If you have oceanfront property, the concept of global warming and rising sea levels is probably always in the back of your mind, especially if you have noticed beach erosion or damage to your existing seawall. Because your house and other buildings depend on your seawall, it is important to have a marine construction specialist inspect and repair these barriers on a regular basis. It is especially vital to check on these structures before the approach of a major storm and after one has passed.
What Causes Seawall Damage
Although seawalls look indestructible, the ocean is a mighty force. And it's not uncommon for them to fall victim to the pounding of the large waves and powerful winds of a hurricane or other such destructive storm. In 2015, for example, a blizzard took out a large section of a seawall in Marshfield, which is located near Boston. According to Boston.com, the breach in the wall allowed water to damage several buildings. In addition to storms, these other factors can also wreak havoc on a seawall:
- Salt. While a violent storm may be the final straw that causes a seawall to collapse, salt in the ocean water and air is one of the main reasons why these structures can begin to corrode and crumble. The salt can also eat away at the steel that often holds together seawalls and can also cause the concrete to begin to crack.
- Lack of maintenance. When seawalls are not maintained by a marine contractor on a regular basis, they can more easily fall prey to the forces of nature.
- Age. Many of the nation's seawalls are very old. For example, the seawalls that protect Punta Gorda in Florida were all built in the 1960s.
- Poor construction. Unfortunately, a seawall constructed by a business inexperienced in marine construction could fail after only a few years.
- Heavy rain. The pounding of heavy rain can take a heavy toll on a seawall.
- Boating practices. Some boaters will run their propeller near a seawall in a practice known as prop washing in order to displace sand at the bottom of these important structures to enlarge their slip area. Unfortunately, that displaced sand is necessary to keep the seawall in place.
While you can never guarantee that a seawall can withstand the mighty forces of Mother Nature, regular inspections could help prolong the life of your seawall. While you can do this on your own, it may make more sense to hire a professional marine contractor or a structural marine engineer to inspect your seawall, as they will know what they should be looking for. If you do decide to inspect your seawall on your own, here are a few signs that you may need a marine contractor to make repairs on your structure:
- A noticeable drop in the ground or soil level near the seawall.
- Holes that form near the bottom of your seawall on the land side.
- The seawall appears to be moving outward toward the sea.
- Large cracks in the seawall.
- The cap on your wall has started to break apart.
- Noticeable rust on the reinforcing steel holding your seawall together and in place.
If you notice any of these signs, you should call in a marine contractor to look over your seawall and to give you an estimate on what repairs need to be done.
While your seawall may not be the first thing you think of when you get up in the morning, it can be very vital to the safety of your home and family. In fact, your seawall can, literally, be the last barrier between you and the destructive forces of the ocean. That is why it is so imperative to check your seawall on a regular basis and keep it well maintained. For more information, contact an experienced marine construction company in your area.