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A damaged retaining wall can become a hazard to property and human safety. Understanding and recognizing the causes of retaining wall failure can help you avoid costly repairs.
The following are common problems, along with tips to prevent retaining wall failure:
· Rotting (if wood)
· Crumbling (if concrete)
· Soil separation
· Water pooling (look around the base)
· Fractures or shifting
How Can You Mitigate Damage to Your Retaining Wall
Fill in Eroded Areas. If you've identified erosion areas, you will want to replace any missing soil quickly to stop erosion from worsening.
Add Plants. Soil integrity is critical to the structural integrity of your wall. If the soil behind it starts to loosen, the wall can collapse.
One way to help keep the dirt compact and sturdy is to use plants to maintain your retaining wall. Their roots will help hold the soil in place and reduce erosion.
Overflowing Saturation. If the ground behind your retaining wall does not drain properly, you will begin to experience failure. When water collects and puddles behind the retaining wall, the pressure against the wall can easily double. To prevent this, you may need to ensure that your yard is graded correctly to direct water away from the wall.
Foundation Settlement. Retaining walls are built to keep soil materials from falling. However, the soil underneath a retaining wall can begin to compress or subside, causing the wall to settle. Unfortunately, if the retaining wall settles enough, the entire wall can fail.
Seek Professional Services. We recommend that you hire a professional if you have a retaining wall to assess your wall for damages and make necessary repairs.
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The code enforcement process is typically initiated in several ways: 1) observation of a code violation by Town staff as they patrol the community and do their jobs; 2) as a consequence of an action (for example, an application for a building permit or a request for a zoning variance); or 3) in response to a complaint by an individual.
A complaint about a possible code violation is made by letter, telephone, email, or in-person to the appropriate Town department. In an average year, the Town receives thousands of complaints related to possible code enforcement violations.
Please be prepared with specific information, such as the property's address, a detailed description of the situation, and the length of time you have observed the situation. Complaints may be made anonymously (however, this may restrict the Town's ability to follow up on the complaint or obtain additional details that might assist in resolving the situation).
Town staff responds to code enforcement complaints according to the impact of the violation on the community. Situations that appear to pose a serious risk to health and safety are given top priority; others are pursued in the order in which they are received.
For all types of code complaints, the first step in the follow-up procedure is personal contact by a Town staff member to ascertain if a code violation exists and request remediation. Suppose the individual responsible for the situation is not available or appears unwilling to correct the code violation in a timely manner voluntarily. In that case, a notice of violation or a citation may be issued. The Town may also take court action if the situation poses a significant risk to the community or if the individual has ignored previous notices/citations.
The Town is responsible for maintaining, repairing, or replacing retaining walls located on Town-owned property.
Property owners are responsible for maintaining, repairing, or replacing retaining walls located on their property. The Town is not legally allowed to spend public funds on private property.
An HOA is responsible when the wall is placed in an HOA maintenance easement or located on the HOA property.
(5)Retaining walls dividing properties. When a retaining wall is placed along a shared property line, the maintenance of the retaining wall shall be the sole responsibility of the property owner whose land is located at the higher elevation of the adjacent properties. Learn more here.