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Two Factors That Cause Winter Damage to Retaining Wall Blocks in Denver Every Contractor Should Know

Filed under: Retaining Wall Blocks — procoat @ 5:41 pm April 18, 2016

Retaining Wall BlockOur winters in the Denver pose two tough, and related, problems for your clients’ retaining walls—possible freeze/thaw damage and for street facing walls, assaults of the blocks by de-icing salts

The direct attack of the winter weather upon a retaining wall

A well-designed and constructed retaining wall is built to both retain the soil behind it, as well as allow water through drains built into it. The good management of water is crucial to a retaining wall standing firm for decades. Each gallon of water weighs eight and a third pounds. Well-saturated soil behind a wall represents a considerable amount of extra weight when compared to dry soil.

The weight of water brings us to the implications of freeze/thaw cycles when it comes to retaining wall blocks in Denver. In many retaining wall designs without integral drainage built into them, a part of the water management is left for the surrounding plantings to perform. Of course, plants are dormant in the winter and not doing their part of drawing off moisture. If melt water gets trapped behind the wall, it may not have been either designed or constructed to withstand the added weight or the freeze pressure, and could suffer from localized block shifting, and in extreme cases, catastrophically fail.

Salts are not kind to your retain wall block

Even if the retaining wall drained perfectly in the winter doesn’t mean it is free from another cold weather threat, de-icing agents. The retaining wall block products that ProCoat Systems Denver sells are specifically engineered to ASTM standards to resist the freeze/thaw cycle. The way this is accomplished is by making the blocks less porous to be better able to resist the infiltration of water, which when frozen, would expand and damage the block through micro-fracturing.

Though less porous, these blocks are not impervious to deicing agents. Whatever else makes up their composition, all current de-icing salts contain chloride. When made into a solution with water, this chloride compound acts like a weak, but relentless, acid attack upon the block, literally dissolving it on the molecular level. The signs of chloride damage being a problem for a retaining wall will take the form of spalling, or accelerated surface erosion.

While retaining wall blocks in Denver’s climate can’t avoid the harsh elements, how contractor’s build them and manage homeowners’ expectation is key to a lasting wall, and a lasting good impression of your work. Whether you are building a new retaining wall or repairing an older one, make the experts at ProCoat Systems SLC your first call for the latest product specs and technical help. Call either Denver, 303-322-9009 or Salt Lake City, 801-410-4345 to schedule an appointment today.