Efflorescence – A white, salty, crystalline deposit known as efflorescence can appear on masonry walls. Whilst it doesn’t affect a building structurally, it does have an impact on its appearance. There are a number of reasons for its cause.

You may have noticed some odd discoloration on your foundation’s concrete walls or an odd white stain on the brick. Some white powdery stuff that seems to be growing or changing on the wall over time. You may be feeling alarmed and worried that it’s some sort of mold, that it may be releasing potentially hazardous spores in your basement or crawlspace. Fortunately, it’s not mold, nor is it anything toxic—it’s quite harmless and can even disappear on its own. But it can be an indication of something else going on with the concrete of your foundation walls. What you’re seeing there on your wall is called “efflorescence”. When you spot it, it is important to know what is causing your case of concrete efflorescence to discover whether your foundation is perfectly fine, or if there’s an underlying issue that needs to be addressed.

Let’s take a deeper look into what efflorescence is, how it appears, and what measures you can take to get rid of it!

What is Efflorescence?

Efflorescence is actually made up of salts deposits, both from natural salts in the concrete materials as well as from salt-forming chemicals that may exist within the concrete. As water travels through the porous structure of the concrete, it draws those salts along with it until it reaches the surface of your basement or crawlspace wall. The appearance of the salty deposits can look either crystalline or powdery. What prompts their appearance is the presence of water, but there are a couple ways that this interaction with water can create concrete efflorescence…

  • Primary Efflorescence
    • Water is required in order to create the concrete mix that we’re familiar with. But when too much water is added that excess moisture needs to find a way out. That escaping moisture makes it to the surface, and with it the salt.
  • Secondary Efflorescence
    • Another way that efflorescence can appear is when there is seepage occurring in your foundation. Most commonly, this occurs when there are cracks in your foundation, creating avenues for water to leak through. As water seeps through your foundation wall, that water will carry with it the salt and leave deposits as it evaporates on your foundation wall.

Depending on the type of efflorescence you have happening, that will determine what course of action you’ll need to take. It could simply be the byproduct of when your foundation was first constructed. Or it could be the indication of something else happening to your foundation that requires repairs.

Here are some additional ways that efflorescence may occur, particularly when masonry has been installed improperly. These may or may not apply to you, but they’re useful to keep in mind…

  • Failure to provide proper ventilation for the concrete or masonry
  • Masonry was installed without proper protection against moisture
  • Joint materials are failing
  • Masonry materials were improperly stored

Getting Rid of Efflorescence

If your foundation wall is experiencing primary efflorescence, a nice surface cleaning should do the job of removing the unsightly appearance. Here are some ways that you can accomplish this:

  • Pressurized Water
  • Diluted Vinegar
  • Brushing

If you’re intending to use a sealant to try preventing water from traveling into your foundation concrete, you may want to consider an efflorescence cleaner to help ensure that the salt deposits have been thoroughly removed before applying that sealant.

If secondary efflorescence should be the case, then the source of the seepage must be resolved. The best way to fix a seepage problem is to consult with an expert with a great deal of experience in waterproofing lower levels and foundation repair. While you could try sealing the seepage crack on your own, water might still push its way through and cause further cracks or potentially spalling. To avoid additional damage to your foundation wall, let the experts at ’58 Foundations help!

Over 60 Years of Foundation Repair and Waterproofing Expertise

Since 1958, ’58 Foundations has been helping people like you keep their lower levels free of groundwater intrusion while ensuring that their foundations remain strong and stable for years and years. We’ve spent the past 60 years developing our effective and long-lasting waterproofing system. With our quality products and honest methods, we offer waterproofing and foundation repair solutions that are designed to last, providing you with a safe and dry home as well as a greater peace of mind. We’ll put a stop to any water seepage your foundation may be experiencing, keeping your basement or crawlspace dry for many years to come. Contact us today for a free foundation repair estimate and a detailed estimate—you’ll find none can beat our long-historied expertise!