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!


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.

Landscaping Drainage 101

Landscaping and Exterior Drainage for Your Birmingham, Alabama Home

Why You Have Water in Your Alabama Yard

Surface Drainage Birmingham, AlabamaBirmingham and all of Alabama have significantly higher average rainfall than the rest of the United States, so water buildup can be a prolific problem for Birmingham homeowners and something that many homeowners will experience at least one. A variety of factors and contribute to water buildup in yards, but a few of the most common include:

Heavy rainfall: When an area of land endures substantial rainfall, the ground becomes heavily saturated and is unable to absorb any more water. Because the water cannot be absorbed further, it collects and pools in the yard.

Septic System Failure: Septic systems are designed to collect liquid waste from inside the home and redirect it. When these systems fail, waste can back up into your home or backyard, depositing large quantities of standing water.

Sloping property: Homeowners with low lying properties often experience extended water buildup as water from nearby properties with higher elevation spills down into their yard.

Gutter Exits: If you notice water collecting near your downspout exits, it is likely because the ground is sloped toward your house as opposed to away from it.

Not only does water buildup in your Alabama yard make it unpleasant to walk on, but it can also cause serious problems for your home and foundation. As we discussed earlier, pooling water means that the soil has been fully saturated and cannot absorb additional moisture. Heavy saturation greatly increases the soil’s hydrostatic pressure, so the soil will begin to push against the floor of your foundation, allowing water to permeate inside. When water infiltrates the home, it often manifests itself in a musty odor, mold and mildew, rotting of wood structures, and even the destruction of the floor and drywall. If left undetected or untreated, you could be facing expensive and time consuming repairs.

Landscape Drainage and Other Exterior Drainage and Waterproofing Solutions for Your Birmingham, Alabama Home

yard drainage AlabamaFortunately, you can nip water problems in the bud and prevent further complications by enlisting the help of Grout Tech, the foundation repair and water management experts in the Birmingham, Alabama area. We can work with you to determine and execute the best course of action in addressing the problem of water buildup in your backyard.
A few of the most common and effective solutions:

Surface Drainage System: This includes properly placed gutters, grading around the house, and drain pipe systems surrounding the foundation and is used to prevent water from pooling around the foundation.

Interior Drainage System: This method is used to redirect water that has seeped inside the house to the outside. If you have a basement, we can install a reliable and high quality basin or battery backup sump pump and ensure that it is properly directing water away from your home into a location that will not cause buildup.

Full Waterproofing: Proper waterproofing necessitates excavation so that all potential issues can be exposed and addressed individually. We begin the process by cleaning the foundation walls and spraying or rolling on a polymer waterproofing product. After this has dried, the coating will be masked with a dimple board product to enable improved downward water flow. We will then install an appropriately sloped drain pipe system to eradicate any future problems with pooling water.

Proper waterproofing is an extensive process that will pay dividends with respect to the elimination of water buildup. If you are experiencing water buildup in your Birmingham, Alabama backyard, do not wait until your foundation becomes affected too. Be proactive and call the Alabama foundation repair and water management experts at Nichols/Grout Tech today!

Alabama Waterproofing Solutions

Waterproofing Solutions for Your Alabama Home

Don’t let a wet basement cause you to lose living space or personal possessions. A wet Waterproofing solutions in Alabama by Nichols/Grout Techbasement can promote the growth of mold and mildew which can cause health issues to you and your family.

Alabama has a shallow rock bed, high water table and clay soil. All of these factors contribute to water entering the basement through any opening it can find. This includes cracks in floors, walls and joints. The obvious sign that you are in need of basement or crawlspace waterproofing is standing water. However, there are other, not so obvious signs that you may be in need of waterproofing. Some of these are:

  • Condensation – damp walls, dripping pipes, rusty hardware
  • Humidity – excess humidity in the air
  • Seepage – dampness on walls or floors
  • Leaks – water trickling from a wall or floor
  • Subterranean water – a thin, barely noticeable layer of water on the basement floor

Don’t let a small water problem turn into an even larger problem. Let the professionals at Grout Tech inspect your home and offer you the best solution for your waterproofing needs.

Grout Tech offers surface drainage, interior drainage, exterior drainage and sump pump systems.

Surface drainage consists of a channel drains, conventional drains, catch basins, drain pipe and water discharge emitters. All of these surface drainage products will keep the water flowing away from the foundation.

Interior drainage consists of installing a perforated drainage pipe along the interior footing of the basement and then is connected to a sump pump system. By installing the drain pipe below the slab, it will drain the water to a lower level.

Exterior drainageExterior drainage system in Alabama by Nichols/Grout Tech systems consists of installing a drainage pipe along the exterior of the foundation. This pipe is connected to a sump pump system to keep the water from pooling around the foundation. Stopping the water from collecting around the exterior of the foundation will prevent the water from ever entering the basement.

Grout Tech installs sump pump systems that includes the sump pit and the pump itself along with battery back up sump pumps. The pumps Grout Tech installs has a high quality switch mechanism that won’t fail. We install dual switches to provide redundancy in the case of switch failure.

All of the waterproofing products we install are manufactured by Earth Contact Products (ECP), the leader in the manufacturing of waterproofing products in the industry. ECP waterproofing products will stand the test of time and last longer than builder’s grade waterproofing products.

 Alabama Waterproofing

If you live in Alabama, your basement may be in need of waterproofing. Nichols/Grout Tech has the solution for you. We have been in business since 1981. We serve the entire state of Alabama along with Southwest Georgia, Florida Panhandle, Mississippi and Tennessee. Among the cities that we service in Alabama include:

If you are in need of basement waterproofing in Alabama, don’t hesitate to contact the professionals at Nichols/Grout Tech. We have the experience and use only the best products available for waterproofing. You can be assured that after the waterproofing solution is installed, you won’t have to worry about water entering your basement again. Don’t hesitate, contact us today!



Spring Severe Weather Threatens Birmingham, AL Foundations

High Winds and Wet Weather can affect your Birmingham, Alabama Home

The severe storms that have occurred across the state of Alabama over the past month has had a big effect on many homes and businesses. The constant downpours and high winds can really take a toll on a home’s foundation. All this wet weather can mean big problems for your home. Heavy rains cause a large burden on your downspouts and gutters. Large amounts of water may splash over the sides of gutters and onto the ground directly next to your foundation, making basement flooding more likely. Downspouts can also become overrun with torrents of rain, releasing gallons of water into the soil outside your foundation.

With heavy rains, there is often too much water falling on the ground for the soil to soak it all up. This can lead to standing puddles of water in your yard and around your home’s outside walls. Eventually, that standing water will begin to soak through the soil and into any cracks or gaps your home might have. These cracks and gaps are usually caused by a shifting foundation and can allow unwanted water and pests into your home. The cracks can cause both your basement and your crawlspace to fill with water.

When a basement or crawlspace gets wet, the entire house is affected. Aside from the expected property damage and water stains, many problems stem from a wet basement or crawlspace, such as:

  • Weakened floorboards: High moisture content can affect the ceiling above it, weakening floorboards and possibly rotting the wood.
  • Mold growth: Mold thrives in dark, damp places like your crawlspace. The longer the water sits, the more likely mold growth is to occur. Mold is a hazardous substance that can cause rashes or breathing problems, especially in those with asthma or allergies. The longer a family is subjected to mold, the more severe the effects can be.
  • Worsened cracks: With water constantly eating away at cracks, the cracks will widen and the problem will get even worse.
  • Increased humidity throughout the home: The humidity levels in your home can easily change if there is a lot of excess moisture coming into the air through the basement or crawlspace. Increased humidity can make doors and windows stick, and it can make daily life very unpleasant.

Proper precautions must be taken to prevent water damage in your Alabama home or business. This is why Grout Tech offers basement waterproofing in Birmingham Alabama. Don’t let spring showers ruin your day or your home. Trust Grout Tech to waterproof your home.

Solutions for Wet Basements and Crawlspaces in Birmingham, AL

So what are the options for basement waterproofing in Birmingham? Is it even worth the investment? Grout Tech prides itself on quality customer service and fair pricing, so we offer a large variety of basement waterproofing options at a variety of prices, all designed to provide the best repairs for you and your home. You don’t have to wait until your home is flooded by spring showers. Preventative waterproofing options are also available, because you can never be sure when your basement may flood.

Grout Tech utilizes high quality ECP brand products in all basement waterproofing jobs. Our services include

  • Sump pump installation: The sump pumps used by Grout Tech have special float systems that tell the sump pump when to turn on and off. This means that you won’t waste electricity as you pump water out of your home. ECP sump pumps can pump up to 5,000 gallons of water per hour out of your home. Sump pumps are great to prevent flooding and come with a battery backup in case power is lost in the home.
  • Interior drainage system installation: These systems are buried beneath your slab and are used to control water in the home. Because they are hidden beneath concrete, it is important to have them installed correctly by a professional. Interior drainage systems remove excess water from beneath your foundation so the moisture does not make its way through the home.
  • Exterior drainage system installation: These systems pipe water from the home, either to the yard or to an installed sump pit. Exterior drainage systems are helpful when large amounts of water have previously entered your home, or your foundation walls were not correctly waterproofed upon construction.
  • Crawlspace encapsulation: Crawlspace encapsulation involves installing a vapor barrier on all the surfaces within your crawlspace. Vapor barriers provide a waterproof seal to prevent water or moisture from entering the area.
  • Crack injections: Crack injections, usually made of epoxy or polyurethane, are used to fill the cracks that may be allowing water in the home. This is often used in conjunction with vapor barriers or an exterior drainage system.

If you are in need of basement waterproofing in Birmingham, trust the professionals at Grout Tech to keep your home dry. Contact us today for more information. 


Landscape Drainage in Alabama

Grout Tech Offers Solutions for Landscape Drainage in Alabama Landscape Drainage Alabama

Many people take a lot of pride in their Alabama yards. Whether it be in Birmingham, at a historic old home surrounded by a beautiful yard, or a Montgomery home that is new construction, that has just had beautiful landscaping put in, keeping that yard looking beautiful can be a huge task. There is something that Grout Tech can do to help. We offer landscaping drainage, or exterior drainage as part of our basement waterproofing solutions for our service area, including all of Alabama, the Florida Panhandle, Southwest Georgia, Mississippi, and Tennessee.

Keep Your Yard Looking Great with Alabama Landscaping Drainage

Landscape Drainage Alabama

One thing you will find if you have new construction is that contractors will use “damp proofing” methods, which aren’t nearly as good as waterproofing. There is a big difference. One big thing Grout Tech can help you do is install a drainage system that can work in conjunction with sump pumps and interior drainage. We can install a drain pipe system that will ensure the flow of water will find the path of least resistance, out to the street, and away from your yard and your foundation. A wet foundation likely means a wet basement, and that is something you definitely do not want.

We can install proper drains, gutters, downspouts to keep rain runoff away from your yard and foundation as well. This is huge step in making sure your yard is protected from excess rain and water. We can also help you with rain collection. This is a huge deal. If you like to water your yard, but hate to pay extra for it, you can utilize collected rain water to keep your yard looking great. We can assist with a collection basin to collect rain water. This is just an extra landscaping drainage step that can really be a benefit to your Alabama home.

Landscape Drainage in Alabama

Rainwater needs to be carried through a solid drainpipe to a dry well. These used to be metal barrels, but they would rust out. Today we have recycled plastic dry wells that are easy to handle and work efficiently to resolve many drainage problems. We can also handle the sump pump drainage to make sure that it works into your landscaping drainage system so that there is no back up into the sump pump in your home. Most importantly, we will make sure your surface drainage is all setup properly. Without proper surface drainage the rest of your system isn’t going to do what it needs to do.

Every yard is completely different. It is as different as the landscaping is from one yard to the next. What we can do at Grout Tech is take stock of what challenges your yard and foundation might present, and come up with a landscaping drainage plan that fits your needs. If you want, we can also setup a complete basement waterproofing solution for your home. You won’t experience water in your basement or crawlspace, and with our exterior drainage and landscaping drainage, your yard will be beautiful too. So call the team at Grout Tech and let us help you protect your home and keep it looking beautiful!