Frequently Asked Questions About Seawalls

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1. What are the basic components of a seawall?

A seawall is made up of three basic components:

1. A cap that sits atop the wall.
2. Tiebacks that hold the wall and cap in place.

2. How do I know if I need a new seawall?

If the cap and or wall are no longer straight, then the tiebacks may have failed.

If there are erosion holes on the landward side of the wall, then the seawall panels may be failing.

If the concrete cap is spalling, cracking or has exposed rebar, then the cap may be failing. All of these signs may indicate that some type of repair or replacement is needed.

3. I have a pool in my backyard, how do you access the site to install the new seawall?

For installations with tight access or restrictions like pools or decks, smaller, mobile equipment can be utilized for the installations or if possible, access to the site may be done with a barge.

4. We had a pool installed and now our seawall is moving. Is the pool causing the seawall to move?

It’s not uncommon for pool contractors to inadvertently cut through the tiebacks that hold the seawall in place while in the process of installing the pool. If this does happen, our solution is to install helical tiebacks that pass below the shell of the pool.

5. What is the average life of a seawall?

The original seawalls installed in our area with a concrete seawall panel, reinforced concrete cap and concrete deadmen (tiebacks) have an average life span of about 50 years. Most new residential seawalls are installed with vinyl panels, reinforced concrete caps and concrete deadmen (tiebacks) and have an expected life span of 50 – 70 years.

6. Do I have to replace the entire seawall if only a portion of it is failing?

It is possible to repair seawalls to extend their life. For instance, if the concrete cap and seawall panels appear to be in good condition but erosion holes are appearing on the landward side of the seawall, then the eroding area can be excavated and the seawall panel can be sealed up at the penetration where the erosion is occurring.

If the seawall panels appear to be in good condition and there aren’t any erosion holes occurring on the landward side of the seawall but the concrete cap has areas that are spalling, cracking or have exposed rebar, then either the concrete cap can be patched (restored) or the entire cap can be removed and replaced.

If the seawall panels and cap appear to be in good condition but the seawall and cap are moving, new tiebacks can be installed to stabilize the seawall.

7. How do I know what kind of seawall is best for me?

Each seawall needs to be designed specifically for its intended use and its surroundings. The engineer takes into account many factors in the design of the seawall including the following:

• Depth of the canal or open water directly in front of the seawall
• Energy of the waves affecting the seawall
• Quality of the soils surrounding the seawall
• Slope of the land behind the seawall
• The height of the seawall
• Any encumbrances that may affect the seawall
• Desired height of the seawall to account for rising seawater
• Recreational or business usage of the seawall

8. Does the old seawall need to be removed in order to install the new seawall?

Usually not, and it’s less expensive to leave the existing seawall in place and install the new seawall in front of the existing wall. The concrete cap is usually removed and the old tiebacks are usually abandoned so that new larger tiebacks can be installed.

9. How long does it take to obtain a seawall permit?

A permit for a “wall-in-front-of-wall” seawall usually takes about a month to obtain. However, this depends on the number of permits being applied for in your municipality.

10. Could I be denied a permit for a seawall?

If you have an existing seawall, it’s very likely you will be able to obtain a permit to replace the seawall or install a wall-in-front-of-wall seawall. If there is not a seawall in place currently, then a discussion with the County official would be in order to determine if or where a seawall or retaining wall may be installed.

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