Easy steps to follow for concrete sleepers maintenace
Concrete sleeper products are an extremely strong and robust building product. They’ve also come leaps and bounds in terms of aesthetics and design, making them an ideal choice for many landscaping projects. Today, you’ll see concrete sleepers used for retaining walls, garden terraces and steps in gardens.
However, what doesn’t get mentioned enough is the care and maintenance of these products. To ensure years of service life, concrete sleeper products do require some maintenance. For example, to protect your concrete sleeper’s colour from staining, you can seal ith with a clear concrete sealer.
Besides stain protection, there are some basic care principles to follow to ensure that your concrete performs to its capabilities. Below are general maintenance tips for you to consider:
While concrete sleepers are tough, they aren’t invincible! Regularly inspect your sleepers for cracks, bulges, crumbling, fractures or any telltale signs of damage. These are all enough to spoil the look and performance of your sleepers. Remember that cracks can widen over time, and maybe a sign of underlying problems.
Make Immediate Repairs
As mentioned, cracks typically worsen over time, affecting your retaining wall’s appearance and structural integrity. Cracks that are less than 1/2 inch can be patched with a low-viscosity epoxy adhesive.
If orange rust stains are visible, this may indicate that the rebar (the steel reinforcing your sleeper) is corroding or rusting. In this case, it is best to consult an experienced engineer or professional for a repair estimate.
Regardless if you DIY repair or engage a professional for your concrete sleepers, make sure to make repairs ASAP.
Don’t Ignore Your Drainage
Earth pressure can be enormous, especially if the soil is wet. A retaining wall without proper drainage can cause water to accumulate behind the retaining wall, increasing the pressure even more on your sleepers.
To prevent water accumulate, regularly inspect your drainage system to ensure it’s not clogged or blocked with debris or soil. If it is, it will not function optimally and water won’t be able to flow and drain away from your sleepers. And if you haven’t got a drainage system in place, you may need to consider installing one.
Clean your concrete sleepers
Your retaining wall is an extension of your exterior, and its beauty and appearance can be maintained with a good cleaning.
Cleaning your sleepers is easy; you’ll need some warm water, mild dishwashing soap and baking soda for stains. Begin by using a garden hose to rinse down your sleepers, then gently wipe the surface with a soft brush or cloth. You can use a mild cleaning solution if stains are present. You’ll want to avoid chemical cleaners as they can be bleaching, leaving permanent damage. If you are not sure about the type of cleaning solution to use, get your cleaning pro’s recommendation to ensure you preserve the quality and appearance of your sleepers.
Also, be sure to avoid pressure washing as this can loosen the mortar and even damage your sleepers. Bricks and blocks should be treated with extra care.
- Do use a plastic
DO use plastic (Forticon) behind the sleepers before backfilling the wall. If plastic is not used, then Efflorescence may occur if excess water gets behind the sleepers.
- Do use an Agi
Do use an Agi drain at the base of the wall to allow drainage
- DO NOT scrub
DO NOT scrub the face of the sleepers to remove dirt or stains; Use a light garden hose to soften the dirt or stain and remove by hand (if possible).
- DO NOT use a pressure
DO NOT use a pressure hose to clean the sleepers. Pressure hoses can open up the capillaries in the concrete which can lead to Efflorescence.
- DO NOT subject the concrete sleepers
DO NOT subject the concrete sleepers to excessive water hitting the face from a sprinkler system.
- DO NOT use any chemical solutions
DO NOT use any chemical solutions to clean the sleepers (other than Efflorescence Remover).
WHAT IS EFFLORESCENCE?
Efflorescence is the formation of salt deposits (typically white) that can occur on the surface of all concrete products. Efflorescence is generally harmless with the main side effect being a change in the appearance of the product. Over time, efflorescence can become less noticeable, and it is typically more noticeable in the winter months.
HOW TO REMOVE EFFLORESCENCE
Generally, efflorescence will weather away naturally within one or two years. If immediate removal is required, this can be achieved by purchasing an Efflorescence Remover which can be purchased at most major hardware stores.
Always follow the instructions and guidelines on the product label and always trial on a small area first. Efflorescence is a natural process that is generally harmless and of no risk to the integrity of the concrete products.
Whilst Efflorescence can be unsightly and detract from the aesthetics of the product, it is part and parcel of using concrete products.
Masonry or diamond blade quick cut saws are most commonly used when cutting sleepers. If you have to cut our sleepers please remember to wash the cut end of the sleeper with a light garden hose to remove the surplus bi-product (do not use a pressure hose) You must then cover the exposed reo bars with cold gal spray to protect the reo bars inside and prolong the life of the sleeper.
High-quality Products with RWS
Looking to install a retaining wall to capture land and add a unique design element to your garden? RWS has the perfect solution, with our range of quality concrete sleepers and steel posts. Browse our website for more information about our products, or contact us today to discuss your needs. Our services are available in Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, and Sunshine Coast.