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Old 07-04-2014, 05:09 PM  
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Default Would like opinion on DIY repair of bowing retaining wall

Hello All,

I have a cinderblock wall that is 8í high by 30í long. The wall was installed after the house was built to support the front porch roof (which was also built after the house), so this is not an interior basement wall and it does not hold anything up but the front porch deck and roof. It is constructed of 10x10x16 two core blocks. It is bowed in the middle about 1.75 inches and the bow is Vertical (not horizontal like most). There is only 3í of grade in front of the wall. Good drainage, no water makes it through the wall. This movement has happened gradually over the last 20 years because the area behind the wall is not insulated and freezes in the winter which creates some vertical movement and allows the 3í of dirt to push the wall in a little at a time. Also a factor is that there is not much weight on top of the wall which is why it is bowing vertically and not horizontally. Additionally the bottom course has sheared away equal to the bow (1.75). I have had some foundation specialists look at it and the good ones have all said that I shouldn't worry about fixing the bow. Instead I should go with a ROD and GROUT solution where reinforcing beams are inserted into the hollow cores of the blocks and then filled with concrete or grout and the top course will be re-enforced with beams that connect to the house wall every 4í to keep the top from falling inward after they have arrested the movement with the rod and grout. Quotes range from $3000 - $6000 for this procedure. Additionally, I need to seal off the ends and put some insulation under the deck floor to make sure that the area stays above freezing.

My problem is that I am a bit obsessive and I know if I donít fix the bow, it will continue to bother me even if i know it isnt moving anymore. I would rather pay to replace the wall so that it is straight. But before I do that, I would like to try and straighten the current wall and then pay the foundation folks to implement the suggested rod and grout repair. So I was going to dig out the 3í of backfill and anchor an adjustable floor jack to the concrete floor (on an angle) and brace it against the inside of the bowing wall at the apex of the bow to see if I can get some of the bow out very slowly while keeping a close eye on the results. I would do this over months cranking just a hair at a time. I figure the worst thing that could happen is that the block gets ruined and I need to pay to have it removed and replaced, which I was probably going to do anyway. I donít really see a downside to making this attempt. The wall is pretty stable, and I donít want to move more than a hair at a time and assess the results each time. So I would like your thoughts?

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Old 07-04-2014, 05:54 PM  
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Welcome to the site
It might be worth a try, I don't know much about block but I have some knowledge about retaining wall, and that is not what you have.
If you dig it out and manage to straighten it I would pour a concrete retaining wall behind it to carry the load of the fill.
A retaining wall would be built like a big "L" shape with a wide footing ,lots of steel and really good drainage.
If you damage the wall in the process of straightening I would replace the bottom 3 ft with a retaining wall and selvage the block to rebuild the wall on top of it
$6000 would go a long way to pay for a retaining wall behind your wall. And you would know it is fixed.

You may have good drainage at the bottom of a well waterproofed wall but the dirt against the wall is likely clay and holding the water instead of tranporting down to the drain.
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Old 07-09-2014, 06:44 PM  
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If it wasn't assembled with re-bar, you could only tear it out and make a new one. If they used re-bar, you could try a toggle anchor back into the hill and see if it can be cinched back. At the very least, it would ensure no more movement.
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