What's All This White Stuff on My Basement Walls?
Tuesday, October 16, 2012 • 11:57am
This white powder is a residue left from water called efflorescence. It indicates that water has evaporated from the concrete. Efflorescence is proof that water was in the basement.
Many of us have come across this strange phenomenon; a white powdery substance comes out of the concrete foundation. It can be on the walls or on the floor. On the floor it can look like it is growing up out of the floor, appearing as a small fluffy stalagmite one might expect to find in a cave rather than in their basement.
What is the definition of Efflorescence?
Efflorescence is defined as: “the changing of certain crystalline compounds to a whitish powder or powdery crust through loss of their water of crystallization”. Two conditions must be present to create efflorescence:
1. A source of water soluble salts.
2. Water moving through the concrete to carry the minerals to the surface. The water evaporates and leaves the white powder behind.
This white powder is a residue left from water. It indicates that water has evaporated from the concrete. Efflorescence is proof that water was in the basement.
What causes Efflorescence?
· There are many minerals and salts in the earth. Many of these minerals and salts are water-soluble; meaning they are capable of being dissolved in water.
· As the water percolates through the earth these water soluble minerals and salts dissolve into the water.
· When the high water table raises around your house the water then absorbs into your porous concrete foundation.
· The water then passes through your foundation in the form of capillary action bringing the minerals and salts along for the ride.
· When the water changes into vapor (evaporates) the minerals and salts are left behind in the form of efflorescence
Is efflorescence mold?
People sometimes become worried that efflorescence is a mold growth. It is not organic in nature like a mold or fungus, but is rather a mineral deposit. However, since efflorescence is indicative of the past presence of moisture, the potential for mold growth is increased. You can’t have mold without moisture and we now know that moisture was present. By removing the moisture the likelihood of mold growth decreases.
You can use dehumidifiers in the immediate area of the moisture and a fan blowing directly on the wall or floor to help dry it out. A whole house ventilation system such as the E-Z Breathe Ventilation System will help keep the humidity in the basement under control year round.
When it comes to removing humidity and water vapor you need a ventilation system that works year round. The E-Z Breathe Ventilation System is a better than a dehumidifier because it works 12 months a year and not just in the warmest months. This whole house ventilation system is a device that expels the dampest, most humid & contaminated air from your basement to the outside.
Is a wet basement a sign of a poorly built home? Not necessarily. The occasional dampness in a home is sometimes a minor problem that you, the homeowner, can solve yourself. However, foundation leakage can be very serious. Of course, the key is to know the difference.
Knowledge is power.
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Doug Lynch is a basement expert from Westfield, NJ where he lives with his wife Kelli and their dogs Sammy and Angie. Doug teaches a class at Westfield Adult School “Keeping Your Basement Dry” and is the Author of Basements 101 Everything You Need to Know About Your Basement. Doug has testified in NJ Superior Court as an Expert Witness in Basement Waterproofing and does seminars for local Real Estate Agents to educate them about basements. Doug is the owner of A-1 Basement Solutions in Scotch Plains and authors the popular BASEMENT SCHOOL Blog.
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