Identifying Efflorescence on Foundations, Masonry Walls or Chimneys

Efflorescence, or Mineral Deposits, indicates lots or moisture or water, which can turn into costly damage, mold contamination, or other poor conditions.

Efflorescence, White Fluffy Film, are Mineral Deposits on Building Walls

Efflorescence is a white fuzzy substance on your foundation walls or floor that forms due to moisture. Efflorescence can vary in appearance. It can look like white powder, white cotton, white mold or even tan, grey or have yellow variations.

Efflorescence is caused by the salt leftover from water penetrating into your basement. As water evaporates, it leaves behind minerals which can form crystals. This is a sure indicator that moisture was, or is, present in your basement.

Since concrete, mortar, and masonry all contain water-soluble salts, if water is present, it can dissolve these salts onto your basement floor and walls. This is why efflorescence always tells us that there is moisture or water in your basement. These salts would not appear otherwise.

Professional Tip: Efflorescence is not dangerous and can be wiped clean with a basic chemical cleaner. If you wipe clean the efflorescence from your basement walls and floors, then find that it returns at a later date, you know a moisture issue needs to be taken care of.

The location of These Deposits is Significant

  • Efflorescence high on the walls suggests that the problem originates outside, such as with roof runoff spilling by the foundation wall.
  • Take a look at the relation between the efflorescence marks and the height of soil against the wall and foundation or the in-slope grade around the building.

Homeowners should guard against water penetration and detect cracks in foundation walls or floors that can allow water to come into the interior surfaces of your basement.

Not only will this keep your basement dry, but it will also prevent efflorescence as well.

How Efflorescence Appears

Firstly, building materials must contain water-soluble salts. This is unavoidable, as most basements contain mortar, grout or concrete.

Second, moisture must be in the materials to carry the water and dissolve the salts. Keep in mind that concrete is a porous substance and can carry water easily if enough is present.

Third, water must be entering your basement from somewhere. Once it enters, it will eventually evaporate and leave behind the efflorescence that you see. This is the crucial clue for homeowners, who can act to ensure basements are sealed, dry and safe from water and moisture.

What to do when you find Efflorescence in your basement?

If you find it, you can wipe it up with a basic detergent cleaner. Once you have cleaned and dried the area, inspect your home for possible leaks. Check the basement walls for water stains, or for general dampness. Are there any cracks? Was there a heavy rainfall recently? Check your exterior downspouts to ensure they are not blocked and that water is not pooling against your foundation.

These are all important steps to keep your basement dry and your home free from excess moisture.

Efflorescence and Mold

Keep in mind that efflorescence is not mold and is not toxic for you to breathe in. It simply means that moisture is present in your basement and that these water issues can lead to mold if not taken care of. The important part: clean up any efflorescence, but be sure to inspect your home for further water issues or just call us for an inspection and evaluation.