Is Efflorescence in a Basement a Problem?

If you’ve ever seen a white or greyish collection of sparkles on the surface of your basement wall, it’s natural for you to be concerned. This substance on your basement wall is known as efflorescence. Originally meaning “to flower out”, the French word helps explain the expansive pattern of this type of phenomenon. To help you understand the cause, risks, and treatments of efflorescence, Total Restore Inc. has created this in-depth guide to arm you with all the necessary information.



Where Does Efflorescence Occur?

The most common surfaces for efflorescence to flourish are on unsealed or untreated walls, floors, or other surfaces made up of brick, stone, concrete, or stucco. On your basement wall, this often appears as a white powdery substance that can occasionally sparkle under lighting. In terms of composition, efflorescence consists of a collection of water-soluble salts; it can appear in a variety of different colors depending on the type of surface it appears on. Basements, especially wet basements, are the perfect environment for efflorescence to appear.

How Does Efflorescence Happen and Is It Dangerous?

The two main components responsible for causing efflorescence are water and salt. The salt, able to be found in numerous areas, usually lies inside the materials of the wall, the grout or cement holding the wall materials together, or inside the soil which surrounds the retaining wall; it can even be present in hard water within the home’s plumbing. When the salt dissolves into water on the surface of your basement wall, it leaves behind efflorescence.

Next, you might be wondering if efflorescence is dangerous. In terms of causing damage to your health, efflorescence is not dangerous. However, it is important to recognize that the appearance of efflorescence indicates that you might have a moisture problem in your basement. Left untreated, this moisture can cause structural damage and major headaches in the future.

How to Remove and Prevent Efflorescence

Preventing Efflorescence

  • Hydrophobic Sealant – Using a hydrophobic sealant on building material surfaces can prevent the absorption of water. In turn, these sealants will prevent water from traveling within the material of the wall.
  • Capillary Breaks – The installation of capillary breaks between your basement walls and the soil outside can reduce the risk of salt entering the material. An example of this would be polyethylene sheeting.
  • Use Grout Admixtures – Using chemical additives designed to reduce water content within grout can be beneficial when trying to prevent efflorescence.
  • Apply Water Repellent Coating – Efflorescence cannot appear without water!

Removing Efflorescence

  • Pressurized Water – Using pressurized water is an excellent way to dissolve efflorescence. Just remember to dry the water off once finished, otherwise the efflorescence will return soon after.
  • Brushing – Taking a strong brush to the surface of the wall will suffice. This might require some elbow grease.
  • Diluted Vinegar – A harmless alternative to industrial cleaners, diluted white vinegar also is very effective at removing efflorescence.

The team at Total Restore Inc. is standing by to help you identify the cause of basement efflorescence and to develop a game-plan for preventing it in the future. Before your home becomes at risk for serious damage, contact Total Restore Inc. for a professional consultation today!