Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Seawall and retaining Wall Repair Solutions

Seawall and retaining wall problems in Central Florida.

Following the hurricanes back in 2003 and 2005, there was a flurry of dock and seawall reconstruction in Central Florida. When there is so much opportunity for work, every guy with a pickup truck becomes a marine contractor. The problems with hiring an inexperienced licensed contractor to perform marine construction such as docks, seawalls, retaining walls, boardwalks, boathouses, channel markers, mooring piles and marinas. There are special skills and techniques as well as specialized equipment required for marine construction repair and new construction projects to be successful.

Today I met with a customer in Phillips Landing on Sand Lake. She had a non-marine contractor install a 5’ high and 250’ long aluminum seawall after the hurricanes. She called me because the wall was falling over into the lake. Not only is the damaged seawall dangerous to walk around but the beautifully landscaped yard is about to be destroyed. This wall needs to be repaired immediately.

It appears that the seawall or retaining wall failure was a result of a combination of mistakes made by the contractor. The wall did not have any ports in the face of the wall to allow water to flow from behind the wall. This causes the seawall to fail as a result of the hydrostatic pressure building behind the wall.

The homeowner did the right thing by requiring the contractor to be licensed and to procure a building permit. However, the contractor was fly-by-night and is now out of business. There is no company left to stand behind the wall construction. The customer did not require that the seawall contractor be a member of the Florida Marine Contractor's Association which requires its members to not only be appropriatley licensed but also carry the required United States Longshoreman's Insurance.

The solution we suggest is costly but effective. We would remove the soil from behind the wall where the wall has begun to lean and bow. We would then install new deadmen and tiebacks between the old tiebacks. We would then use a mini-excavator to pull the wall back into a vertical position. We would replace portions of the seawall cap where it cannot be reused. After the wall is straight, the original deadmen and tiebacks will be adjusted to pick up a portion of the load exerted on the wall by the soil. After the deadmen and tiebacks are right, we would carefully backfill against the wall. Once the wall is backfilled, the tiebacks are adjusted again and the yard is cleaned up and sodded.

We would install vents in the seawall face to allow water to pass from behind the wall into the lake through the wall. This will limit the hydrostatic pressure building up behind the wall during the wet season here in Florida.

There are other solutions available that do not require digging up the yard to install deadmen. We will go into that system in another entry to my marine construction blog.

If you need help with marine construction anywhere in Florida, feel free to contact Cloud 9 Services, Inc. We are State Certified Marine Contractors. 407-481-2750.


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