Crawl Space Encapsulation: Keep Foundation Walls Dry

DON’T BUY THE LIE…there is a better way to fix your crawl space.

Crawl space encapsulation only works if there isn’t any moisture within the crawl space.  By moisture, we mean, water.  In this case, the homeowner paid over $7,000 because the company installing them said it was the best way to rid the crawlspace of the mold and mildew that had formed on, and rotted, out their floor joists.  They also guarantee a clean and dry crawlspace after installation.  So, why is there water standing in the crawlspace?  Simply put, the tape that holds the seams of the plastic together will never be watertight.  And, given there is a high water table in this area, the water forced it’s way up through the seams and, well, there it sits…causing more damage to the joists because it cannot escape.  “Wait, Mr. Grout Tech Man, why can’t it escape,” you may be asking.  Because when you encapsulate a crawl space you seal off the ventilation holes.  “So, that shouldn’t be a problem, right?”  Wrong.  No ventilation means that any moisture that gets in only has one way out…upwards, though the flooring and the house.

The number one complaint we receive about a crawl space which has been encapsulated to prevent moisture in that space is…it’s not working.  Standing water or moist wood is the tell-tale sign of this issue.

The second most common complaint is the smell.  Yes, the smell.  Gases from the plastic, as well as natural gases rising up from the earth, get trapped in the encapsulated crawl space.  Without ventilation they can only go up, just as the moisture.  Most people believe it smells like cat urine.  I’m not sure.  I’ve never really put my nose up to a cat urinating to see what it smells like.  I just take their word for it.  When we tell them we can fix this, but it will involve creating ventilation, they are usually horrified to find they spent several thousands of dollars on something that doesn’t work as advertised.  What?  WAIT A MINUTE…. There’s something out there which is being advertised that doesn’t work as advertised to work???  Yep.

The third likely complaint is the home now feels damp.  I reference you back to the fact that the water/moisture only has one exit now…upward through your home.

Oh, wait.  You can always add a dehumidifier into the crawl space if you have a minor moisture problem.  But, really, that should be a last resort (as well as a sump pump), and then only used if in combination with a REAL fix for the problem…ATMOX ventilation systems!  Here’s a secret the encapsulators don’t want you to know:  You can install the ATMOX system yourself if you’re a bit of a handy ma—errrr, person!

Pipe Filling Example Job

Nichols/GROUT TECH was contacted to fill the annulus space between the existing 66” concrete, and new 44” HDPE, pipes, for an approximate 600 feet. Due to each end of the newly inserted HDPE pipe being approximately 100 feet from each end of the existing concrete pipe, a special bulkhead had to be designed; one that would withstand the pressures of approximately 150 cubic yards of cement placed against them, under pressure.

Injection End

Exit End

Why “Cheap” is not Always the Best Option

Why “Cheap” is not Always the Best Option

A recent incident proved once again the strong importance of hiring a reputable foundation contractor to get the job done right the first time. Making sure you are hiring a reputable foundation contractor saves you the additional time and money that goes into having to hire a second contractor to come take a look and fix the problem that the original contractor had created.

"Competitors" WorkA couple years ago, a young couple purchased a 50+ year old home. Due to mold, mildew, and overall wood rot, thanks to the standing water in the crawl space, they had to have a significant amount of structural wood (joists and sub flooring) replaced prior to their purchase of the home. Nichols/Grout Tech was asked to investigate an issue for them inside their home. During this investigation, we had to enter the crawl space. In the crawl space was, lo and behold, standing water on top of the plastic, which is used for crawl space encapsulation. As you can imagine, crawl space encapsulation is a huge selling point when it comes to ensuring that no moisture or water gets in that area of your home, which can cause serious damage to your foundation. We suggested to the homeowners that they have the installer come back and re-seal their plastic since it obviously was NOT sealed. The company’s head Project Manager ended up coming to their home to perform the visit. He stated there wasn’t anything wrong and the system was functioning as normal… Considering the sump pump was installed under the plastic, we knew that was not the case. The Santa Fe dehumidifier was running practically 24/7, dramatically increasing the homeowner’s power bills. But, the system was functioning correctly? I think not. That’s $7,500 the homeowners paid for something that wasn’t capable of doing what it was supposed to do. Just another reason why we use the following quotes:

Reasons to Hire a Reputable Foundation Contractor“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

For this particular job, we would have suggested cross ventilation systems, such as the ATMOX system, prior to a product that has consistently been proven to not work, or cause other problems. If you ever have any questions, doubts, or are in need of clarification when it comes to the foundation of your home, give Nichols/Grout Tech a call. We are a foundation contractor you can trust and will be happy to help with any questions or problems that arise!

ICRI Gulf South Chapter 2018 Spring Meeting


ICRI Gulf South Chapter 2018 Spring Meeting

The  ICRI Gulf South Chapter 2018 Spring Meeting is coming up on March 8, 2018. Come and join us to learn about “Concrete Repair in Wet Environments’. The Meeting will be held at the Pensacola Bay Center at 201 East Gregory Street, Pensacola, FL 32502. The ICRI meeting agenda goes as followed:

  • 7:30 AM – Breakfast and Registration
  • 8:30 AM – ICRI Business
  • 9:00 AM – Kyle Lloyd, Exec. VP, Sika, “Watertight Concrete and Joint Design for Durability”
  • 10:00 AM – Break
  • 10:30 AM – David E. Daniell & Will Anderson, Esq., Daniell, Upton and Perry P.C., “Legal Issues Involving Concrete Repair, Avoid the Lawyers”
  • 11:30 AM – Alex Doleac, Project Manager, Baldwin Co. Economic Development Alliance, Baldwin County Economic Update
  • 12:00 PM – Lunch
  • 1:00 PM – Dave Tepke, PE SKA Consulting Engineers, “Corrosion of Reinforcing in Concrete: Mechanisms, Assessment, Mitigation & Repair”
  • 2:30 PM – Break
  • 3:00 PM – Tom Spencer, PE, Moffatt Nichol, “Waterfront Concrete Repair at Pearl Harbor”
  • 4:00 PM – Closing Comments / Open Forum
  • Register – Press Here to Register
  • Hotel – Pensacola Grand Hotel / Mention ICRI Gulf South for the Special $110 room rate

Nichols/Grout Tech is proud to be the Breakfast Sponsor for this event. The other sponsors include Coastal Construction Products as the Premier Sponsor and Sherman Industries, LLC as the Lunch Sponsor. Come and join us at this event to learn all about ‘Concrete Repair in Wet Environments’ and to get to network with some amazing people! For more information about this event and for speaker information, see below.

The Risks of Hiring a Non-Reputable Contractor


The Risks of Hiring a Non-Reputable Contractor

The one thing that cannot be stressed enough is to always hire a reputable contractor. Without doing the proper research when it comes to searching for foundation and waterproofing contractors in your area, you could wind up spending additional time and money fixing problems that should have been fixed from the beginning. Below is the perfect example.

Work from a non-reputable contractor

Job Well Done by “Competitor”

We got a call from a home that went through a complete remodel and a few additions about two years ago. These homeowners were currently experiencing settlement problems in the middle of their home. When we visited their home for an inspection to see what the problem was, we found duct tape surrounding the concrete column supporting their foundation. Duct tape. What we figured was that during the jacking process, they started to have a bit of movement in the column when setting the 4×4 onto the “shims” (wood shims should never be utilized in structural repairs). Thus, in their infinite wisdom, decided to duct tape it together in order to keep it from moving. Because yes, duct tape is an engineered product. This “foundation repair contractor” refused to return any of the homeowner’s phone calls, even though they offered them a lifetime warranty.

“The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten.”

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money — that is all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot — it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run, and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Tips When Hiring a Contractor

  •  “Cheap” is not always the best route. If the price sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Contractors should be able to provide proof of training certifications from industry sources.
  • Do your research online to learn what the company’s reputation is. Look for as many reviews as you can.
  • Make sure the company can fully explain the foundation problem, solution, and process to you including what products they will be using.

Always Call the Professionals

Nichols/Grout Tech is the industry leading foundation repair, water management, and specialty grouting company in Birmingham, AL and throughout the Southeastern United States as well. Our team is compiled of hardworking, knowledgeable individuals who have the ability to help you find a solution for you and your business, no matter what the project size may be. If you are in need of a trustworthy, reputable foundation repair contractor, contact Nichols/Grout Tech today here. We are the foundation company that you can rely on. And a company that will never use duct tape to fix your foundation.


Concrete Crack Repair Contractor in Alabama

Concrete Crack Repair Contractor in Alabama

Crack Repair Contractor in Alabama

Has this winter caused distress on your concrete? The change in temperatures and the harsh winter elements can damage concrete in a number of ways, eventually causing cracks. When this occurs, it is always best to contact a concrete crack repair contractor in Alabama as soon as you can. Waiting on these issues will only worsen them, causing you additional time and money in the future. While damaged concrete is never ideal, there are many solutions that will get your concrete looking as good as new.

Concrete Crack Repair Solutions

There are a number of concrete crack repair solutions that will solve any concrete damage that you may be dealing with. Some of these solutions include the following:

Epoxy Injection – Epoxy injection solutions help with a number of issues including protecting the rebar, stopping water leakage, and can weld cracks in the concrete back together. This method restores the concrete to its original strength and makes the concrete as good as new.

Cement Grouting – Cement grouting is the most common form of permeation grouting and is the injection under pressure grout. It uses cement-based grout and pumps it into a rock or soil formation in order to fill any voids or fractures in the formation. By using cement grouting, you will be able to repair fractures, improve stability, lift cement slabs, and more.

Polyurethane Epoxy InjectionPolyurethane Injection – Polyurethane injection solutions are similar to epoxy injections as they also protect the rebar, stop water leakage, and can weld cracks in the concrete back together. Depending on the specific situation, you may need to use polyurethane epoxy injection, which is often the only alternative to complete concrete replacement.

While these are just a few concrete crack solutions, they are all solutions that will ensure your concrete is free of cracks, stabilized, and looking its best. If you have any questions about these concrete repair solutions make sure to contact a concrete crack repair contractor in Alabama. Without using concrete crack solutions such as these, you could experience further issues such as water leakage, larger or additional cracks in the concrete, or weakening of the area surrounding the crack. This is why it is so important to routinely check the concrete on your property for any cracks or signs of possible cracking. By keeping up with this, you will save yourself the headache of cracks or any other concrete issues in your home or on your property.

If you are experiencing cracks in your concrete or believe you may have cracking issues in the near future, contact a concrete crack repair contractor in your area. Nichols/Grout Tech has a team of experts who specialize in foundation and structural repair. We are a well reputable concrete crack repair contractor in Alabama and work with only the highest quality materials. We have a team of hardworking individuals who always make sure the customer’s needs are of highest priority. If you have any questions about concrete crack repair or are interested in a free estimate, you can contact us here. Thank you for considering Nichols/Grout Tech your concrete crack repair contractor in Alabama!





Authorized Installers of Smart Vent®

Authorized Installers of Smart Vent®


Nichols/Grout Tech is proud to announce that we are now authorized installers of Smart Vents® line of products. Smart Vent® Foundation Flood Vents is what your home is in need of if you have experienced flood damage previously or are in a flood-prone location. Flood Vents protect buildings in flood-prone areas by preventing hydrostatic pressure, which is what destroys walls and foundations. Through installing Smart Vent® Foundation Flood Vents you will no longer need to worry about the chance of foundation failure when the next big storm hits.

Installers of Smart VentWhat Makes Smart Vent® so Smart?

Smart Vents® line of Flood Vents are designed to fully protect your home or building from hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure is what builds up when the flood waters are surrounding your foundation walls. This pressure eventually causes the foundation to become destroyed. Smart Vent® Flood Vents avoid this hydrostatic pressure by using a mitigation technique, referred to as Wet Floodproofing. This technique allows floodwater to flow freely through an enclosure such as a garage or crawlspace.

How it works is when flood water rises around your foundation, the rising water will activate the internal floats on the Flood Vent. When the internal floats are activated, the door will unlatch and open, allowing water to flow through a 3-inch clearance. The 3-inch clearance will allow not only water but debris to flow through as well. A normal air vent will clog debris that passes through the water. Through these Smart Vents®, you will be able to equalize the flood water pressure around your home, which can ultimately save your foundation.

Advantages of Smart Vent®

There are many advantages when it comes to Smart Vents® line of products, including the following:

  • ICC-ES Certified.
  • Compliant with FEMA and NFIP.
  • Made in the USA.
  • Made out of flood resistant stainless steel construction.
  • Recieve proper flood insurance rating with your Smart Vent® purchase.
  • Smart Vent® has 15+ years of experience in flood venting protection.
  • All Smart Vent® products are rodent resistant, unlike air vents.
  • Models available for every application.

Smart Vent® Foundation Flood VentsThrough installing Smart Vent® Foundation Flood Vents, you will no longer need to worry about foundation failure when flooding occurs in your area. If you are looking for the best solution for foundation flooding, Smart Vents® will provide the right products for you. If you are living in a flood-prone location and feel as though Smart Vents® would be a good option for you, give Nichols/Grout Tech a call today.

Nichols/Grout Tech, authorized installers of Smart Vent®, was established in 1981 and has held its reputation of a trusted contracting business in the Southeastern United States ever since. Due to our outstanding customer service and our high-quality workmanship, we have earned the reputation of being a premier concrete and foundation repair contractor in the industry. Our team is compiled of hardworking individuals who always have the customer as number one priority. If you are looking for a company who is knowledgeable in Smart Vent® Foundation Flood Vents, or other foundation repair services, give us a call today. Get an estimate by contacting us here. We look forward to being your authorized installers of Smart Vent®.



What Causes Water Problems in Alabama?

What Causes Water Problems in Alabama?

Water leaks into a basement or crawlspace through any opening it can find. This includes cracks in walls, floors, and the joints. Even the smallest openings water can get into when there is enough pressure built up. Water can even leak through the concrete itself. This is why basements and crawlspaces are notorious for being damp and humid.

Many people in Alabama experience water seepage in their basement. Why in Alabama? Alabama has shallow bedrock, seasonal high water tables, and massive clay subsoils. These circumstances cause a lot of basement and crawlspace water problems in Alabama homes. Sometimes the water issue is very apparent, sometimes it is not. This is why being knowledgeable of the signs is so important. Through knowing the signs of water issues you will be able to occasionally check your Alabama home and know right away if you need to contact the professionals. Check your basement or crawlspace for some of these signs:

  • Bowed walls
  • Foundation cracks
  • Water seepage
  • Water stains
  • Musty odors and mold

Water Problems AlabamaWaterproofing Solutions

Because Alabama basements and crawlspaces are prone to water damage, it is important to have a professional come and inspect your home and give you the solution to your wet basement or crawlspace repair needs. While many people think they can wait, or that they can fix it themselves, this is not the case when it comes to water issues. Not getting to the sole problem, or putting the issue off will only make matter worse, causing you more time and money in the long run. If you notice any of the signs above, contact a professional right away. The experts at Grout Tech can offer you several waterproofing solutions such as:

If your home is in need of a sealed waterproofing or water control system, you have come to the right place. The first step is to contact us. We will answer your questions and teach you about the sealed waterproofing solutions that will best fix your water problem. Your waterproofing contractor will give you a written proposal that details what can be done and the cost of the work. After you approve the proposal, we will seal your home against water quickly and permanently. Our team is compiled of hardworking, knowledgeable individuals who always have the customer as their number one priority. Our team ensures you quality service, a great warranty and the peace of mind in hiring the best.

Browse around this site and learn about the sealed waterproofing products and methods that can make your home safe and structurally sound. Whether you need a sump pump, interior waterproofing system or a sealed exterior water barrier, it is time to create a new living space within your home or a crawlspace free from moisture, humidity or standing water. Call Nichols / Grout Tech today to get started with your free quote.

Problems After Foundation Repair

Problems After Foundation Repair


foundation settlement, AlabamaMany people believe that, after foundation repairs are done, their home or business will be perfect. It is true that your office or home will be safer and more stable than it was before, but there may be new things that need to be taken care of. It is important to remember that foundation repairs keep your structure from collapsing, other problems are very minor, in comparison.

Foundation Repairs

Keep in mind that the reason that you need to have foundation repairs done in the first place is that your building’s foundation is damaged and weakened. Your home or business may be sinking unevenly or foundation walls are bowing or collapsing. If your office or house is settling unevenly, we will most likely use steel piers or helical piers to raise the foundation and give it a secure anchor in stable soil.

This process involves lowering piers into the soil underneath the home until they reach stronger and more stable earth. Once this is achieved, the building is anchored to the piers and the structure is raised to the correct level. In some instances, the entire dwelling has sunk equally, but other times, only one side or a corner has sunk. Our process will make sure that your home or business is level, stable, and secure.

New Cracks After Foundation Repairs

Many times after a structure is lifted, the owner may discover new cracks that weren’t there before. This can be expected on occasion. Cracks may show up in walls or ceilings because the building had been “leaning” before the repair, but now it is straightened out. There is some movement to be expected when the dwelling is lifted. The cracks aren’t serious or signs of structural damage. They can be patched up and painted over and look good as new.

If you did repairs to doors, windows, or trim prior to the foundation repair, you can also expect to have some alignment problems. The repairs were made while the building was crooked and now it is straight, so things may not line up like they had before. You may notice that there are gaps in between doors and their frames or windows may be difficult to open or won’t stay open.

You may also notice floors buckling if tile or hardwood had been laid prior to the foundation repair. Hard flooring materials may pop up or be damaged as they are less forgiving than other materials. Depending on what material your ceiling is made of, you may see some damage, also. Check your attic framing after foundation repair and make sure that it is in good condition. The whole structure was pushing and leaning in one direction, putting stress on different parts of the building. Now that it is straightened, the stressors are pulling in different directions and may cause cracks and other damage.

Foundation Repair is Important, Other Damage is Superficial

Keep in mind that your house or business has been settling over years and then was straightened out in a matter of minutes. Don’t put off having foundation repairs done just because you don’t want to have to patch a crack or replace some flooring. It is vital that you keep your foundation stable, keeping your family safe and secure. If you’d like to learn more about foundation repair and the things that need to be done before and after, give us a call. We’d like to talk to you and make sure all your concerns are addressed before undertaking foundation repairs to your business or home.

foundation repair, Birmingham

Underwater Main Line Pipe Filling Job

Underwater Main Line Pipe Filling Job

Here is a really unique project from a few years ago we wanted to share:

Nichols / Grout Tech was contacted to perform pipe filling of an underwater main line with cement-based grout, at the BWWB water reservoir facility on US 280 in Mountain Brook/Vestavia Hills. A diving company was employed to build the underwater bulkheads, as well as take the hose down to the injection ports. As seen in the photos concrete trucks ( a total of five) poured the mix into the hopper of a Nichols Concrete Equipment Company boom pump truck. The boom pumped into our single tub mixer/pump, which in turn pumped the mix through the hose and into the pipe. The usage of our single tub mixer/pump allowed for us to have greater control over the pumping pressures at the injection point of the pipe.

Another large and difficult project successfully completed by the team at Grout Tech! When all the others in town said it couldn’t be done, our team provided a build/design proposal to do what they thought impossible.

Nichols/Grout Tech: The ones the pros call when they can’t do the job.

pipe filling of an underwater main line with cement-based grout