Collapsing Retaining Wall

Retaining Wall Repair Near Lexington, Richmond, Georgetown

a retaining wall installed in Georgetown

This old retaining wall was damaged by flooding during Hurricane Sandy.

Retaining walls are common along roadways, parking lots and bodies of water. Basement walls are also a type of retaining wall -- and similar repair options are available for both.

The Problem:

Your retaining wall is showing signs of failure.

What is a Retaining Wall?

Retaining walls are used to hold back soil and substrate from moving due to the effects of gravity and erosion.  More specifically, they serve to retain the lateral pressure of soil.  Concrete, wood (including railroad ties), masonry, stone, brick, vinyl, or steel are typical materials that retaining walls are designed out of. 

Telltale Signs:

  • Tilting Walls
  • Separation of Retaining Wall from Adjoining Walls
  • Forward Movement of Wall or Wall Sections
  • Buckling, Cracked, or Crumbling Walls
  • Rotted Wood

How to Fix It:

We install either a wall anchor system or helical tieback system along the retaining wall to reinforce the structure.

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We serve Richmond, Lexington, Georgetown, and many nearby areas in Kentucky.

Identifying Retaining Wall Failure

Signs of a failing retaining wall are usually easy to identify, as shown in the different examples below. The important thing to know is that these symptoms will become increasingly worse over time. Unless proper repairs are made, the wall will eventually fail completely.

Signs Of A Failing Retaining Wall

Most often, a retaining wall will show signs of failure in one of three ways:

a failing retaining wall around a driveway in Lexington

Collapsing/Tilting Retaining Walls

Poor construction and/or soil issues are often the reasons for tilting retaining walls.  If the wall wasn't properly reinforced or the footing toe is too small, tilting can definitely occur.  In addition, retaining walls created from railroad ties can collapse due to deterioration or wood rot. 

Most retaining walls require drainage "weeps". If water accumulates behind the wall, this additional weight can cause clay soils to expand, leading to cracks and tilting.

A retaining wall separating from the adjoining walls in Columbia

Retaining Walls Separating From Adjacent Walls

Retaining walls that are separating from adjacent walls are often caused by poor quality construction, just like collapsing/tilting retaining walls.

Poor drainage, inadequate reinforcement, poor design to withstand the weight that bears on the wall and expansive soils are all possible causes for a separating retaining wall. 

A collapsing, crumbling retaining wall in Pine Knot

Crumbling/Failing Retaining Walls

The improper design of the wall itself is a major reason that retaining walls crumble or fail.  Besides this, though, the walls can crumble for a wide variety of reasons. 

Many times the retaining wall was not designed to bear the weight load behind it.  Inadequate, weak, or poorly mixed concrete can be the cause of a failing concrete retaining wall.  Furthermore, concrete retaining walls may also have been designed with inadequate steel rebar, resulting in insufficient strength.

Repairing Retaining Walls

A diagram of a foundation wall anchor system installation.
A graphic depiction of a helical wall anchor system installation.

(Above) A wall anchor system relies on the fixed position of an earth anchor and clamping pressure from an anchor rod.

(Below) A helical anchor system utilizes helix-shaped plates welded to the anchor shaft to pull the anchor deep into the soil.

At The Basement Doctor of Central Kentucky we typically recommend either wall anchors or helical tiebacks to repair retaining walls and restore their structural integrity.

Both wall anchors and helical tiebacks are solutions that your foundation repair contractor will use to return the wall back to its original position, restoring its appearance and structural integrity.  These methods use strong steel wall brackets on the exterior of the retaining wall to brace the wall and distribute the anchor's clamping pressure.

Wall anchors accomplish this by driving an anchor rod through 1" holes driven into the retaining wall. These rods are connected to earth anchors that are placed within augured holes within the soil beyond the retaining wall.

Once assembled, the wall plate is installed and the rod assembly is tightened. This can potentially straighten the wall and return it to its original position.

Similar to wall anchors, helical anchors are installed from the exposed face of the retaining wall through a hole cut in the wall. 

The anchor's helical blades help to pull it deep into the soil and anchor it there.  To ensure strength and stability, a wall plate is installed and a nut is tightened over the protruding threaded rod to brace the wall.  This closes up the hole and keeps it in place.

To repair a retaining wall, wall anchors are a generally more economical solution.  Although this is true, in some cases wall anchor installation is not a possibility and helical anchor installation must be considered.

This includes situations where rocky soil is an issue, or when space restrictions make auguring a hole beyond the retaining wall an impractical solution. Your foundation repair specialist will be able to advise you on the most appropriate solution for you.

Learn about our foundation wall anchor system.

What NOT To Do

Like other solutions for structural issues, you will encounter many options for repairing your retaining wall. Here are two "fixes" that we at The Basement Doctor of Central Kentucky do NOT recommend:

Rusted wall plate anchors in a retaining wall repair in Williamsburg.

Our wall anchor systems are designed with galvanized steel to help protect from rust and corrosion.

Removing & Rebuilding The Retaining Wall:

Completely removing and rebuilding a retaining wall is an expensive, time-consuming process typically involving heavy equipment, major excavation, extra labor and the loss of valuable landscaping features. 

Poor Quality Wall Anchors:

Poor quality wall anchors may have many negative effects on your retaining wall. Anchors that are poorly made or not treated to resist corrosion will quickly look old and unattractive. This, in turn, will lower the property value and possibly lead to early failure of the wall anchor system.  

Because retaining wall anchors are exposed to the elements - both in the soil and on the wall plates themselves - we recommend installing walls anchors made with galvanized steel

We Repair Retaining Walls In KY!

At The Basement Doctor of Central Kentucky, we provide reliable solutions for retaining wall repair throughout Kentucky. For homeowners interested in learning more about their unique problem, we offer free, written retaining wall repair quotes at no obligation. To schedule an appointment with one of our specialists, call or e-mail us today!

We proudly serve Kentucky areas such as Winchester, Frankfort, Nicholasville, Shelbyville, Berea, Middlesboro, Danville, Hazard, East Bernstadt, Williamsburg, Pine Knot, Columbia and nearby.

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our service area

We serve the following areas

  • Allen
  • Auxier
  • Banner
  • Beaver
  • Betsy Layne
  • Bevinsville
  • Blue River
  • Boons Camp
  • Burdine
  • Bypro
  • Dana
  • Drift
  • Dwale
  • East Point
  • Eastern
  • Flatgap
  • Grethel
  • Hagerhill
  • Harold
  • Hi Hat
  • Isonville
  • Ivel
  • Jenkins
  • Keaton
  • Lackey
  • Langley
  • Martin
  • Mc Dowell
  • Meally
  • Melvin
  • Minnie
  • Oil Springs
  • Paintsville
  • Prestonsburg
  • Printer
  • River
  • Sitka
  • Staffordsville
  • Stambaugh
  • Stanville
  • Teaberry
  • Thelma
  • Tram
  • Tutor Key
  • Van Lear
  • Weeksbury
  • West Van Lear
  • Wheelwright
  • Williamsport
  • Wittensville
Our Locations:

The Basement Doctor of Central Kentucky
22 Reilly Rd
Frankfort, KY 40601