Stone Retaining Wall Repair
Stone retaining walls are used for holding dirt back in a sloping yard. Many homeowners choose to beautify their landscape with a raised wall by planting shrubs and flowers and creating an elevated garden bed. Over time and exposure to freeze/thaw cycles, stone walls can develop cracks and stones can loosen. Stone retaining wall repair and renovations are necessary to keep the wall intact and hold dirt back.
- Mix 1/4 cup of a mild liquid soap or detergent into a bucket of warm water. You can also use available stone and masonry cleaner. .
- Start at the top of the wall and work your way down. Dip a broom or scrub brush into the soapy water and scrub the stone wall.
- Spray the wall with water from a hose to rinse.
Cracking Mortar Joints
- Chisel old and cracked mortar joint. Hit the chisel with a 2-lb. hammer to fracture the mortar. Chisel along the mortar line and continue to hit until all of the damaged mortar breaks and remove by hand. Clean the mortar joint with a wire brush to remove small pieces of stuck masonry.
- Combine dry mortar mix and water according to the manufacturer’s measurements and directions in a trough, wheelbarrow or large bucket.
- Wet the mortar joints with water with a spray bottle. Do not apply mortar to dry stones because the stones will pull the water out of the mortar. This will cause the mortar to fall apart once it dries.
- Pick up wet mortar on a trowel and load it in a mortar bag. Position the tip of the mortar bag into the joint between stones and squeeze the bag along the mortar joints. Fill in all void joints and refill the mortar bag as necessary.
- Using a jointing tool on the mortar joint and pull it along while pressing the mortar in to create a smooth mortar joint.
- Clean the edges of the crack with a wire brush.
- Crack fillers require a clean surface for proper adhesion and bonding. Vacuum the dirt, masonry dust and debris out of the split with a shop vacuum.
- Begin at the end of the crack and work toward the opposite end. Insert the tip of a tube of an epoxy-based masonry crack filler into the crack. Squeeze the tube to inject the epoxy-based filler into the crack to seal it.
In addition to supporting their own weight, stone retaining walls must resist lateral forces due to the soil being retained. Expansive clay soils saturated with water, which can build tremendous force, especially with slow-to-drain retaining area.
Special provisions should be made when repairing a retaining wall:
• It should have a pitch, so it leans toward the soil it’s retaining.
• The use of tie-backs, also know as (dead-man anchors), should be installed to tie the wall into soil well behind the wall.
• Drains should be installed behind the foot of the wall to move water away, to relieve pressure that can build up and push against the wall.
• If the soil is loose or subject to freezing; footings or a bed of compacted gravel, can be used to support the wall.
Homeowners have two choices when a retaining is starting to lean outward or is being pushed outward. Either demolish the wall, re-excavate, re-install drains and rebuild, or call a landscaping specialist to help solve the problem.
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