ICRI: New board member – Our Steve Schoonover

Steve Schoonover is now an ICRI board member!

Nichols/Grout Tech is pleased to announce that our very own Steve Schoonover has been elected to the ICRI Board of Directors.

Steve is a member of the Gulf South Chapter of ICRI. ICRI is the International Concrete Repair Institute. ICRI formed to “improve the quality of concrete restoration, repair, and protection through education of, and communication among, the members and those who use their services.” (icri.org) Steve is known for always looking for the best ways to improve what we do here at Nichols/Grout Tech and now he will be sharing his passion and expertise with the board at ICRI. Congratulations Steve!

No Leak is Too Big!

No Leak is too Big!


water leak, BASF, Coastal Construction ProductsNichols/Grout Tech was recently called in to assist with a massive water infiltration at a major processing plant. Water was coming in at around 75 gallons a minute. We used BASF MasterRoc MP 355 1K and with the assistance of Ed Paradis (BASF), and Tim Fitzgerald and Yon Hammel of Coastal Construction Products, we were able to stop the water and let the processing plant get back to business.

This was a big problem and we had to get the water stopped as fast as we could, so the processing plant could be operational again.

See the footage below of this big project that we were proud to help with!


Wall Braces and Why We Don’t Like Them

Wall Braces and Why We Don’t Like Them

We’ve talked before about how the application of wall braces is a not very good repair solution. Here’s a story about a real-life run in with a wall brace repair and the disastrous results that we were asked to look at in the Birmingham area.

The picture below was taken about a year before this homeowner’s wall collapsed.

wall brace failure

About one year later, this is what happened. The collapsed wall was the result of the “repair” by another contractor.

foundation wall collapse

The homeowner hired another company and the contractor suggested they install the squared steel tubes that you see next to the foundation. In addition, the contractor painted the walls with an “interior waterproofing” paint. Paint will do nothing to stabilize the wall against hydrostatic pressure. Hydrostatic pressure is caused by the soil on the outside of the foundation getting oversaturated. The soil and water mixture pushes against the wall with extreme force.

It’s difficult to see in the photograph, but buried in the rubble, is a squared steel brace. This brace failed because the wall collapsed from the top, ripping the brace out of the wooden floor joist that it was secured to. According to the owner, the company that installed this “repair” said it would be at least three months before they could have anyone available to look at the damage. A lifetime warranty is worthless if the company doesn’t offer the customer service to back it. The homeowner then turned to Nichols/Grout Tech to take a look at the problems.

Repairs Done Right by Nichols/Grout Tech

It was easy to see that this mess couldn’t wait three months to be repaired. First, the floor would need to be strengthened with floor jacks. Our structural engineer determined how many floor supports we would need and the best place to put them.

The next step would be to clear the soil away from the exterior to alleviate the pressure against the foundation wall. This would reduce the chances of another wall collapse.

Next, we had our structural engineer design the correction. Seems simple, but if the original contractor had used a structural engineer licensed in the State of Alabama, this whole mess could’ve been avoided. If, for whatever reason, you don’t choose Nichols/Grout Tech, always ask the engineer if he is a licensed structural engineer before hiring them. Make sure they answer the question directly, stating that they are a structural engineer. There are a lot of bait and switch scams out there.

Lesson NOT Learned

Nichols/Grout Tech offered to do the repairs, including removing the squared steel tubes that remained. The homeowner decided to go with another company (the third one) for the repairs. The said they went with them because the other company said they could fix the wall, provide a lifetime warranty, and would leave the support beams.

The repair by this company was to rebuild the wall and fill it with concrete. This is better than the previous repair, but not the best solution. In addition, we wonder if the homeowner was told the lifetime warranty only applied to the rebuilt wall and that in Alabama and over 40 other states, a “lifetime” warranty is only good for seven years.

We wish this homeowner the best and hope that they don’t have any further problems. If they do, we’re here to offer our help again.

Steel Wall Braces Are Not A Good Option

Most reliable foundation contractors know that steel braces are not a good solution and have discarded their use as a viable option. There are several reasons why they are a poor choice for foundation repair:

1. Steel wall braces are a passive system. The braces don’t hold the wall until the wall leans even more. You can see how this is not an effective solution since the goal of the repair is to prevent the wall from moving at all.

2. The movement that is allowed is usually drastic. Even after the steel wall braces are installed, we have seen up to 2″ of movement in the concrete blocks.

Rhino Carbon Fiber3. We have two better solutions for leaning walls. One is carbon fiber straps, the second one is helical tiebacks. If the wall has less than one inch of lean, we prefer to install Rhino carbon fiber straps. Rhino has an unprecedented ZERO failure rate on their strips when they are installed correctly.

Trust Your Contractor

As much as we enjoy foundation repair, we really only want to do a job once, so we do it right the first time. We’ll make the best recommendations for repairing the damage and from keeping it from occurring again. And, most importantly, we use a licensed structural engineer, ensuring that the solution will be 100% effective.

Repairing New Concrete – A Case Study

Repairing New Concrete – A Case Study

It isn’t always time and the elements that can cause repairs to be needed. Nichols/Grout Tech was called in to repair concrete being done on new construction in the Birmingham area.

On this project, the contractor formed and poured concrete walls using self-consolidating concrete (SCC). Under normal circumstances, SCC does not need to be vibrated to allow the concrete to flow and release air bubbles. Unfortunately, something went wrong and the concrete had pockets of air inside the walls. This is called “honeycombing” and, if not repaired, the pockets can allow water to creep into the basement.

Nichols/Grout Tech was asked to come in and repair the damaged concrete. We used Xypex MegaMix II. This is a thick mortar used for patching and resurfacing concrete. In addition, Xypex MegaMix II also has a unique crystalline waterproofing and protection technology.

The poured concrete walls are now sealed and the project can continue.

honeycombed concrete

An area of the honeycombed SCC.


repaired concrete

The same area with the XYPEX Megamix II troweled into the honeycombed area. Note when the MegaMix II is finished and sets, it will be fairly smooth and a lighter color.

concrete repair

A view from above. Both sides of this wall had to be completed. As you can see, the product sets fairly fast.

Problems With Wall Braces

Problems With Wall Braces


Florida panhandle, foundation repairThere are many solutions for bowed or leaning wall repair and, as you would expect, some are better than others. Every situation is unique and so a professional needs to inspect the property and determine the best solution for your foundation problem.

Bowing Out

A bowing or leaning wall is a bad sign of foundation damage. By the time a wall becomes noticeably damaged, the problem has been building for a long time. A leaning or bowed wall occurs when the soil behind it exerts pressure on the concrete or brick. This can occur when the soil is made up of expansive clay, frost heave takes place, or the soil becomes oversaturated. When this occurs, the weakest link is the one that gives. This is usually the foundation wall.

Without anything being done to repair the damaged wall, eventually it will fail and there is a strong chance your entire house could collapse. As you can see from the picture at the bottom, a failed wall can cause a lot of problems.

Wall Braces

Some companies rely solely on wall braces for leaning wall problems. A wall brace is usually fitted into the floor and then secured to the floor joists. The braces can only go towards the wall as far as the bulge is. The rest of the wall has no support and can collapse. In addition, the pressure from the failing wall can push the floor joists, causing floors to sag or be uneven. Lastly, as you can see in the photo, if the wall brace isn’t properly installed, it can fail, allowing the wall to collapse. Wall braces are an option, but we like to use solutions that are more reliable and effective.

Bowing Wall Solutions

helical tiebacks for foundation repair in alabamaOne of the bowing wall solutions that we have found great success with is a helical tieback. A helical tieback consists of a wall plate, a connecting rod, and a screw-like anchor that is driven into the soil, tightening and supporting the wall.

Helical tiebacks are easy to install, use lightweight equipment, and can be installed any time of year. These are a permanent solution to a bowing or leaning wall. They can be tightened at any time in the future, if needed.

Straighten Up!

Bowing or leaning walls are a serious problem, so make sure that you have a reliable and trustworthy company like Nichols Grout/Tech doing the repairs. Your home is a huge investment and it protects you and your family. Do your part to make sure that your home is stable and secure.


What’s the Price for Peace of Mind?

What’s the Price for Peace of Mind?


Your home is your biggest investment and keeping your family safe and secure is priceless, but there comes a time where your budget has to meet reality, right?

foundation repair costsOur financing options are offered through EnerBankUSA. EnerBankUSA specializes in providing home improvement loans to people throughout the country. Click here or contact us for more information regarding our financial assistance program.

Average Costs Around the Country

Helical Pile World (HPW) contacted 21 installation contractors, distributors, and manufacturers around the country. Keep in mind that there are many variables that come into play when estimating the cost of a project. Some things are under a contractor’s control, while others are not. Factors such as weather, material costs, problems with the site, and so on can all impact the final price of any project.

All the companies that were contacted stated that per pile prices would be higher if the site was problematic. Additionally, prices per pile would be lower if the project was larger than 30 piles and the site was in good condition.

Sample Projects for Estimates

cost of foundation repairThe sample project that HPW asked the participants to quote included the following details:

  • 20-foot pile with two galvanized bearing plates
  • 20 kip* allowable capacity
  • No cobbles or other obstructions in the soil
  • New construction pile cost, 30 piles or less
  • Residential remedial application costs

* A kip is a unit of measurement used in structural engineering. One kip is equal to 1000 pounds-force.

The first project that was quoted was for new construction helical piles with grade beam caps. The prices ranged from $790 in the Northwest section of the country to $680 in the West/Southwest. Our area of the country came in at $690, so on the low end of the spectrum.

The second project, the remedial helical pile with bracket, had a little bit bigger range of pricing. The West/Southwest was the highest region at $1410. The Midwest/Plains states had the low end of the range at $1090. Our part of the country is in the middle, coming in at $1120.

These prices are for a residential project on a typical site. Commercial properties or challenging sites would be priced higher. Schedule a free estimate for a better idea of what your particular project would be priced at.

You Get What You Pay For

Also, keep in mind that the lowest price is not always the best deal. You may save some money right now, but if the work isn’t done correctly or the materials used are cheaply made, you’ll be spending more to have the damage repaired and the project done right a second time. Make sure you use a contractor with a reputation for good work, helpful customer service, and uses quality products. Give Nichols Grout/Tech a call to learn more about how we can make your home stable at competitive prices and financial assistance program.

foundation repair costs around the world.

Credit: Helical Pile World

Why Choose Nichols/Grout Tech?

Choosing The Right Contractor

There are a lot of causes for having a company like Nichols/Grout Tech come perform repairs at your home or business. You may be in need of foundation repairs, waterproofing, concrete leveling, or pressure grouting. But why choose Nichols/Grout Tech over all the other companies in the area?

Alabama Foundation Repair, Grouting, & Waterproofing


Industry Leading Products

Nichols/Grout Tech makes sure that their professionals have the best tools and products to get the job done right. Some of the brands that we prefer are:

BASFRhino Carbon FiberSikaXypexEarth Contact Products





When these products and tools are used to repair your foundation or waterproof your basement, you can feel confident that the repairs will be effective and last for years.

Get An Estimate

Repairs to your home are a big decision and we want you to be assured that you have made the right decision. By providing you an estimate, Nichols/Grout Tech gives you the opportunity to see what repairs need to be done and how much it will cost, so you will have the information you need to determine the next step.

We recommend you get a couple of estimates, but remember price isn’t everything. There are some things involved with these kinds of repairs that are going to cost a certain amount of money for quality. Be wary of pricing that is significantly less than others, costs are being cut somewhere and foundation repair and waterproofing are areas where you want high standards used.

Professional and Certified Contractors

It doesn’t matter if you have the best tools in the industry if you don’t have the personnel to use them correctly. Nichols/Grout Tech employs only professional and certified contractors for all of our foundation repair, sinkhole remediation, and waterproofing services.

Nichols/Grout Tech knows that your home or business is a big investment and an important part of your life. We take care of your building and treat it like it’s ours. Our professional contractors will treat you with honesty and integrity. We are affiliated with Structural Engineers Association of Alabama (SEA), Deep Foundations Institute (DFI), and International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI). Our contractors are always learning and implementing proven and innovative methods of home repair.

100% Customer Satisfaction

All of the reasons above mean nothing if you’re not satisfied. We have world-class customer service and strive to make every project have a 5-star rating. But don’t take our word for it, click here to read real life testimonials from our customers.

No matter the size or scope of a project, Nichols/Grout Tech has the people and tools to get the job done right, quickly and effectively. Our goal is 100% satisfied customers and we’ll go the extra mile to make sure you are happy with the results of your foundation repair, basement waterproofing, grouting application, or crawlspace repair service.

Contact us today to learn more about all that Nichols/Grout Tech has to offer your home or business. We look forward to working with you to return your home’s stability and comfort.

Nichols/Grout Tech Proudly Serves The Florida Panhandle


The Florida Panhandle is a unique geographical location. The area regularly receives over 62 inches of rain and can be impacted by weather from the Atlantic, the Gulf of Mexico and from areas located to the north.

With the weather coming at you from every direction, your home takes a beating all year, every year. The rainfall, high winds, and temperature changes all take a toll on your foundation.

Areas We Serve In The Panhandle

Nichols/Grout Tech is dedicated to providing solutions for the common problems that occur in cities in the Florida Panhandle like:

  • Florida panhandle, foundation repairCrestview
  • Destin
  • Marianna
  • Milton
  • Panama City
  • Pensacola
  • Tallahassee

No matter where you live in the panhandle, Nichols/Grout Tech has you covered for foundation repair, basement waterproofing, and crawlspace repair.

Foundation Problems In Florida

The soil in Northwestern Florida is unpredictable, so many homes and buildings shift, settle, or sink. Fortunately, Nichols/Grout Tech is here to stabilize and strengthen your home or business. Some issues that are unique to this area include sinkholes, beach erosion, and voids.

Through the use of industry leading products and tools, our foundation repair experts can quickly and effectively repair any foundation problems you may be having. We can help with sinking and settling foundations, cracks in floors, walls, and garage columns, bowing or leaning walls, and problems in your crawl space.

There are many causes of foundation problems in the Florida Panhandle. Some of the most common are erosion, soil overloading, and poor compaction. Keep an eye out for signs of foundation damage such as wall cracks, sticking doors or windows, water in your basement, or uneven floors. Any one of these indications could be a sign of a much bigger foundation problem.

Foundation Solutions For Florida Panhandle

It is important that you hire someone who knows the soil and makeup of the Florida earth and weather. Nichols/Grout Tech has years of experience in the area and we use tools and products from Earth Contact Products. We will inspect your Florida home or business  and work with you to make an individualized plan that will meet your needs and budget.

Contact us today to learn more about our services for the Florida panhandle and surrounding areas.

Florida, panhandle, sinkhole, foundation repair

Operation: Room Retreat Reveal

Edit: This is an update on our previous entry about Joshua Randall and the renovation we were a part of.

renovation, Grout TechOperation: Room Retreat is a program hosted by WBRC Fox6 News in Birmingham, AL. General Manager Collin Gaston was disturbed to find that 20 American military veterans were committing suicide every day. Considering the entire United States records 121 suicides a day, the percentage that are veterans is alarming. Gaston and WBRC wanted to reach out and help make the lives of veterans and their families a little brighter and so was the beginning of Operation: Room Retreat.

WBRC partnered with Active Heroes to help make this program a success. Active Heroes is a non-profit organization that, according to their website, “support[s] all U.S. military service members, veterans, and their families through physical, educational, and emotional programs in an effort to eliminate suicide.”

People were asked to nominate a deserving veteran for a retreat makeover. Brandi Randall nominated her husband, Joshua, a seven-year Army veteran. Joshua and Brandi are the parents of three children and Brandi wanted to give Joshua a “man cave” where he could have some quiet time. Joshua served two tours of Afghanistan and his wife says he is a giving person who is always ready to help others.

beforerenovation, Nichols

With the help of several sponsors including Nichols/Grout Tech, Jasper Honda/Hyundai, Jack’s, Alloy Wheel Repair, Nichols Outfitters, Hill’s Carpet and Floor Covering, Window World of Central Alabama, Shipp Roofing, Andy OnCall, On Time Electric, eCO Credit Union, and Frank’s Furniture Warehouse. Joshua and his family were able to be the recipients of a quiet area where they can unwind.

We at Nichols/Grout Tech are proud to be a part of this program and seeing the appreciation of Joshua and his family made it all the better. Nichols/Grout Tech is dedicated to standing behind our veterans and we thank all veterans for their service and appreciate the sacrifices that they have made and continue to make.

If you are a veteran, or you know a veteran, that may need help with depression or suicidal thoughts, contact Active Heroes or other organizations like Jason’s Box. Please use the hashtag #ImStillHere in social media to let fellow veterans know that they aren’t alone when it comes to dealing with dark times. Let’s work together to give our veterans the support they need and deserve.

Alabama Sinkholes

Alabama Sinkholes and Nichols/Grout Tech

Alabama sinkholeSinkholes in our area are nothing new, but aside from being a nuisance, they can be extremely destructive. A sinkhole can quickly appear and, just as quickly, become large enough to damage property and endanger people. According to the Geological Survey of Alabama, sinkholes are the number cause of land subsidence. Subsidence is the sinking of soil, usually due to natural causes under the surface.

A large portion of Alabama is resting on a surface of limestone. Limestone is easily worn away by water, causing the formation of underground caves and sinkholes. There is a section of Northern Alabama, in Morgan County, that has an area peppered with sinkholes over four miles long. The largest sinkhole in the state is located in Shelby County. The Golly Hole near Calera, AL is over 100 yards in diameter and is over 120 feet deep. Fortunately, it occurred in a rural area and no one was injured and no property was damaged when it opened.

If a sinkhole opens near you, there are some steps you can take.

  1.  This is the most important step: Place barriers and other warning signs around the sinkhole. This is to protect others and to protect yourself against liability claims.
  2. Contact your insurance company.
  3. Contact Nichols/Grout Tech to inspect the sinkhole and determine the steps needed to repair the damage.
  4. If the sinkhole is impacting public property, roads, or the safety of others, you may need to contact your local government.

Taking these steps will help make sure that others are safe and that you are protected from any liability issues.

Nichols/Grout Tech Can Help With Your Sinkhole

In early 2016 a sinkhole developed within the driveway of a residence. Through geotechnical investigations, it was determined this was one of a number of sinkholes, which are likely connected to each other. Working directly with the homeowners, insurance company, geotechnical engineers, and utility contractors, our team of sinkhole experts at Nichols/Grout Tech remediated the primary sinkhole.

This was accomplished by removing soils in a circular pattern around the sinkhole, which had a total diameter of approximately 40 feet, with the soils removed for approximately 10 feet in depth. After removal, geogrid and filter fabric was placed at the bottom of the excavation, soils were replaced in 8-inch lifts and compacted to approximately 98%.

Once our repairs were completed, the sinkhole stopped growing and the surrounding area was stable and secure. Contact the sinkhole professionals at Nichols/Grout Tech if you have a sinkhole on your property. Even what appears to be a small hole can be hiding a much larger problem under the surface that can cause serious damage and injury. Call us today, we look forward to hearing from you and helping remedy your sinkhole situation.