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Old 05-16-2016, 11:03 PM   #1
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Replacing retaining wall in front of old wall - options?


Hello everyone. New guy here!

I have 2 retaining walls that are failing (leaning out). They were failing 2.5 years ago when we purchased the house. I have no idea how old the walls are, but I'm thinking 10-20 years due to a few blocks actually cracked/crumbling.

The walls are on either side of the garage. The garage is on the basement level and is cut into the yard. I'm only replacing the taller wall right now, as that one is the worse of the 2.

The wall goes from 24 inches high to 48-50 inches over a 16 foot span on a slight curve. The tallest section is right next to the foundation. The yard is graded away from the house and slopes down to the smaller section of the wall. The wall was built with straight block in 3 different sections (I presume to accommodate the curve). It's being replaced with Belgard Celtik wall 90mm & 135mm block.

I started dismantling the wall and discovered it was built directly in front of an old wall. No drainage or fabric. Looks like dirt filling between the 2 walls and the freeze/thaw of the PA seasons is what is pushing the outer wall out. The inner wall, from what I can see so far, is still in good shape and not being pushed out, but it's ugly.

Is there any way I can properly build the new wall in front of the old wall and ensure it will not suffer the same fate? I can put fabric and stone between the wall for drainage, but the base row will have no room behind it for a drainage pipe.

If not and I have to remove the old wall too, I'd plan on doing a tiered wall, as at the highest point it would be 4ft above grade and another at least 6 inches below for the base row. Everything I've read says over 4ft should be engineered.

If I do a tiered wall, I can't decide between 24in/24in or 36in (bottom tier) and 12in (top tier). I'd put plants between the 2 to tie in with the rest of that side of the house (the entire side is planted). I would be able to do proper drainage as there is a drain at the lowest point in the wall. In my head (it's a scary place) i think the 36/12 would look better. In both, I think I could 'fade' the top tier into the yard and its lowest point.

I'll post pics as soon as it lets me.

Thanks!
Jason
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Old 05-16-2016, 11:26 PM   #2
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Re: Replacing retaining wall in front of old wall - options?


Pics time.

Here are the dimensions.




Top view to show grading


Where it meets the foundation


The sections weren't even tied together. you can also see the cracks that formed.




Old wall behind the soon to be old wall


Section closest to the house


and here's the 2nd project. The wife wants to remove the tree. I'm fighting it.


Can see it bowing out
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Old 07-04-2016, 09:43 PM   #3
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Re: Replacing retaining wall in front of old wall - options?


Well it's been a month and a half. Figured Id give an update.

There was a lot more full cinder blocks and pieces of cinder used as backfill than I thought. I have 2 piles of just scrap cinder block that was thrown in there plus 10ish full cinder blocs. Some spots had 2 rows of block! I'm leaving in the cinder that's closest to the house. That is still a solid chunk of wall and it's leaning in with no signs of moving. Less stress on my new wall. I did have to hammer out a good 2 inches of concrete where the floor drain is to make room for the new block.

In addition, they used a ton of river rock too. Some small pieces, some football sized. It made for a miserable time digging the trench. Some of the larger rocks were under the driveway, which is old brick. Needless to say, I need to learn how to lay brick now to fix the pieces that came up.

Also had a few tree roots, some 1in in diameter. There are two massive trees, one about 40 ft away, the other 20 ft away. Clearing these also pulled up some brick.

As for drainage, I drilled a horizontal 1in diameter hole in the concrete of the floor drain that runs the length in front of the garage. It worked perfectly as this was the lowest point in the wall.

I just roughly put the cap stone on to see if I had enough. It worked out and even the slight curves worked. I bought all of the block from Craigslist and it was used as a planter.. So the fact that it works but is not perfect is OK with me right now.

What it looked like after removing the old wall.


After removing the bushes and some of the cinder backfill.


After drilling the hole for drainage and hammering out some of the concrete. Luckily my neighbor had a pro Bosch rotary hammer/drill.


Almost finished.


That downspout now discharges right onto the top of the wall. I'm going to get a bigish pot and partially bury it behind the wall and empty the water in there. Will build an overflow and probably and valve for discharge to use for watering. That downspout is for a very small roof and doesn't get a lot of water.


Will start on the smaller upper tier of the wall soon, then put a small flower bed between the two.
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