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Preventing Seawall Failure: 4 Common Causes and How to Avoid Them

by Duncan Seawall

Coastal properties encounter unique challenges - none as significant as seawalls. As a protective barrier at the shoreline, designed to withstand your specific waterfront environment.


Related Blog: How Seawall Failure Can Impact Selling Your Home


However, seawalls aren't invincible and several factors can lead to seawall failure. But with a proactive approach and the aid of a seasoned marine construction partner, you can evade these pitfalls.



Impact of a Damaged Seawall

A failed seawall poses significant risks, potentially exposing your property to the unrestrained might of the sea. To ensure this doesn't happen, knowing what might cause a seawall to fail and how to prevent it is crucial.



1. Anchor Rod Deterioration

To prevent your seawall from leaning or collapsing, your marine contractor inserts an anchor rod, a sturdy metal rod, through the wall to hold it in place. Long-term exposure to salt water and harsh weather conditions can cause fasteners and anchor rods to deteriorate, leading to seawall failure.


If you see your seawall begin to lean outward, towards the water, or notice the wall is not aligned with the surrounding barrier, have your anchor rod checked for damage.



2. Seawall Cap Failure

Long-term exposure to saltwater and the elements can cause the steel used in reinforcing the concrete seawall cap to corrode, causing it to expand. This expansion leads to crack development, and over time, these cracks enlarge, causing large pieces of the seawall cap to break off.


Watch out for large cracks running the length of the cap and/or wall misalignment, as they may signal seawall cap failure.



3. Loss of Berm or Insufficient Panel Penetration

The wall can move outward at the bottom due to the loss of berm in front of the seawall or insufficient panel penetration. This movement can expose the reinforcing steel to salt water, further weakening the sheet piles and possibly requiring the removal of barnacles to expose cracks.



4. Inadequate Maintenance

Regular maintenance is essential in detecting and addressing potential issues before they escalate. Neglecting maintenance duties can lead to seawall corrosion and decomposition. Regular evaluations can help avoid these problems.



Preventing Seawall Failure

While maintenance can extend your seawall's lifespan, using top-quality materials that are specific to your waterfront environment can prevent seawall failure altogether. Instead of frequently paying for repairs, all you'll have to do is ensure you're regularly cleaning and maintaining your seawall. 


At Duncan Seawall, our team of marine construction specialists can help you determine the best design for your seawall based on your waterfront environment.


With over 40 years of building and repairing seawalls, our marine contractors are experts in seawall construction along Florida's coastal environment. Download our complete guide to seawalls to learn more about the construction process and materials you need for your seawall.

Complete Guide to Seawalls


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