Retaining Wall Problems


Old 09-23-12, 06:35 PM
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Retaining Wall Problems

I'm a homeowner. Our railroad cross tie retaining wall needs a bit of repair plus the addition of another row to increase the walls height.


1. Our approximate 4' high (current) x 15' long cross tie retretaining wall is located on the back north corner of our 60' wide x 100' long city residential lot. The length of the retaining wall lessens from top to bottom. Our cross tie retaining wall is approximately 19 years old (built when our home was built). The wall is constructed so that ground water from our left rear yard filters through the retaining wall onto the neighbors property. It was built per city code.

2. This vertical non-offset retaining wall is on the property line between our lot and that of our rear neighbor. Our lot sits atop a hill. The back yard slops down to the same level as the neighbor except for the portion along the retaining wall. The neighbors house is approximately 5' below grade of both the street and our current retaining wall. The neighbors front lawn slopes down to their house. The neighbor has a french drain running alongside and past our retaining wall in their side yard.

3. We need to add an additional top row because of ground height changes to the section of our yard situated along our retaining wall.


1. Our retaining wall has a slight outward lean.

2. Approximately 6" of one deadhead has deteriorated thus leaving a crevice in the wall.

3. We are working with a shoe string budget so the retaining wall cannot be torn down and replaced with a new one.



1. Is there any way to correct the lean or brace the wall to keep it from leaning futher out of level?

2. Am I correct in assuming that if there is no way to correct the lean then the new additional top row should be shimmed to level?

3. What should we use to fill the open crevice in front of the deteriorated deadhead end?


Thank you in advance for your help.
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Old 09-24-12, 05:43 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

A pic or two might help us better understand what you are dealing with -

I doubt you can correct the lean without tearing the wall down but you should be able to reuse the RR ties.
Old 09-24-12, 05:57 AM
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Thank you for replying. I wii take a number of photograhs today.
Old 09-24-12, 06:38 AM
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Just from your word description I don't know of an easy & inexpensive fix. If it has an outward lean the soil pressure behind is slowly pushing it over. And, I assume the rotten end of the dead head you mention is where it's visible and attaches to the wall? Probably meaning that that dead head is no longer working to anchor the wall back into the hill. I also assume that the rail road ties were old/used ones when the wall was built, meaning they had reached the end of their useful life for the railroad and their days are numbered. After almost 20 years in direct contact with soil I assume they are not in the best condition.

Without seeing the pictures here are some options that quickly come to mind:

1. Tear it down and re-build. Best but expensive.

2. You could excavate the back, uphill side. Replace the rotten dead head and any other rotten timbers. Back fill and put in a layer of gravel next to the timbers to help aid drainage and prevent the ties from being constantly damp.

3. You can install or hire a professional to install anchors through the wall and back into solid soil to stabilize your wall. Basically a hole is drilled through your retaining wall and a very long screw/auger is run deep into the soil. Then a steel plate and nut are tightened against the retaining wall, giving it support

Old 09-24-12, 06:48 AM
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Thank you for the very thorough reply.

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