Bulkhead inspections

Does anyone have any information sources on inspecting waterfront bulkheads? Any canned comments to share?


Look for soil depressions behind the top of the wall indicating undermining action by water, any gaps or holes in the wall that could permit future undermining, any sharp protrusions that could cause injury. Note the construction of the wall: Interlocking steel sheet piles, wood timbers, concrete, and condition. The ends of wall should not allow water to wash out soil from behind. The wall should have a ladder to allow anyone who falls off to climb back up. Consider whether the location of the wall implies it should have a railing, such as adjoining a small yard where children will be playing. If new construction, there may be a local code on this. Note the water depth along the wall and the height of the wall above the water. These will be important to a buyer with a boat. Note mooring and utility facilities for a boat, whether there is protection from waves, and if there is a no wake zone.

Jim King

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John, Jim was right on target but I would add if there are any Tye backs. It helps the bulkhead from being pushed out.

Thanks guys. How about lateral bracing on the pilings? Robert, the tye backs are they the same as dead men.


Yes, unless the dead men have concrete shoes and are in the water. :cool:

Dont forget your bathing suit and goggles.

I think I’ll write that the dead men are not visible and therefore not inspected!! Still too cold here for a swim :scuba:

John, Yes deadman is the same as tye backs. I use to work with the dock builder in NY area and most of the guys called them tye backs. It usually depends on the method of the builder; and matterial used will determine if you see the dead man. If the bulkhead is using heavy timber ( such as 12x12’s ) you should see the dead man. If the bulkhead is using Z sheets you will probably not see any. If it doesn’t look right, then advise to be reviewed by a specialest. Time to go. Bruce

Hi James,
I live on the water and have a bulkhead. I have watched many bulkheads be taken down and new ones installed. I know all about the dead men, tie rods, what to look for when the wall starts deteriorating. With all this said, I still would feel better taking a “course” of some kind to say I can inspect bulkheads during my home inspections. I can’t find any! Any suggestions???
Thank you

We use cocrete galoshes here. The price of concrete and the washtub means this is no longer cost efficient. Inflation ruins everything!

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