Keeping Your Seawall In Good Working Order

If you have ocean or lakefront property or live on a river, there is a good chance that you have a seawall on your property. A seawall is your protection from the powerful force of crashing waves, rising tides, or flooding rivers.

Not only does a properly placed and constructed seawall protect your home and property, it prevents soil erosion. Soil erosion can lead to landslides or entire slabs of your property just washing away. Additionally, soil erosion is bad for the environment. As the soils enter the water, it can cause water pollution, which in turn can lead to algae bloom and fish loss from oxygen deprivation.

When there is a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood, your existing seawall can become stressed from the pressure of doing its job. While you may be able to get away with delaying other household repairs, a damaged seawall needs to be addressed immediately, because when it goes, it goes. Here's what you need to know about keeping your seawall in good shape.

Start With An Inspection

After each weather event, visually inspect your seawall. Check the cap for any cracks or missing sections. Look at each slab section of the seawall and note any signs of deterioration. Assess if they are leaning or are out of alignment with one another. Check the structural integrity of the support beam and look for any corroded or rust spots. Inspect both sides of the wall. Determine if any soil is being lost on the property side of the wall or if the footings may be coming loose. Note the health of any vegetation on the wall and insure plants like ivy or invasive species haven't gotten a foothold on the wall. If you live in a cold climate, an inspection should be done after every winter as well.

Schedule A Checkup

If you see any signs of wear after a storm or flood, immediately contact a contractor to come out and assess the damage and structural integrity of the wall. A skilled professional will be able to tell if the damage is serious or not.The following are two of the most common types of major damage that can occur:

  • Seawall Cap Failure. Prolonged exposure to saltwater can corrode the reinforcing steel bars in the cap and can cause expansion that will lead to cracks. If this expansion and contracting process is allowed to continue, eventually large pieces of the seawall cap will break loose.
  • Sheet Pile Failure. These are the individual sheets that collectively make up the seawall. If the berm or embankment is lost or shifts, it can cause the wall to buckle and come out of alignment.

As every situation and property is different, so are the repair methods. A seawall repair contractor will discuss which options are best for you.