Perhaps you are looking to finish a your basement and while examining the space, you notice a whitish bloom over your unsealed brick or concrete basement wall. It may appear as a light dusting of white over a small region of your basement wall or it could present itself as a thick, mold-like structure covering a good portion of your wall. By the end of this article, you will have all the knowledge you need to properly address the efflorescence in your basement. Read on to see if your basement needs an easy DIY fix or if it requires the attention of an experienced basement contractor.
What is Efflorescence?
Basement efflorescence is made up of mineral deposits left behind on your walls from evaporating moisture. Brick and concrete are porous and if not properly sealed, moisture from the outside can travel inward through the brick. Salts like calcium carbonate, or minerals used in the construction of brick and concrete, such as limestone and clay, are water-soluble and can dissolve into this creeping moisture. When this mineral-rich solution reaches the wall surface, the water evaporates leaving behind the minerals.
Consider Your Climate
If you live near an ocean, your soil is more saline. The chances are higher that you with have these mineral deposits present if your basement is not properly treated. It is also possible that rock salt – used heavily during the winter in slow-laden areas – can find its way through your basement walls. You should consider the region you live in to determine whether or not your basement is at risk.
Is it More Than Just an Eye-Sore?
As mentioned earlier, efflorescence is non-toxic. It cannot do your body harm. However, its presence is an indicator that your basement is susceptible to moisture. If left untreated, you could be opening up your basement to mold and structural damage.
Ask a Professional
You should consider contacting a basement contractor who is knowledgeable and experienced. They will be able to tell you if the efflorescence in your basement is not a cause for concern, or if it is an indicator that your basement’s moisture management system is deficient or non-existent.
How Do I Remove Efflorescence?
If the efflorescence build-up is not significant, then you should be able to remove the deposits with water, a detergent, and a good scrubbing. For external efflorescence, you can powerwash the build-up. However, you do not want to use only water because the water will evaporate and the deposits will remain.
If you have significant build-up, there are a variety of chemical treatments that range from non-toxic to highly acidic and dangerous. These can remove the more persistent and stubborn deposits, but please contact a professional to handle the dangerous chemicals, if they are needed for the job.
If your basement is prone to the build-up of efflorescence, you should definitely consider getting your basement sealed. This is especially necessary if you are planning to have your basement finished.
Do not pay for a renovation without properly sealing off your basement from the outside elements! You are putting your investment and property at risk. There are different types of effective sealers you can use depending on your budget.
This is the preferred sealer for concrete walls. This type of sealer is more effective than the cheaper acrylic sealers. If you are serious about sealing your basement you should not use the acrylic sealers.
Unlike epoxy and acrylic sealers, which form a moisture-resistant barrier on the surface of the wall, penetrating sealers fill up the porous holes. These sealers are the most effective, but they are also the more expensive option.
You now have the knowledge and know-how to address the efflorescence in your basement. Please remember to consult a professional with any concerns you may have before you begin finishing your basement. Not doing so can result in a waste of time and money!
Best of luck in all your basement finishing endeavors!
Jennifer Bell is a freelance writer, blogger, dog-enthusiast, and avid beachgoer operating out of Southern New Jersey. She writes for Dry Basement Solutions.