Four Things You Need To Know About Seawall Maintenance And Repair

Waterfront property owners enjoy gorgeous views and easy access to water sports such as boating, fishing, and swimming. Erosion is a very real concern for many who choose to have their homes near the water. Fortunately, residential property owners have the option of having seawalls installed for the purpose of protecting their landscaping from the damaging effects of erosion and to provide their outdoor living space with a finished look. Most people don't even think about their seawalls until they malfunction, and this can result in property damage as well as in costly repairs.

If you have recently had a seawall installed or have purchased a property with an existing seawall, there certain things regarding seawall maintenance and repair that you need to know. Here are four of them.

Cap Failure

Salt water exposure over long periods of time can cause the steel reinforcements in the seawall's concrete caps to rust and corrode. Weakened cap structures are particularly dangerous during storms involving high winds and elevated sea levels. Telltale signs of potential cap failure due to corroded or otherwise defective steel reinforcements include large cracks in the concrete, indicating that the material is under stress, and general misalignment of the entire wall.

Homeowners with average maintenance skills can repair cracks in seawalls on their own using a few basic tools by removing debris from the seawall surface, filling in the cracks with liquid concrete, and using a trowel to smooth the surface. Keep in mind that this task should be performed as soon as the tide goes out to give the mixture as much time as possible to dry. Also, keep in mind that sea levels are at their lowest in autumn, making it the best time to perform seawall repairs or to build new seawalls.

Visible Rust Stains

Rust stains themselves aren't harmful, but their presence may be indicative of other issues your seawall is experiencing. At the very least, rust indicates a strong likelihood that regular seawall maintenance has been neglected. Rust in the cracks of the seawall surface mean that salt water corrosion has begun to occur. If your seawall is rusty, especially if you've recently purchased the property and don't know the maintenance history of the wall, you should contact a licensed contractor who is experienced in seawall restoration, maintenance, and repair instead of trying to diagnose the problem yourself. Remember that the presence of rust is just a symptom of a variety of possible problems.

Tie-Back Corrosion

Tie-back systems keep concrete seawalls anchored in place. However, like most other things that are exposed to salt water over long periods of time, tie-backs can corrode. To check for tie-back corrosion, you will need to wait until the tide is out, dig holes next to the tie backs, and inspect them for signs of degradation and corrosion. Contact a professional marine contractor if you notice significant corrosion -- it may be time to have the tie-backs replaced, and this job should be done by a qualified marine contractor. Tie-backs that are showing signs of corrosion can also be treated with coatings designed to slow down the process of further deterioration. Contact a company like Abbott's Construction Services Inc. for more information.

Regular Inspections Matter

As stated previously, many homeowners simply put their seawalls in the backs of their minds until something happens that forces them to pay attention, and the result is usually an expensive repair bill. Having the seawall professionally inspected on an annual basis will circumvent unpleasant surprises. Also, keep an eye out for signs of distress on your seawall while walking along the edge, and consider using a spray-on, water-based penetrating product designed to provide the concrete surface of your seawall with an extra layer of protection.