The 7 Main Reasons Why Retaining Walls Fail And Need Help

These Are The Main Reasons Our Kansas City, Missouri Clients Contact Us To Help Fix Their Stone Retaining Walls
Old overgrown stone retaining wall

It’s always a great idea to know why something happens, especially when it has negative results. Then you can try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

In this post, you can find out the main reasons why retaining walls fail.

Why Does This Keep Happening?!

“This is so frustrating, why does the retaining wall keep failing!” snaps Michael.

Jennifer puts her hand on his shoulder. “I’m sorry hon, I know how much work you’ve been putting into that retaining wall.”

Michael sucks his teeth. “Yeah, well, if I could just figure out why retaining walls fail I’m sure I could fix it permanently.” Jennifer hands him her phone. “Then why don’t you Google ‘why do retaining walls fail’ and see what you can find?”

Michael smiles a small smile. “That’s a great idea hon. I know how much you want to put in plants there, so if I can’t solve it we can look into how much a retaining wall costs.”

Jennifer nods as Michael starts Googling. Here’s what he finds out:

7 Reasons Why Retaining Walls Fail

Collapsing stone retaining wall
  1. Bad subgrade or footing
  2. Improper drainage
  3. Improper backfill procedures
  4. Incorrect building materials
  5. Building on top of a retaining wall
  6. Errors
  7. Age

1. Bad Subgrade Or Footing

If the foundation of any structure is bad it will fall over.

It could be the dirt or gravel under the retaining wall is shifting or not compacted well.

Maybe whoever built it used capstones (the ones that go on the top) for the footing. Top stones aren’t as big as others, so it’s like building using the smallest blocks first.

2. Improper Drainage

Poor drainage can destroy your retaining wall.

If water can’t find an easy way out it’ll start forcing its way out. This can cause water to push against the wall and wear it down. It can also make the soil behind it heavier, which can push it over.

Even proper drainage systems can break down over time. If the damage becomes clear you may want to contact someone immediately.

3. Improper Backfill Procedures

The backfill for retaining walls is the soil behind them. This is what makes retaining walls different from normal walls.

If the backfill isn’t layered correctly so water can easily move down it, improper drainage damage can occur.

4. Incorrect Building Materials

Some people may use softer stones that’ll crumble. They may also use top row stones for the base and base stones for the top.