Why Grout Tech is a Foundation Repair Specialist for all of Alabama

Why Choose Grout Tech for AL Foundation Repair?

Nichols / Grout Tech is your number one source for foundation repair. With over 28 years of experience in foundation repair and 30 in concrete grouting, we offer tested solutions to take care of issues in your home. We also offer repair solutions to a wide range of states. Our service area stretches across all of Alabama and other areas: Mississippi, Southwest Georgia, the Florida Panhandle, and Tennessee.

Professional Affiliations and Products in Alabama

Not only are we professionals, but we are affiliated with some of the highest ranking professional organizations in the industry:

  • Deep Foundations Institute
  • International Concrete Repair Institute (ICRI)
  • My Foundation Repairs
  • Structural Engineers Association (SEA) Alabama

We also offer a range of new technology, such as carbon fiber repair. Rhino carbon fiber strips are a highly effective solution used to support shifting foundations. These strips are just one of the many new innovations in today’s foundation repair industry. Other advanced technology products that we use include underpinning piers from the leading brand, Earth Contact Products (ECP).

Versatile Foundation Repair from Nichols / Grout Tech

If all of these benefits are not reason enough to choose Grout Tech, consider the many options we offer for repairs. We offer concrete grouting as well as underpinning solutions. This allows us to lift foundations with steel piers and fill voids with slabjacking. We even offer waterproofing services. Our most popular expert solutions include:

  • Grout Tech of AlabamaUnderpinning: We use helical piers and steel push piers to support foundations. These piers are installed from underground to offer lift and stabilization.
  • Basement Wall Repair: Another kind of foundation repair involves stabilizing shifted foundations. For this, we use helical tiebacks and carbon fiber strips. These solutions straighten bowing and leaning foundation walls.
  • Void Filling: Injecting polyurethane grout can help raise and repair sinking foundations. We also offer specialty grouting services like pipe grouting, probe grouting, and chemical grouting.
  • Sinkhole Repair: We use our specialized void filling techniques to fill in sinkholes under your Alabama home or in your yard. Why Choose Nichols / Grout Tech in ALThis can help prevent sinking and settling foundations.
  • Waterproofing: Keeping your home protected from water entry is important. That is why we offer solutions like interior drainage, exterior drainage, surface drainage, and sump pumps.
  • Concrete Repair: If your concrete foundation is too severely damaged, we can replace the slab. We use our concrete repair services to fix pools, driveways, and other kinds of concrete slabs.
  • Crawlspace Repair: Using vapor barriers to keep moisture out of your crawlspace can prevent a multitude of issues. From mold growth to foundation deterioration, our crawlspace repair services can help keep issues from popping up in your home.

The wide range of services that we provide is just one of the reasons to choose Grout Tech for foundation repair across Alabama. Our team is experienced and can get you the most reliable products to ensure that the repairs last. Call us today to get an inspection and estimate scheduled!

Leaning Chimney Fixes and Repairs

Repairing A Leaning Chimney

A leaning chimney is more than unsightly, it can be hazardous and should be repaired Leaning chimney repair by Grout Techquickly. Falling bricks could injure a person or damage property. If the chimney is leaning, it can allow water and pests to invade your home and if the interior liner is cracked, dangerous gases could enter, causing health risks for your family. A leaning chimney may also be a sign of bigger foundation problems and should be fixed by an expert.

Aside from being a potential hazard, a leaning chimney can lower your home value and, when combined with other signs, may be an indication that your foundation has been damaged. These signs include uneven floors, sticking windows and bowed or leaning walls. A compromised foundation should be repaired as soon any damage is found. The professionals at Grout Tech can inspect your home and give you an estimate, making sure your home is safe and secure.

The Chimney-Foundation Connection

The chimney is connected to your foundation, so a problem with your chimney is probably impacting the rest of your home. The chimney is built on a concrete pad or footing. This pad may or may not have been poured at the same time as the foundation, but it will still be affected by the same issues, regardless. Some causes of a leaning chimney are an undersized or shallow footing, poor soil, or a damaged or missing pad. Some problems that can cause issues for your foundation, along with your chimney, are soil erosion, sinkholes, poor construction techniques or organic causes such as trees or roots.

Grout Tech has the expertise and quality products to fix your leaning chimney. We utilize the best tool for the situation, such as helical piers or steel piers to create a solid foundation for your chimney. Helical piers resemble giant screws and are driven into the ground, past the compromised soil, into a more solid foundation. The chimney is righted and then fastened to the piers, making the chimney as solid as ever, if not more. Steel piers work under a similar idea but are rods that are pushed into the more secure soil. The experts at Grout Tech will work with you to make sure you have the best solution for your particular need of chimney repair.

Common Problem – Concrete Cracks

Concrete Cracks are a Common Problem

A crack in your concrete doesn’t have to cause structural problems to be a nuisance. A Concrete contractor in Birmingham, Alabama, Nichols/GroutTechcrack no bigger than a hair can let in water and some pests need only a gap 1/64 of an inch to enter your home. A larger crack can create a tripping hazard for your guests and family. A qualified specialist from Grout Tech needs to inspect your particular situation and can then determine what the cause of the crack is and what needs to be done to repair your concrete.

There are several causes of cracks, each with their own set of issues. Shrinkage occurs when new concrete dries and cures. Some small cracking may happen and doesn’t usually indicate any structural damage. Trees, roots and other plants may cause cracks large and small in your concrete. Plants may push soil and concrete out of place, creating cracks. In addition, a dead tree or root may cause voids in the soil when they decompose, allowing the ground to collapse, in turn creating an uneven base. Wet and dry soil can cause problems of their own. Oversaturation can cause the soil to shift or apply pressure to your concrete, whereas drought conditions can cause the soil to collapse, creating voids in the earthen foundation. Lastly, a large vehicle may be driven over sidewalks or onto other concrete services, causing cracks to form.

Concrete Crack Repair Solutions

The professionals at Grout Tech can take a look at your concrete crack and work with you on the best method to discover the cause and then repair the issue. One of our specialties is to use a polyurethane or epoxy injection. This will seal the crack, protect the underlying rebar and stop water from leaking through.

If you discover a concrete crack, you should contact Grout Tech as soon as possible. The quicker you address the situation, the better the chance that a small problem doesn’t become a big problem.

Is Alabama Prone to Sinkholes?

Are Sinkholes Common in Alabama?

Sinkholes can have many causes, both natural and man-made. The collapse is usually Sinkhole repair in Alabama by Grout Techdue to low water levels underground and Alabama is home to more underground rivers than any other state. In addition to that, much of Alabama sits on soft limestone, which easily erodes and collapses. Underground caves and springs can contribute to sinkholes, along with poor drainage, abandoned water wells and buried construction materials.

Some warning signs of a developing sinkhole are slumping and sagging fence posts and leaning trees. In addition, you may notice foundation and floor cracks or windows and doors that have trouble opening or staying open. Sinking steps or uneven concrete slabs may also be signs of potential sinkholes.

If you suspect a sinkhole is developing you need to do the following:

  1. Put up a flag or fence around the area, so that other people do not unknowingly fall into it.
  2. Contact your insurance company. Before a sinkhole occurs, make sure that your homeowner insurance covers damage from sinkholes.
  3. Contact your city or public works department, especially if the sinkhole is impacting sidewalks or roads.
  4. Contact Grout Tech to assist you in locating a geotechnical engineer. Only an engineer can determine if it is truly a sinkhole or some other situation.

If your property receives damage from a sinkhole, contact Grout Tech immediately. Our experts can help you with sinkhole repair and remediation.

Sinkhole Repair Solutions in Alabama

There are two methods of sinkhole repair. One method is called grouting, this involves pumping material into the ground, filling the void caused by the sinkhole. Another method of sinkhole remediation is to stabilize the home or business’ foundation using underpinning.

The underpinning method of sinkhole repair uses a pier to create a more firm foundation. The building is secured to the piers, strengthening the foundation and returning structural integrity to your home or business.

Sinkholes can range from a small divot in your yard to a large hole, capable of swallowing vehicles and buildings. The professionals at Grout Tech can help you with locating a geotechnical engineer to determine your situation, in addition to assist you with all of your sinkhole repair and remediation.

Common Signs of Building Foundation Problems in Birmingham, Alabama

Common Problems to Look for in Birmingham Homes and Businesses

Foundation failure is a problem that grows exponentially with time. The longer you wait to get repairs the more expensive, time-consuming, and complex the repairs become. The best way to avoid costly repairs is to get smaller repairs as soon as you notice a problem. Keeping an eye out for common foundation problems at all times will help you keep your home protected from foundation failure. There are three signs that are the most common beginnings of foundation failure.Foundation Problems in Birmingham, Alabama

The first common sign of foundation problems is cracked or crumbling foundations. Obviously, when looking for foundation issues, the best way to start is to begin with the foundation itself. Look for cracks, separating walls and seems, crumbling or flaking concrete, sloping floors, and moisture–including water stains, pools of water, and humid air. Inspect both the inside and outside of the foundation.

The second sign is water damage and soil shifting. Improper drainage is the leading cause of foundation failure. When the moisture gets trapped in or around your foundation, it can lead to a variety of problems. Check for moisture around the home, especially around the basement. If there are existing cracks, water may leak into the basement. Water stains, mold and mildew, rotting wood, and seepage are all things you can check for.

The third sign is sagging floors and warped ceilings. Check for floors that slope or are uneven, sticking doors and windows, exposed gaps, and separating walls. These signs can be relatively easy to spot since they are affecting things you use and see almost every day. You can use tennis balls to check the level of the flooring. It should stay still or barely roll. If it rolls to one side of the room or the other, you may have the beginnings of foundation failure.

Foundation Inspections and Repairs: Early and Often

Check your Birmingham home or business for these signs of foundation failure often. If you are not confident about checking for yourself, we can inspect your home for damage. Nichols/Grout Tech offers both residential and commercial foundation repair services in Birmingham, Alabama. Catching these signs early will help you keep your home or business safe from serious foundation failure. Contact us today to learn more about our foundation repair and waterproofing services. Our service area covers seven states, including Alabama, Tennessee, and Mississippi. Give us a call today!


Winter is Here – Alabama Can Expect Trouble with their Foundations!

Be Prepared for Winter Foundation Trouble in Alabama

The last two years have given Alabama trouble. Winter has not been forgiving and it is likely that this year will be no different. There have been three major winter storms over the past two years. They brought snow and ice to the state of Alabama. This year, Alabama Emergency Management Agency and National Weather Service offices in Alabama are taking precautions. The El Nino could mean storms for the South. Does this mean snow and ice? While it is too early to tell for sure, it is best to be prepared for the worst.foundation repair in alabama winter

The best way to be prepared is to keep your home safe from the snow and ice. The cold temperatures can cause a variety of problems for your home or business and its foundation. The concrete may split and crack and cause your foundation to sink and settle. It may lead to bowing or leaning walls. Keep your eyes out for signs of foundation failure and call Nichols/Grout Tech if you notice them. Some signs to look out for include:

Foundation Repair in the Alabama Winter

Foundation problems can lead to many more problems for your home or business in the future. The foundation of a building is where the majority of the structural integrity is. If it is not protected and strong, your home or business may be in danger. Contact us here at Nichols/Grout Tech and we can help you with all your foundation repair needs. We offer a variety of services and products to repair your home or business’ foundation. Some of these services include:

Waterproofing your Alabama Home or Business

If your home or business has foundation problems, water damage may also be an issue. Foundation cracks may allow water to seep into your basement or crawl space. Even without foundation issues, water damage may still affect your Alabama home or business. If you experience mold and mildew, humid basement, wet crawlspace, or water stains, you may need waterproofing services from Nichols/Grout Tech.

These snowy, icy winters can be dangerous for Alabama residents, but remember that your home or business is also in danger. Stay safe through the winter by preparing yourself and your home. Contact us today for more information on our foundation repair and waterproofing services. Our service area spans seven states, including Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and more. Give us a call today!

How El Nino Affects Winter in Alabama

El Nino and Winter in Alabama

el nino winter in alabamaWhat is El Nino and what damage does it cause? El Nino is a periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean that sets off unstable weather patterns across the globe. Every time one develops in Alabama, cooler and wetter develop in the fall and winter months. The most serious El Nino weather pattern occurred in 1997, creating floods and more snowfall in well-populated areas of the country. If you live in Alabama, make sure your home is prepared for El Nino. Too much water can lead to excess water around the foundation and foundation walls, causing wall cracks and water damage. At Nichols / GroutTech, we offer foundation repair and waterproofing solutions to prevent floods and water disasters.

How to Protect Your Basement Against Floods in Alabama?

Because El Nino brings in a large amount of snow and water, it’s important to repair any cracks in the foundation walls to prevent snowmelt from seeping through. As the water pressures build up in the soil, it pushes against the foundation walls and causes them to bow.

el nino winter preparation in alabamaAt Nichols / GroutTech, we offer Rhino Carbon Fiber for wall support to stop the wall from moving. Rhino Carbon Fiber consists of strong carbon fiber that uses a galvanized bracket to connect to the base of the foundation and the framing of the home. With Rhino Carbon Fiber, repairs can be made from inside the basement without excavation. Other benefits include:

  • Consists of strong, durable carbon fiber that is stronger than steel
  • Cost effective solution
  • Fast, clean installation
  • No deterioration
  • No movement or shifting
  • Can be easily painted
  • Creates a smooth finish
  • Supports and stabilizes the foundation walls

Also, make sure you have a working sump pump. If you don’t have one, now is the time to buy one. Sump pumps will prevent water from entering your basement by collecting water and pumping it outside of the home. If your home is equipped with a sump pump, test it on a regular basis by pouring water into the basin to ensure it works properly. If not, contact Nichols / GroutTech, so we can inspect it and install a new one. The last thing you want is to have a malfunctioning sump pump right when you need it.

Because of El Nino, expect cooler and wetter winters in Alabama. Make sure your home is prepared by investing in Rhino Carbon Fiber and reliable sump pumps. Our foundation repair and waterproofing solutions will put an end to wet basements, foundation damage,  and damp crawlspaces in Alabama.

Common Birmingham, AL Foundation Problems

Common Foundation Problems in Birmingham, AL

Some of the most common foundation problems in Alabama are issues that cause your foundation to settle, sink, shift, and crack. Most of these issues occur when there is a lack of or an excess of moisture in the soil beneath your home. Other problems are caused by surface water, vegetation growth, and poor construction. Some of these foundation problems are:

  • Sinking Foundations: Usually caused by settlement of the soil under the home due to erosion, soil shrinkage, or poorly compacted soil.
  • Common Foundation Problems in Birmingham, ALSlab Cracks: Cracks can form in your slab due to how the concrete was mixed or due to settlement or shifting of the foundation with varying moisture in the soil.
  • Wall Cracks: Wall cracks are normally the result of settlement or shifting in the foundation, and basement wall cracks might also be caused by pooling water.
  • Sticking Windows and Doors: If your windows and doors are sticking, it could mean that your foundation has started to settle in spots, leaving them unsupported.
  • Bowing and Leaning Walls: Bowing or leaning walls in the basement indicates high soil pressure, caused by excess water in the soil, and this problem can also lead to wall cracks.
  • Sloped or Uneven Floors: The floor in your home may slope if the foundation settles, or if the support beams underneath rot due to basement/crawlspace water issues.

These are all some of the common foundation problems in Birmingham, Alabama homes. If you notice these problems forming due to the moisture variation in the soil under your home, contact us today.

Solutions for Common Birmingham, Alabama Foundation Problems

Here at Nichols/GroutTech, we provide all of the foundation repair solutions that you could need to fix the foundation problems in your home. Whether these problems are caused by a settling foundation or foundation cracks, we have the solutions that you need.

If your foundation has started to settle, Grout Tech offers a few different solutions to lift the concrete and support the sinking foundation. These solutions involve using an underpinning technique to install piers beneath the concrete. We use both helical piers, which screw into the ground, and steel push piers, which drive into the ground. These piers offer the support and the lift that the foundation needs to be restored to normal.Common Foundation Problems Solutions in Birmingham, Alabama

For shifting foundations and bowing basement walls, we use tieback techniques to pull the foundation into place. These devices are installed in the ground adjacent to the foundation wall and then attached to the concrete. The anchors we use are helical tiebacks, which work much like the helical piers discussed above, except they are installed in the ground horizontally. We can also use carbon fiber repair strips on the interior basement walls to keep them from bowing inward and cracking.

In addition to these foundation repair solutions, we offer slabjacking procedures to support your foundation and fill voids that may have formed underneath. Contact Nichols/GroutTech today for solutions to foundation problems in Birmingham, AL.

Value: Food for Thought

When it Comes to Waterproofing & Foundation Repair, Cheap isn’t Always Best

We bid jobs often for foundation repairs, waterproofing, grouting, concrete repair and more. Sometimes Nichols / Grout Tech will be the lowest bid, but not always. This is because we will never sacrifice quality for price. Quality of work should always be the priority, and although Nichols / Grout Tech aims to offer the best pricing, we also aim to do the best work with the best products available on the market today. Be believe that is the best way to do business, and the best way to serve our customers well. Your home or your business, we get that it is your biggest investment, and therefore compromises cannot be made.

So, for today, we would like to share some food for thought. Remember, when it comes to your home or your business, cheapest and fastest isn’t always the best:

Author Unknown

“There is hardly anything in the world that some man cannot do a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price only are that man’s lawful prey.”

VALUEvalue for foundation repair & waterproofing in Alabama
1819-1900 (English Writer)

“It’s unwise to pay too much but it’s unwise 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 you bought it 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’s well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better!”

So if quality is what you seek, as well as value, call Nichols / Grout Tech today. We look forward to give you exactly what you deserve – our best work!

Internal Drainage Information

Internal Drainage Systems: Different than Waterproofing Systems

There are systems which manage the water once it has entered into a crawlspace or basement (home). Sometimes these systems are incorrectly referred to, or sold as, waterproofing systems. Generally, the system will have a series of drains and/or pipe located in the interior space and placed adjacent the foundation wall. More often than not the drain pipe will flow to a sump pump, which in turn pumps the water collected out of crawlspace or basement and into the yard. These systems are sometimes required due to limited accessibility of a site, or sites which do not have terrain that would support an exterior drainage correction. The percentage of homes requiring such systems, though, is quite low. In our opinion, such systems have major flaws when used improperly. In the next series of posts, we will explore the pros and cons of these systems.

The Pros and Cons of Internal Drainage Systems

1) They do not aid in prevention of the excess water entering the home; exactly the internal drainage Alabamaopposite occurs. These systems invite the water to flow under the footing and usually create a path of least resistance. After several years, foundation failure may occur in the direct vicinity of the drains, as water will take the path of that least resistance, flowing under and undermining the footing.

2) Block is porous and, to a lesser extent, so is concrete. By allowing the water to continue to flow against the exterior wall continued damage of the block and concrete footer(s) is still occurring! But, now that such damage is “out of sight” it likely won’t be detected for many years. Typically, once the damage is detected, it is by failure of the foundation or foundation walls.

3) For these internal systems to function correctly, especially in crawlspaces, water must build up in the pipe before flow to the sump pump occurs. This means that sometimes the water never makes it to the pump. So, the water is, again, sitting in the crawl space.

4) Internal french drainage systems typically require a great deal of water to build up in the drainage ditch, and then into the drain pipe, before it begins functioning. As discussed previously, this means that the water never actually exits your basement or crawlspace. The photo to the right shows a cutoff french drain system. As you can see, unless water migrates into the pipe from above, it would take approximately 5 inches of water to build up in the ditch and then enter the pipe. While this drainage system is fine for outdoors, and typically solves the majority of exterior water issues, you can plainly see that the ditch will continue to hold water, which remains in your crawlspace or basement.

5) All sump pump housings (a.k.a. basin, pit, or even drywell) must have a few to several gallons of water in them prior to the pump switching on. If the pump doesn’t switch on, the water sits in the collection cistern where the pump is located, which is, again, in/under your home.

6) All sump pumps fail. While many sump pumps have good warranties, this does not mean they will not fail. And, when do they fail? When you need them to be working! Many times this is when a power failure occurs. Most installers, including GROUT TECH, offer systems with redundant pumps (2 pumps in one housing) so that a second pump will kick in should the first fail. We also offer systems with battery backups should power failure occur. Naturally, these system get more expensive as you add options.

7) YOU are responsible for maintenance of the system, and checking monthly to determine if it is functioning. In most crawlspaces, accessibility to the pump is difficult. At the least, entering crawlspaces is not a pleasant task. Once a sump pump system is installed, though, it will be your responsibility to maintain it. Or the installing company will check it monthly for a fee. Failure of the pump due to lack of proper maintenance typically voids any warranties issued.

8) The upside of these systems is they are usually less expensive than actual corrections to the problem(s). Also, as we stated earlier, there are times when one will have to employ such systems due to the terrain around the home. Those are the only “pros” we can think of for these systems.

As a result of the above factors, GROUT TECH considers all available options for helping to cease or deter the water on the exterior of homes. Many options are available. On and directly adjacent the home you have exterior waterproofing and new drainage being installed (photos here). Away from the home you can simply improve the exterior drainage. Whatever option you choose, keep in mind that your primary goal should be to keep water from getting to your home. No matter what you choose to do to manage the water after it enters your basement or crawl space, and no matter what type of material is used to cover the ground or basement floor and walls so that you cannot see it, damage is still occurring to your home. The old adage, “Out of sight; out of mind,” completely applies in these situations because you don’t see the damage anymore, you naturally do not think it is occurring…until structural issues develop.