Skip to Main Content

What is Efflorescence?

Efflorescence refers to crystalline salt deposits often appearing on building surfaces or masonry materials. Efflorescence is made up of salts left over when water evaporates from porous construction materials.

The salts that form appear as a white or greyish tint residue on floors and walls. Efflorescence can be indicative of a cosmetic problem or an internal structural weakness. Regardless of the cause, this unsightly deposit can be frustrating for building owners and contractors alike, as it often appears without warning and can be difficult to remove.

Types of Efflorescence

There are different types of efflorescence: primary, secondary, and insoluble.

  1. Primary efflorescence occurs during cementitious materials like concrete and mortar curing. Water-soluble salts are drawn to the surface as the material dries and reacts with carbon dioxide in the air. This type of efflorescence typically occurs within the first few weeks after installation.
  2. Secondary efflorescence occurs after the material has been in service for some time. It is often caused by the introduction of water from external sources like rain, irrigation, or plumbing leaks. The water dissolves salts within the material, which then migrate to the surface and form efflorescence.
  3. Insoluble efflorescence is caused by the deposition of insoluble particles on the surface of the material. This type of efflorescence is often seen on brick and natural stone surfaces. It can be caused by factors such as poor installation practices or using contaminated building materials.

Understanding the type of efflorescence is important for developing an effective plan for removal and prevention.

What Causes Efflorescence?

Efflorescence is caused by the migration of soluble salts within porous building materials to the surface where they react with water and air to form a white, powdery deposit. There are several factors that can contribute to the occurrence of efflorescence, including:

  1. Moisture: Water is essential for the formation of efflorescence. When building materials are exposed to moisture, it dissolves the salts within the material and carries them to the surface where they can react with air and form efflorescence.
  2. Poor drainage: If the building site is not properly graded or the drainage system is inadequate, it can lead to the accumulation of water in the soil or within the building materials, leading to efflorescence.
  3. Use of low-quality building materials: If the building materials contain high levels of soluble salts, they are more likely to experience efflorescence.
  4. Improper curing of concrete: When concrete is not properly cured, it can trap moisture within the material, leading to the formation of efflorescence.
  5. Climate: High humidity, frequent rainfall, and temperature changes can all contribute to the occurrence of efflorescence.

How to Do You Fix Efflorescence

The first step in fixing efflorescence is to identify the source of the water infiltration. It’s always best to consult a foundation specialist to determine the true cause of efflorescence before attempting any removal methods. Once the source of the water has been identified and fixed, the efflorescence can be removed using a variety of methods, including pressure washing, acid washing, or dry brushing. After the efflorescence has been removed, it is essential to apply a sealant to the masonry to prevent future water infiltration and salt buildup.

How to Prevent Efflorescence

The best way to deal with efflorescence is to prevent it from occurring in the first place, and this requires the intervention of a basement waterproofing professional. That said, here are a few measures you can implement to prevent efflorescence.

  • Architectural adjustments like overhangs and a gutter system can prevent water from entering the foundation.
  • Landscaping adjustments like grading the yard away from the foundation and directing your sprinkler system away from walls can also help.
  • Installing a vapor barrier in the crawl space or basement can prevent moisture and salt absorption.
  • Waterproofing professionals use grout admixtures to prevent the absorption of salts.

Why Choose Groundworks to Handle the Root Cause of Efflorescence?

At Groundworks, we understand the importance of identifying and fixing efflorescence problems quickly and effectively. Our team of experts has years of experience dealing with efflorescence and its causes. We use the latest technology and techniques to identify the root cause of the problem and develop a customized solution for each homeowner. Our goal is to ensure that your home is safe, secure, and free from the damaging effects of efflorescence. Trust Groundworks for all your waterproofing needs.

While a normal by-product of masonry construction, efflorescence can be an indication of water intrusion. If you notice any flaky deposits, contact a waterproofing expert to get to the root of the problem and implement trusted basement or crawl space solutions.