Help on Retainer Wall!


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Old 08-11-14, 01:11 PM
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Help on Retainer Wall!

I need help on my retainer wall. I don't know too much of the fundamentals but here are the details of my situation.

Many years ago, a contractor built a 4-layer brick retainer wall at the bottom of a very steep (>60 degrees) in my backyard. Originally, on one side, the grass used to be completely flat. But, now after many years, there is an actual small hill forming on this side. From my memory, I don't think the contractor built the wall very deep. The fact that the contractor didn't build below the frost line causing soil to be pushed up from the other side? Should I be worried? What can I do to stop this?

Additionally, on the other side, I am assuming due to the rain, it seems like the steep hill has gotten even steeper. This steep hill has no grass because there are these big trees that prevent significant light. Instead, I planted many shrubs and flowers with several trees. I might be wrong but it seems that the soil is getting carried away by the water and the trees' roots are now showing. Can the rain be causing soil erosion? If so, what can I do to stop it?
 
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Old 08-11-14, 01:40 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

How about some pictures: http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...-pictures.html
 
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Old 08-11-14, 02:46 PM
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if you're in sussex county, you'll get frost depth,,, if you're in ocean or hudson, you won't get as much frost - where're you ?
 
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Old 08-11-14, 03:42 PM
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Are you sure the wall is made of brick. Four layers of brick would only be about 12" high. A steep hill of 60 degrees (very unlikely or possible) offers little retaining resistance if is very high.

A drawing showing the height of the wall (in inches) or a couple photos would help give a better description what you are looking at as far as magnitude.

A 12" high brick wall offers little resistance to any soil loads (lateral or frost).

Dick
 
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Old 08-12-14, 07:21 AM
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Thanks for all your help!

I'm located in Essex County. So, I'm north of Ocean and Hudson. I'll try to take some pictures when I get the chance.

The wall isn't very high. Perhaps, about 1 foot. And, the slope is perhaps not 60 degrees but close to it. It's pretty steep. It's definitely more than 45 degrees.

The wall doesn't seem to be falling over or anything. It's just that on one side, the land used to be flat but now, a hill is forming up against this small wall. This has gotten me worried. I don't know if there is pressure coming from under the wall. Or perhaps, water is slowing coming over the wall which carries soil with it which is slowing creating this hill. I have no idea.

I don't even know who I'm supposed to contact for something like this. Do I contact an engineer? Would I have to rebuild the wall so that it's built deeper? I'd like to avoid this since that would cost a lot of money.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 09:13 AM
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Here are pictures of the wall. Now, looking at it, I didn't realize the wall was in such bad condition. It looks like the wall is about to fall over. I'm assuming that the wall has to be completely taken down and redone although if it's possible to just repair it, it would be great. Any advice would be appreciated.

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Old 08-12-14, 09:51 AM
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The pictures tell the tale - time to rebuild.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 12:42 PM
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Is rebuilding definitely mandatory in this case? (Does everyone agree?)

If so, what do I look for in a contractor? The person I used apparently wasn't qualified. This was built perhaps about 5-10 years ago.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 01:57 PM
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I vote for having the wall rebuilt. I think it's too far gone to try to correct what's there. If you want to make absolutely sure the project is done correctly, hire a professional engineer to evaluate what you have, and work up a set of formal plans/specifications for how the new wall should be constructed. Using those plans will mean that all prospective bidders will be bidding on the same thing, instead of building what they think may work. The engineer you hire could even monitor the wall's construction, to make sure it's done properly.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 02:24 PM
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Is the retaining wall separating two separate properties or do you own all of it?
 
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Old 08-12-14, 03:16 PM
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I own all of it.

Is a professional engineer required in this project? Or, would simply vetting out contractors who have experience in this type of work will be enough? I'm not sure how much an engineer will cost but my finances aren't the greatest right now.
 
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Old 08-12-14, 03:48 PM
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Every local government's building department has its own requirements for which projects require the services of an engineer. For retaining walls, it usually depends on the height of the wall, with lower walls like yours not normally requiring a P.E. Call your local building department for specifics on what they require. They might also be able to furnish you with names of qualified retaining wall contractors that have good performance reputations.

You may want to have someone with construction experience be on site with you when wall contractors come to give quotes. Take good notes, ask lots of questions, and look for specifics in the quotes. A contractor saying he'll "build you a wall back there," without providing any details of his process or materials, is one to stay away from.
 
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Old 08-13-14, 02:44 AM
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no engineer nec - find a neighborhood kid, have him remove the pavers, slope back the bank, & relay the pavers w/an angle against the bank,,, good for another 5 - 10 years,,, we worked in nj/ny/ct/pa + owned homes in belmar, allamuchy, denville, & gladstone,,, you're fine - good luck
 
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Old 08-13-14, 06:30 AM
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I agree with Bridgeman. Before you do any work, consult with the local building code department. In our area you don't need a P.E. for any wall under 4'.
 
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Old 08-14-14, 02:52 AM
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i agree w/bdge & wz, too,,, HOWEVER, from your description, i'd guess your locals would classify it more as landscape edging than a retaining wall,,, but that's just me,,, anyway, what's the worst that can happen if you do nothing ? those bricks fall down 9" - 12" i doubt they'll be damaged a bit,,, do as you wish,,, i'll bet by the time you get someone to ' inspect ' from your local govt, you'd have had it long put back into place ready for another 5 - 10yrs of satisfying service

try calling essex cty - unless you're in newark, its essex cty - newark would have their own dept

btw, here in some counties, ' retaining walls ' over 2' high require bldg permits w/2 inspections, stamp'd drawings w/permit application, stamped drawings for stormwater runoff permit ( 3 inspections ),,, this can easily add $ 5K + to the wall's cost,,, now you know why there're so many landscape edgings,,, talking w/inspectors quikly reveals they know zip however they do have a job & all the employee numbers work well
 
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Old 08-14-14, 08:30 AM
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Thanks for all the help, guys. Greatly appreciated.

Are there any specific questions I should ask the contractor to vet him out? For example, ask him how deep he is to build the wall?
 
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Old 08-14-14, 08:31 AM
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I would certainly start with something like, "This wall failed - what will you do differently so that yours does not?"
 
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Old 08-14-14, 01:57 PM
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omg can't you find a kid in the neighborhood ? what might have cost $100 for a kid to relay these bricks will now increase to north of $ 550,,, either that or everyone has better monitors than mine
 
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Old 08-14-14, 02:55 PM
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There is no reason to call the building dept. The problem is that there was no footing & no mortar to hold the wall in place. If you correct that, the wall will outlive us.
 
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Old 08-14-14, 04:24 PM
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The problem is that there was no footing & no mortar to hold the wall in place. If you correct that, the wall will outlive us.
Stacked retaining walls like this do not require concrete foundations and mortar and the manufactures of the blocks actually do not recommend the use of concrete foundations and mortar. The foundation should be excavated and a compacted gravel base should be installed. The retaining wall blocks should then be stacked further manufacturers recommendations. In most cases the walls and backfilled with gravel topped with dirt. The block manufactures have more precise installation instructions. In extreme cases the blocks are pinned together but normally that's not utilized for walls this short.
 
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Old 08-14-14, 04:42 PM
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If footings & mortar aren't required, why isn't the wall still in it's original position?
 
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Old 08-14-14, 05:02 PM
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If footings & mortar aren't required, why isn't the wall still in it's original position?
The wall could certainly still have been installed incorrectly. If a compacted stone footer was not put in place prior to its erection or if a proper gravel backfill wasn't used to allow for drainage would be a couple examples of how it would fail. Here's the webpage from one of the leading manufacturers of retaining wall blocks with instructions about how to install them: Gravity Retaining Wall Construction
 
 

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