Apr 02, 2014

    Retaining Walls and whats is it for?

    "The main purpose of a retaining wall is that they help withstand the tremendous pressure amounts, transform a hilly terrain into a structure that is viable and holds back the soil and substrate from moving due to erosion or gravity"

    Civil engineering practices, in the last 30 years, have revolutionized the building of huge retaining walls due to the construction and design advancements. The current techniques and technologies have paved the way for the project teams to come up with walls that have been designed to give more support to the steeper slopes weight making the process cost effective. The MSE (mechanically stabilized earth) are known to fail disquietingly at a rate of 1:1000. This just points out the increase in the risk of falling. Many developers have shied away from getting involved in projects that involve large retaining walls due to the astonishing rate. This could adversely affect many project owners and developers if this trend continues thus deprivation of a structural system that is economically valuable.

    The retaining walls’ construction is aesthetically appealing as it adds dimension, texture and architectural lines to a landscape. The walls are also functional. Concrete, wood, stone, vinyl, masonry, brick or steel are the materials used in the construction of a retaining wall.

    The construction and design of a retaining wall is an intricate process especially the MSE walls that require complex designs, constructions and inspections. The entire project of constructing an MSE wall should be worked out in an organized fashion and treated as a complex engineering structure.
    A weak design is the contributing factor to their failure since more often than not they are not capable of bearing the load. If the retaining wall is concrete, poorly mixed or inadequate concrete may result to its failure. Also, water, a common engineering arch-rival and inadequate steel rebar in designing leads to the crumbling of a retaining wall. An example of a retaining wall that collapsed happened in January 2010 in San Antonio, Texas. The wall that was large scale disintegrated resulting to the collapse of a nearby housing estate whereby more than 80 houses were, into the housing development known as the Rivermist subdivision, evacuated.

    "Tie Backs Drilling,  Shafts Drilling or Helical Piles, Micro Piles and Wall Anchors are the best possible solutions to repairing a ruined retaining wall"

    These techniques help in the restoration of the wall’s appearance and its structural integrity. Both practices use a strong steel wall bracket on the retaining wall’s outer surface so as to support the wall in the distribution of the anchor’s clamping pressure. The wall anchors can achieve this by having an anchor rod drove into the wall. The rod will then connect with the earth anchors which are inside the soil. the rod assembly is then tightened and the wall plate placed. This whole process straightens out the wall to the position it previously had. The helical anchors, that help pull in deep in the soil and anchor it, are installed from the visible face of the retaining wall. a wall plate is then installed, once the retaining’s wall hole is closed and a nut fastened on the threaded rod that is projected to buttress the wall.

    Though a retaining wall’s project design varies from one structure to another, there is a generic way of going round it. There is a step-by step approach followed usually in the undertaking of a retaining wall’s project.The civil engineer will first decide the retaining wall’s location. The geotechnical engineer will then find out the geotechnical parameters for stability and design by evaluating the rock or soil that will be at the very rear end of the wall and beneath it as well. The structural engineer will come in next and complete the wall’s appearance with the detailed architectural and design works. The wall supplier will in the meantime provide the wall materials, the surveyor decide on the wall site and finally a contractor to do the construction bit. An inspector or a construction manager will then come in to supervise the whole project. When looked at closely, the process is actually an intricate one despite it seeming so simple. If done thoroughly and meticulously, the retaining wall’s construction from its design to the planning culminates into the wall retaining itself.

    Posted by: Maurizio M.

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