Retaining walls are named for their primary function and also provide an aesthetic look to an outdoor feature. Some are quite long and large, others are much smaller. Typically, retaining walls are used to contain, and because of this, are built to withstand the test of time.
Taking down a retaining wall isn’t a simple task and will require a good amount of safety precautions to avoid injury and property damage. If you have a retaining wall that’s failing and replacing a portion won’t be enough to save it, you’ll have to take it apart.
How to Take Down a Retaining Wall
First and foremost, know what’s on the other side of the wall. If there’s an irrigation system or it’s supporting something, you ought to hire a professional service do the job. However, if its small and you can tackle the project on your own, you’ll need heavy boots, eye protection, a dust mask, leather gloves, a chisel or hammer drill, a sledgehammer, pry bar, and at least one set of helping hands.
Retaining walls are built to last, so getting rid of one is labor intensive. The safest approach is to remove the wall one layer at a time to prevent it from collapsing. If the wall is built with mortared stones or bricks, removing them will be difficult to do without damaging the materials. —eHow.com
With your tools ready to go, you’ll also need to clear the immediate area. Move anything that’s near the wall away to avoid damage. Then, follow these steps:
- Begin with the top. If the wall has a cap running along the top of it, you’ll have to remove it first. Using the chisel or hammer drill, begin to separate it from the wall itself. Try to break it into pieces and place the debris well away from your work area to avoid tripping hazards.
- Disassemble it from top to bottom. To demolish a small retaining wall, you’ll have to start at the top, breaking the bricks apart across the span of the wall. Do not try to demolish the wall in sections from top to bottom it will become compromised and could collapse suddenly.
- Shovel out the bottom. The lower course of the wall will probably be partially buried, so you’ll have to shovel out around it to be able to break it up. Once the bottom course is removed, dig up the gravel foundation and then backfill the trench.
Expect even small retaining wall demolitions to take an entire weekend or more.
How to Dispose of Retaining Wall Materials
The best way to dispose of the retaining wall debris is to have a junk hauling service pick it up and take it away. If you rent a dumpster, you’re very likely to rent one that’s too small and must be filled more than once, which will significantly run-up the cost. Or, you’ll rent one that’s too large and pay more for space you won’t use.