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What is Efflorescence and Why is it a Problem?

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What is Efflorescence?

When inspecting a home for signs of water intrusion or moisture, there are a few signs to look for, one of which is efflorescence. It’s a big word, and it can be a sign of a big problem. If you see white or grayish deposits on your foundation walls or basement walls, you have efflorescence. So what exactly is it, and what does it mean if it shows up in your basement or crawl space?

In short, efflorescence is salt. When water penetrates masonry, concrete, or other porous building materials, it dissolves the soluble salts and carries them to the surface. As the water evaporates, those salts are left behind and react with carbon dioxide in the air to form crystals.

As you can probably guess, the problem is not with the salt, but the water. Efflorescence is often a sign of moisture problems in a home. Water intrusion from outside of the wall, either from poor drainage or from a clogged gutter system, is the most likely culprit, although high humidity and temperature swings can cause condensation which can also contribute to crawl space and basement efflorescence.

How Serious Is Crawl Space and Basement Efflorescence?

From the perspective of a foundation repair and waterproofing company, any moisture that enters a space where it should not be is a potentially serious issue. However, there are varying degrees of severity for efflorescence, and the color of the deposits is an indicator.

If the water intrusion is mild or relatively new, the efflorescence is typically white or grayish in color and has a powdery or fluffy texture. The fix can often be as simple as cleaning or redirecting gutters. Once the deposits start darkening, it is indicative of a more serious water problem. On walls that have had repeated or sustained contact with water, the efflorescence can be dark brown or even black.

While efflorescence is not harmful to the building material itself, the underlying cause can create damage in masonry walls, leading to foundation cracks, bowing, or even collapse. The presence of efflorescence often coincides with hydrostatic pressure, a condition in which the pressure from the water on the outside of a wall creates a tremendous force on the masonry and building materials, possibly exceeding the strength of the material. Waterproofing the area with an interior or exterior drainage system can prevent further water damage, and walls that are cracked or bowed can be repaired if the damage is caught in time.

Noticing Efflorescence On Your Walls? Request a Free Consultation

The waterproofing experts at HydroHelp911 are available for free inspections if you suspect you may have water damage or moisture issues. Catching the problem early can save you time and money in the long run, so it’s best to schedule an appointment if you have any concerns about efflorescence on your basement walls.

Contact our team today at 704-741-9737 to schedule a free consultation.

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