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Retaining Walls

A retaining wall is a structure that holds back soil or rock from a building, structure or area. Retaining walls prevent downslope movement or erosion and provide support for vertical or near-vertical grade changes. Retaining walls are generally made of masonry, stone, brick, concrete, vinyl, steel or timber.

The design of the retaining wall should incorporate provisions for drainage of water that normally accumulates behind the wall. Otherwise, the hydrostatic pressures built up will cause structural failure of the wall. Drainage may be provided by installing continuous perforated drain lines at the lower portion of the wall, and backfilling the areas with stone and gravel. In concrete retaining walls, the perforated pipe is replaced by weep holes in the bottom of the walls that allow the water to exit through the front of the wall. The grade or soil at the base of the drainage system behind the wall should direct any water that accumulates to the weep holes. Unfortunately, retaining walls are often built with inadequate drainage provisions. The gravel backfill or the drain line may be omitted, or the weep holes may be too few or too small to be effective. The weep holes should be kept clear so that the water behind the wall can adequately drain.



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