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Structural Engineering Services: Preventing Retaining Wall Failures through Regular Inspections

26 March 2021

Retaining walls have been very useful for the construction industry, especially for most of its projects. These walls are relatively rigid and strong walls that can hold back and support soil laterally and maintain their positioning. They help in binding layers of soil between elevations in areas that may contain undesirable or unstable slopes. They likewise assist in retaining the soil at different levels on two sides.

With their primary functions, retaining walls can easily provide benefits to different properties and structures. They can effectively improve the appearance of properties given that they can be paired with appealing landscape features. They can also provide a useful flat or slope area. Site drainage is likewise improved with the existence of retaining walls, as long as it follows the regulations set by the state. Maintenance of the property can also be simplified thanks to the presence of retaining walls.

Common Causes of Retaining Wall Failures

Now, even with a high-quality construction of retaining walls, they can still face some issues and problems in the long run. Some of the most common causes of retaining wall failures are as follows.

  • Improper Placement: The size, depth, and spacing of the steel reinforcement must be correct to ensure that the whole retaining wall can be supported. However, even if these elements are appropriate, the retaining wall can still fail if the reinforcement was installed on the wrong side.
  • Saturated Backfill: The backfill that will be used for the retaining wall must be granular and well-drained. But if it is stilled filled with surface water, the backfill might put heavy pressure against the wall, causing the latter to fail tremendously.
  • Erroneous Calculations: Professionals who are in charge of building retaining walls are expected to prevent any errors in their computations. However, they could still be provided with faulty information and details that could easily lead to calculation errors in terms of designing the retaining wall. 

Other possible causes of retaining wall failures include aging, unexpected loads, detailing mishaps, and foundation problems.

The Significance of Regular Inspections

Faulty retaining walls can cause serious issues to the whole property or structure, which is why regular inspections of these walls must be conducted. Inspections must also be done to ensure that the walls can effectively prevent instances of erosion, subsidence, and landslides. The absence of these issues can ultimately avoid property damages and safety issues within the property that the retaining walls hold onto.

Regular inspections of retaining walls must likewise be conducted as they can obtain the effects of weather and other unexpected geological movements. These inspections can determine if the walls are still intact or if they have already obtained damages due to flooding, cyclones, strong winds, earthquakes, drought, and erosion. Once damages are spotted, restorations and repairs can be done immediately.

To have your retaining walls inspected by professionals, feel free to contact us at Fairdinkum Technical Services. We are a boutique organisation with operation centres located in New South Wales and Queensland, with over 35 years of experience in engineering design and construction. Our structural engineering consulting services include design and inspection during construction of access structures, machinery platforms, walkways, ladders and gantries, beams and support frames in reinforced concrete.

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