How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
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What is batter in a retaining wall?
Wednesday, April 20, 2022
“Batter” is a term used in the masonry trade for the gradual setback from vertical of a wall by insetting each course slightly back from the one below. When a masonry retaining wall is battered it creates a stronger wall that is more resistant to collapse than one that is vertical. If you think of a person leaning into someone next to them that is starting to fall over against them, instead of just stiffening and standing straight to stop the fall, you have the basic principle behind it. A typical slope is 1 to 2-inches back for every 12-inches of height.
Behind every retaining wall is a wedge of soil that would immediately collapse if the wall was removed. Engineers refer to the line at the back of that wedge as “the assumed plane of rupture,” and it’s angle varies somewhat according to the type of soil. When the wall is battered, it reduces both the size of the wedge and the corresponding force trying to topple the wall.
Also see our articles How do I recognize structural problems in a retaining wall? and Do home inspectors check retaining walls? to learn more.
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