Seawalls are the demarcation between the water and your property. They are subjected to changing tides and in some areas, salt water — this powerful combination is the source of erosion. It is therefore not a matter of “if” but “when” in regard to their integrity.
In addition to constructing new seawalls, Gibson Marine conducts seawall inspections and performs repairs. Just like good roof maintenance, by remaining ahead of the curve you can avoid a more costly replacement when your approach to upkeep is proactive. And again, just like roof maintenance we strongly urge caution when attempting to conduct an inspection yourself. In the absence of the proper tools and expertise, serious injury can result.
When it comes to seawall inspections, a great deal of knowledge goes into the performance of an effective one. A few items of note:
- All Growth is Not Good Growth
Take rip rap seawalls for example – they are very effective (and lend themselves aesthetically to the natural surroundings), but, depending on conditions, will eventually lean or erode. The vegetation that makes these such a viable choice can also cause their undoing. The plants that intertwine with the rocks should be inspected… for weeds. Traditional landscape shrubbery makes a positive contribution, but weeds not only proliferate, their roots run deep and can easily cause cracking.
- Weep Holes
These are essentially relief valves designed to relieve water pressure which can accumulate both behind the seawall and as a result of ground saturation. Like any filtration system, it is only as good as its ability to flow. Check regularly for natural debris which can clog weep holes and render them ineffective. The inability of your seawall to disseminate the water pressure will lead to cracks, and cracks lead to crumbling, and crumbling leads to collapse.
- The Foundation is in the Footer
One of the most essential of maintenance efforts is to ensure that this support system is free from cracks and structural issues. Footers are the best low-cost way to prevent erosion and washout of seawalls from the intense water pressure that can build up.
- Types of Seawalls
Different seawall materials carry different potential problems. For example, even treated specialty wood is vulnerable. For these inspections, instead of cracking, you are looking for signs of splitting, rotting or evidence of termite or carpenter ant infestation. General shifting or movement is also something of which to be aware.
Seawalls are structures that offer protection. Like the roof on your home, they provide defense against the elements yet require a consistent inspection regimen. Unlike your roof, these breaches are not made apparent by stains on sheetrock or visible when cleaning the gutters.
We recommend inspections four times a year and by a professional who is licensed, insured, and knowledgeable. Trusting your seawall to your own expertise or someone who does not meet these criteria will result in issues that could have easily been avoided. These are the inspections that keep seawall repair/replacement costs down and maintain the safety of your family and your property.
If you would like to schedule an inspection by one of our licensed professionals, contact us here, or call (727) 942-3111.