A Waterfront Homeowner’s Guide to Seawall Maintenance
If you plan to purchase a waterfront home that is equipped with a seawall, then you need to learn all about seawalls and how to keep yours in good condition.
Damaged, neglected seawalls do not protect homes and waterfront property as well as those that are in good shape. In addition, with proper maintenance, you can potentially extend the lifespan of your current seawall by many years or even decades to ward off the need for costly early replacement.
Finally, many coastal cities have ordinances in place that require you to keep your seawall in good condition to prevent failure.
Read on to learn more about the specific hazards of seawall neglect, the seawall maintenance tasks that you should perform regularly, and the signs that a seawall is in need of prompt repairs.
Importance of Seawall Maintenance
Seawalls protect coastal land and properties from the erosion and flooding that the ocean and its waves can cause. For this reason, a failing seawall can lead to the erosion of the soil that surrounds and supports your home and can make your home more susceptible to flooding during severe weather events.
In addition, if your seawall is attached to your neighbors’ seawalls, then keeping this wall well-functioning and intact also helps maintain the stability of your neighbors’ walls and prevents soil erosion on their properties, as well. Finally, a failing seawall poses a hazard to boaters and others looking to enjoy the water adjacent to your seawall.
While most seawalls need to be replaced every several decades, there are several steps you can take to prevent seawall problems that can lead to early failure.
Remove Weeds Growing Near Your Seawall
All weeds growing next to your wall should be removed on a regular basis. Weeds often have invasive root systems that can make their way into any tiny cracks or crevices in a sea wall and expand these cracks as they grow. Large seawall cracks jeopardize the integrity of the wall.
You can prevent the formation of some large seawall cracks by simply removing weeds that you spot growing near the wall on a regular basis.
Clean Weep Holes Regularly
Most seawalls are built with weep holes that only small amounts of seawater can pass through. These holes help alleviate hydrostatic pressure on the walls that can damage them over time. However, dirt, sand, and debris can clog the weep holes and prevent water from flowing through them.
Clean out weep holes on a regular basis to keep your seawall functioning well. Also, consider installing special weep hole filters on holes that tend to become clogged often.
Obtain Periodic Seawall Inspections
You should have your seawall inspected for damage regularly. This inspection helps you can catch and repair small seawall problems before they worsen.
Signs of Seawall Damage
Another important way to keep your seawall functioning well is to know the signs of small seawall problems and have these problems repaired before they worsen.
Longitudinal seawall cracks occur when the steel support system inside of a concrete seawall cap expands due to corrosion and places pressure on the surrounding cement that causes it to crack. You can often repair this crack type by filling it with epoxy resin. After the crack repair, you can apply a cap sealant to slow steel corrosion to prevent the formation of new cracks.
You can fill other small seawall cracks and even small holes with marine grout to improve seawall function and prevent soil seepage through the slightly damaged areas.
Larger cracks in the seawall caps can indicate that the seawall has begun to shift. The placement of auxiliary seawall tiebacks can help prevent further shifting to ward off seawall failure.
Since seawalls are designed to prevent soil erosion, many seawall problems can lead to erosion of the soil behind them. This soil erosion can lead to the formation of erosion holes, soil voids, and even large sinkholes behind a seawall.
The seawall repair needed to stop soil erosion varies depending on the cause of the erosion.
If a small erosion hole develops due to gradual seepage of the soil through a seawall seam over time, then you can stop this erosion problem relatively quickly and easily. To repair this problem, you’ll need to excavate the soil surrounding the hole and install a special filter cloth over the seawall seam that the soil is seeping through to prevent further soil seepage. Then, you’ll cover the area in front of the cloth in crushed shell and replace the soil.
However, if extensive erosion in the form of multiple sinkholes located near several seawall joints occurs, then this is a sign of joint separation that warrants the need for more extensive seawall joint repair. While seawall joint repairs can be performed in several ways, they are often performed by inserting a special foam sealant inside of the seams and then attaching polyvinyl chloride (PVC) panels over the joints with stainless steel fasteners.
After the joints are repaired, sinkholes and soil voids can be refilled with new soil.
If you plan to purchase a home equipped with a seawall, then be prepared to maintain and repair your seawall as needed to prevent costly and potentially dangerous seawall failure. Contact the marine construction experts at Abbotts’ Construction Services, Inc. for all of your seawall maintenance, repair, and replacement needs today.