I just got back from our HOA meeting and the president stated the
retaining walls in our complex may need replacement. The landscape
contractor said the efflorescence appearing in the concrete walls holding
back the slope behind our complex would eventually weaken them and cause
them to fail. The slopes are substantial and are only 10 feet away from
the houses so it is cause for alarm if this is the case. However, the
walls have stood for 19 years and there is no sign of damage or mortar
crumbling in any of them. The walls are concrete block--not a solid wall,
but I don't know if concrete or dirt was packed inside it. The estimate
for each wall was $15K and we'd have to do 5 of them. Is the
efflorescence actually weakening the wall?
Does your landscaping contractor just happen to also do retaining walls?
Yes, efflorescence can be an indicator of excessive moisture behind the
wall, seeping through, but as long as the mortar joints don't crack, and the
wall stays straight, there is probably no imminent danger. You definitely
want to get an engineer out there for a site survey before the association
drops that kind of money. I suspect they MAY tell you to redo the backfill
behind the walls and improve the drainage (drain tile and/or weep holes),
which also won't be cheap, but probably cheaper than a demo and rebuild. How
high are the walls, and what is the slope of the land behind them? If they
blockaded a spring in the hill to make the flat spots for the houses, things
can get difficult. Water will always find a way, eventually.
On Sun, 21 Sep 2003 15:13:43 +0000 (UTC), someone wrote:
This is confusing cause and effect.
The efflourescence itself is "just" minerals washing out of the wall.
That in itself causes no harm, often new walls have an initial
efflourescence that needs to be acid washed off for appearance sake.
BUT it *could* be a signal on an older wall that water is not draining
properly. A series of events *might* then follow that could be bed
for the wall. That, is perhaps it is a symptom. I suggest you get an
engineer to evaluate it.
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