Efflorescence: The White Stuff on Basement Walls

efflorescence on concrete wall

What Is Efflorescence

Have you ever noticed a white chalky substance on a basement wall and wondered what it was? It’s called efflorescence and it’s quite common in basements. A popular misconception is that it’s mold or something potentially dangerous to breathe, but in reality, it’s harmless.

Efflorescence is a salty residue leftover when water is present in concrete block, brick, stone and other common building surfaces. As you know, these materials are commonly used to form basement foundations.

In order for efflorescence to occur there are 3 key ingredients needed:

  • Salt
  • Moisture
  • Evaporation

Concrete block, brick and stone create the perfect environment for efflorescence to occur because they are permeable and allow for water and other particles to travel through them. 

Water, rain and snow push their way through a basement wall carrying salty minerals and the moisture eventually evaporates, leaving only salt deposits on the surface. This leftover substance is efflorescence.

example of efflorescence

Is Efflorescence harmful?

Efflorescence itself isn’t dangerous, but it is a sign water and moisture are present in your basement. It’s recommended to contact a waterproofing specialist to inspect your basement if efflorescence is present for this reason.

If your basement doesn’t have a proper waterproofing system in place, water will continue to find its way into your home and lead to bigger problems like increased moisture and humidity, foundation wall cracking and a greater likelihood of mold to grow on materials pushed up against your basement walls.

How to Remove Efflorescence

Although a bit tedious, it’s quite easy to remove efflorescence in the right conditions. 

Given that we now know moisture and evaporation must be present for efflorescence to form, it’s best to remove the white chalky substance in a dry environment. Water and vinegar are common liquid substances used to remove efflorescence, but the concrete surface must then be adequately dried to avoid the issue from reappearing.

You can also try using a dry brush to remove the residue and help prevent bringing additional salt minerals to the surface.

Interested in a Professional Inspection?

Our team at Wise Waterproofing would be happy to come take a look and assess your basement’s condition.  Contact Us today to schedule a free inspection. We serve the Greater Akron, Canton and Cleveland areas of NE Ohio.

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