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.


Authorized Installers of Smart Vent®

Authorized Installers of Smart Vent®


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

Installers of Smart VentWhat Makes Smart Vent® so Smart?

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

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

Advantages of Smart Vent®

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

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

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

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



5 Steps to a Happy & Healthy Crawl Space

5 Steps to a Happy & Healthy Crawl Space

crawl space repair birmingham

Many Alabama crawl spaces suffer from water intrusion and because of that, their home is introduced to mold, mildew, and other dangerous allergens. Since a majority of the air we breathe inside of our homes originates from our crawl space, it is important to keep it clean and healthy from the inside out. If your home is suffering from a wet and damaged crawl space, here are the steps you need to take to get it back to normal.

1. Seal it up

For many decades, building codes and conventional wisdom have prescribed ventilation with outside air as the primary method of moisture control in crawl spaces. However, ventilation with outside air only makes moisture problems worse. Cold or humidity from the outside will create a wet environment in your crawlspace, promoting mold and moisture. The first step in repairing your Alabama crawl space is to seal off all vents and doors that lead outside.

2. Eliminate the source

Does your crawl space consistently flood when it rains? If so, you will need to install a drainage system before moving forward. It is important to get rid of direct water sources to keep your crawlspace clean and dry and finish the repair process. Nichols/Grout Tech can install a sump pump and sump pit or a french drain tile system in your home to direct water away from your crawl space.

If you have water seeping through your foundation walls below the grade, we can install a polymer membrane coating and dimple board. This will stop soil moisture from coming in through the base of your foundation, and it will also work to direct any incoming water into your drainage system, whether that be a French Drain or sump pump.

3. Repair the damage

Crawl spaces that have been damaged by water will grow weak over time, and experience wood rot, sagging beams, and weak floor joists. We have certified installers that can repair your crawl space structure with crawl space jacks and other support systems. These steel piers will keep your crawl space strong for years to come.

4. Install a vapor barrier

crawl space repair montgomery, al

Nichols/Grout Tech offers crawl space vapor barriers to prevent soil moisture from entering your home. These barriers are made of puncture resistant 10-20 mil thick high tensile material. By installing the vapor barrier on the ground and up foundation walls, you will create a permanent vapor barrier against moisture, creating a healthier home environment. Our crawl space encapsulation services will transform your crawl space into a clean and usable storage space.

5. Purchase a dehumidifier

To ensure that your crawlspace remains dry for years to come, consider purchasing an energy efficient crawl space dehumidifier. These systems will get rid of debris from the air and keep your crawl space clear of mildew, mold, and dirt mites.

Certified Crawl Space Repair Specialist in Birmingham, ALcrawl space repair alabama

Call Nichols/Grout Tech for an estimate on crawl space repair today. We can take your damaged crawl space and completely transform it into a clean and healthy storage space for years to come.

We offer inspections to our customers in Alabama and surrounding states including Mississippi, Tennessee, Southwest Georgia, and the Florida Panhandle.

How Does The Weather Affect My Alabama Foundation?

Spring Showers: How They Affect Your Alabama Foundation

With spring just around the corner, Alabama is about to experience a season of rainfall. Here in the south, we’ve already seen our fair share of bad weather this winter. Now, as the snow melts and the rain falls, Alabama homeowners must be aware of foundation issues that may occur.

When the soil around your home is over saturated by heavy rain or melted snow, it will expand and push against your foundation walls. This can cause your foundation to become uneven over time, and cause cracks as well. After the winter, it is likely that your foundation has formed small cracks due to high pressures from ice and frost.

This spring, be on the lookout for the beginning signs of foundation damage and contact a professional as soon as you notice them. Foundation failure can cost tens of thousands of dollars to repair, so it’s important to have your foundation inspected and repaired before the damage gets dangerous – both for your home and for your wallet. When inspecting your home, look for the following signs:foundation repair hoover alabama

  • Wall cracks
  • Sloping floors
  • Misaligned trim
  • Windows that stick
  • Doors that won’t shut
  • Foundation crumbling
  • Cracked ceilings
  • Dark stains

Also, be sure to check your basement for flooding. If you have noticed water stains, musty odors, peeling paint, or rust in your basement, it is most likely the result of water seepage. If water is seeping into your basement, you definitely have a foundation problem.

Foundation Repair Solutions in Birmingham, Alabama

The most important thing you can do to keep your foundation safe and healthy is to prevent water from reaching your home. The first thing you can do to achieve this is to have your gutters regularly cleaned out. If your gutters are full of leaves, branches, and debris, water will collect and overflow straight onto your Alabama foundation. It is also important to extend your downspouts to be at least 10 feet away from your home, so that water is efficiently directed away from your foundation. Do this with your sump pump drains as well.

Here at Nichol’s/Grout Tech, we have many years of experience when it comes to foundation repair. No matter what issues you are experiencing, we can give you the best solution for your specific needs and budget. We can use helical piers to permanently stabilize your Alabama foundation and reverse the damage that has been done. Give us a call today for your free quote!

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!

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!


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!

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!