Need help with retaining wall repair

laff66

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 18, 2007
110
Plano, TX
Not sure if this is the right forum for this, but couldn't find one more appropriate?

We have a retaining wall around our pool that has a ton of cracked mortar joints. I know nothing about masonry repair so I don't know if its even worth fixing, but it seems like it will keep getting worse and eventually fall apart. So, first question is should I fix it? Second, if I do it myself can I just cut out the cracked mortar with a grinder and diamond blade, then put new grout/mortar in its place? If so, how deep do I need to cut out?
Thanks for any help!

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txborn

LifeTime Supporter
May 21, 2007
126
Carrollton, TX
Did you see the original construction of the wall? It should have had a portland cement type base at least 6" deep under the first course for stability. That's the best way to help minimize movement. Even then with the soil in some locations in the D/FW area, there can be a lot of movement. I had a similar wall built less than 4 months ago using best practices and already have a small crack down one side.

You can take a grinder or just a chisel and hammer (some of that mortar looks pretty loose) and take some mortar out - maybe back 3/4 of an inch or more if you can and fill in with masonry caulk in a tube from HD or Lowes paint section. It will be noticable where you patched because the color probably won't match exactly. Any future movement could still cause problems though. I doubt the wall will collapse. It is not that tall to begin with.

You could mix your own mortar out of Portland cement and sand but since the stones are in place, it can get to be messy.

I probably wouldn't do anything with it if it were mine. Cracks in mortar are quite common.
 

laff66

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 18, 2007
110
Plano, TX
I did not own the house when this was built. My concern is that there are several cracks on the top surface, and it seems that water getting in there would continue to make it worse. If thats not the case, I would love to leave it alone!
 

txborn

LifeTime Supporter
May 21, 2007
126
Carrollton, TX
When it rains, water gets in any space that it can find. The stone/mortar will get wet regardless. Since you werent there when it was built, I suspect whomever built it did not pay a lot of attention to the base prep. It would likely crack again if you went through the trouble to repair it.

It looks like lt is less than 2 feet tall. There is probably not a lot of pressure being put on it being so short. I would hold off unless you just don't like the way it looks and if so, get someone to rebuild it, making sure to put down a proper base. Even then, as time goes by you will see separation develop.

Hope that helps!

Mark
 

laff66

LifeTime Supporter
Apr 18, 2007
110
Plano, TX
I just found a receipt for the wall, and its almost 15 years old, so I'm thinking that they must have done it right, given the soil movement we have around here. It may only be cosmetic, I don't know, but I'll probably fix the cracks and see if I can make it last even longer.