Retaining walls: why they fail

Retaining walls can provide function and dimensions of beauty. In general, retaining walls need to be properly constructed and cared for in order to secure the greatest longevity. Retaining walls unfortunately are not often constructed with proper water management systems. The hydrostatic pressure of water filled soil matrix behind the wall exerts pressure to the wall laterally. This force over time will cause for structural issues such as cracks, out of plane movement, leans, bulges, or rotation. Retaining wall water mismanagement can show up as efflorescence (mineral deposits from water leachate through the units), as well as material disintegration such as unit crumbling. Walls need to have proper drainage such as a behind wall drainage plane with gravel, flashings, drainage pipes to collect and divert water according, as well as intentional, properly spaced drainage (weep) holes. It is too often that these design elements are absent, and correlated with their absence is the signs of wall damage and failure. Retaining walls can be expensive to replace, therefore it is best to ensure that they are properly constructed and repaired for accordingly. If your wall appears to be lacking proper drainage implementation, we recommend that a contractor provide modifications to the wall to increase the longevity, it may not be too late.

Pipe collar flashing at the roof

It is that time of year to review the roof for wear and tear from the harshness of the winter. Neoprene (rubber-like) collars around pipe penetrations over time will deteriorate which will allow precipitation to enter into the void space around the pipe. This condition can allow water to enter the attic or the finished space. Oftentimes, attic insulation will be stained and wet and the surrounding wood sheathing will have water staining and depending on how chronic the condition had been, wood rot at the sheathing or potential water damage to finished ceilings. How to rectify the problem? Replacement of the flashing is recommended. A qualified roofing contractor can remove the nearby roof covering material to access the flashing for replacement. The life expectancy of pipe collar flashing are about 15 years or so while most asphalt roofs last about 20-25 years. Most common small roof repairs should cost between $150 and $400 with labor being around $45 to $75 an hour. 

Cast iron waste pipe: where do we go from here


Cast iron waste drainage pipe has a life expectancy of about 50-70 years or so. Over time, the pipe may show signs of failure such as corrosive staining or corrosive scabs which are pin hole leaks that are scabbed over. Those scabs may not always leak, but it is often only a matter of time before they give way and leak into the home.

Aged cast iron pipes, or pipes that are showing signs of wear should be anticipated that replacement will soon be inevitable. Budgeting for the process can make the situation of plumbing replacement less stressful. Being proactive and having the portions of pipes replaced is a good idea as well.