Retaining wall repair can be a simple and safe project to tackle, even for the novice do-it-yourselfer. The key is to limit your repairs to just those where a portion of the wall is not likely to fail and fall on you, or one where you allow tons of dirt or debris to pour through the wall break. Limit your repairs to minor repairs. Avoid trying to repair walls that are leaning or where large areas are bulging. Also limit repairs to one or two bricks that have become loose, or to repairs of loose mortar around one or two bricks along the top row. To perform simple retaining wall repairs, it is best to follow a set of guidelines you know will make your work safe.
Digging or Excavating
Your retaining wall will always need a solid foundation if the wall is to remain safe and solid. Digging around your wall's foundation can easily make the wall less stable and more likely to tip or crumble. If you feel you must dig or excavate at the foot of the wall, limit your digging to a shallow area no larger than a foot or two in area and no deeper than a few inches. When the dirt you have removed is finally replaced, be sure it is tamped solidly to give your wall a firm and solid foundation.
Using Rebar for Stability
Some bricks, and all concrete blocks, are manufactured with holes through their centers. If the brick or blocks of your wall have these holes, and if you plan to repair the bricks or blocks in this wall, you can sometimes insure the stability of your wall by driving lengths of rebar through these holes and into the ground beneath the wall. These rebar lengths will not likely hold back the weight of large, heavy walls or the dirt and debris that is behind them, but it can add at least a small degree of safety to work on smaller walls.
Removing Soil from Your Wall
If the wall you plan to repair is no higher than two or three feet, you may be able to repair large sections without fear of being injured. But be sure the soil or debris supported by the wall is not likely to collapse the wall and cause injury to you or others standing near the wall. In repairing these smaller walls, you can often remove the soil or debris that is retained by your wall before beginning repairs. When you use this retaining wall repair procedure, be sure any mortar you use to repair the wall is dry and secure before replacing the soil you removed.
Selecting Safe Wall Areas to Repair
Some areas of retaining walls are more safe to repair than others. Often you can remove and repair areas at the top or ends of a wall without concern for weakening the wall and causing it to collapse. The most dangerous part of the wall to repair will almost always be the center section.