinions before I get taken to the cleaners.
    We bought this house a year ago and the retaining wall had been patched along the top in places. It's about 90 years old. Our house is built along a slope, though the plot has been mostly levelled and as a result, we have about a five to six foot drop from our front yard to the street, held in with this stone wall. Drainage is good, the wall is just old. Last Spring, we noticed a fissure near the front corner beside the driveway. The crack begins at the top of the wall, and goes down approximately 3.5 feet. It's deep and goes all the way through the wall.
    Sorry you can't see much in these photos, my camera quit but I can try to get some with my phone later if needed.
    I'm very worried about losing the front of my wall, or at least a large section of the front corner. I live in Missouri and our winters generally involve several freezing/thawing periods. I know ice forming in that crack and expanding repeatedly will certainly damage it further, if not force it to completely separate. The cost of a new wall is far beyond our means, at least for now.

    Is there anything I can do about this on my own to prolong the wall until we can afford to replace it? Is there any fixing this with out ripping it out and rebuilding it? Any suggestions at all?


  2. coolluv

    coolluv LawnSite Platinum Member
    from Atlanta
    Messages: 4,509

    If its been there 90 years, and from the looks of it it probably has been. I wouldn't worry about it. It will probably be there another 90 years.

    Unless there has been some significant bulging or leaning I wouldn't worry about it.

    Just my 2 cents.

  3. punt66

    punt66 LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 8,536

    mortor the cracks and have a glass of wine. Its not going anywhere unless its bulging or leaning.
  4. Isobel

    Isobel LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 548

    is the wall leaning at all? is it bulging outwards? you'll often see cracks develop on the mortar lines--that's fairly normal.

    We really need more pictures of the wall: face, the top, everything.
  5. tthomass

    tthomass LawnSite Gold Member
    from N. VA
    Messages: 3,498

    More pictures. Need to see down the wall etc.....not just close ups. Yes, you have a problem but the question is how long has it been a problem (perhaps its mostly stopped if it has been that way for 20 yrs). The quick fix is remove the existing joint and put new mortar in its place but if the wall is still moving it will crack again.

    Odds are any drainage behind the wall is clogged and long gone. You say it drains well...well how does it drain? Does water run out one side of the wall, does it flow over the wall or does it have piping and comes through the wall?
  6. DestanyF

    DestanyF LawnSite Member
    from KC MO
    Messages: 3

    Thank you so much for your responses, I appreciate the insight. I'll have to get some more photos in the morning, it's rainy here and too dark. I did take these this morning though. I'm sorry for the poor quality and their size. If you look close you can see the cracking on both faces of the wall.




    There is no bulging or leaning, what concerns me most is the cracking that has now started on the front face of the wall (street side) in the past few weeks. The large crack (in that top post) is on the wall that faces the driveway. It only showed up this past spring. And now around that corner, there has been more cracking and I worry about that corner.
    I should also mention that the cap that is sitting on top of the wall in the second photo is just sitting there. It actually came loose and I found it sitting in the yard a week ago and put it back up there.
    But it would be great if I can fix this all up with some patchwork - assuming I can figure out what caused it to do this and take care of that.

    There are pipes through the wall and it's done the job for nearly a century, however, I can see if they need cleaned out?
  7. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,580

    Destany - I believe you have the prettiest toes I've ever seen on this forum :)

  8. Stone Creations

    Stone Creations LawnSite Member
    Messages: 37

    I would clean out the broken joints, replace mortar and drill weep holes about 4-6" above the bottom to release some water pressure..other than that she should last a few more winters...
  9. DVS Hardscaper

    DVS Hardscaper LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,580

    That's a pretty good size crack. (in the wall, that is).

    Sure you can fix it. But there is something causing it to crack. Basically the soil behind it is bearing down on the wall and placing alotta pressure on the wall. So first you gotta find a way to alleviate the pressure.
  10. DestanyF

    DestanyF LawnSite Member
    from KC MO
    Messages: 3

    Ah thanks DVS! :blush: OK, it sounds good, I believe part of the problem is a channel that has developed around the base of my lilac bush, forcing water into that corner whenever it rains. I can fill that in to stop it doing that, and I like the weepholes solution. Patch, patch, patch! Thank you all for your help!

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