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!





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

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.” ( 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!

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