Brick and Foundation Efflorescence

When water vapor in the air comes into contact with a cool surface like a concrete wall or a brick, it condenses and forms water droplets. If there is salt present on the surface, the water will dissolve the salt and carry it to the surface, where it can form a white, powdery deposit known as efflorescence.

While efflorescence is harmless, it can be unsightly, and it can also lead to other problems like staining or spalling if it is not removed. One way to remove efflorescence is to simply brush it off with a soft-bristled brush. For tougher deposits, you may need to use a cleaner specifically designed for efflorescence removal. In either case, it is important to make sure that all of the efflorescence is removed before applying any sealant or waterproofing product, as these products will not adhere properly to surfaces with efflorescence present.

What is Efflorescence?

Have you ever noticed a powdery, white substance on the surface of your brick or foundation? If so, you may be dealing with efflorescence. Efflorescence occurs when water seeps into porous materials like bricks or concrete and dissolves mineral salts. As the water evaporates, it leaves behind a deposit of salt crystals. While efflorescence is not harmful to your home, it can be unsightly and difficult to remove.

What Causes Efflorescence?

Many bricks, stone, and concrete contain water soluble salts. When water flows through the brick, stone, or concrete, it carries the salt to the surface. Once the water evaporates, it leaves a deposit on the surface which appears in the form of white marks on the bricks. 

Is Efflorescence In Concrete, Bricks, or Stone Dangerous?

Obviously the appearance of the efflorescence is not visually appealing, but the salt on the surface in and of itself is not dangerous. It can, however, be the sign of a more serious problem. If there is a lot of water flowing through these supporting materials in the home, it can indicate a drainage problem which can lead to foundation issues.

If you notice efflorescence in your crawlspace or basement, it may be time to contact one of our expert foundation specialists. An inspection by a foundation expert can help you identify if there is a problem and what the best course of action may be to protect your home.


How to Remove Efflorescence

While efflorescence itself is not harmful, it can be unsightly and difficult to remove. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps you can take to get rid of efflorescence for good.

  1. To start, gently brush away any loose powder with a soft-bristled brush.
  2. Next, mix up a solution of one part vinegar to ten parts water, and apply it to the affected area using a sponge or spray bottle.
  3. Allow the solution to sit for about 30 minutes, then rinse it away with clean water. For stubborn stains, you may need to repeat this process several times.
  4. Once the efflorescence is gone, be sure to seal the masonry surface with a waterproof sealer to help prevent it from returning in the future.

With a little effort, you can keep your brick, stone, and other masonry surfaces looking clean and new for years to come.

Professional Efflorescence Removal

Efflorescence can be unsightly and difficult to remove on your own, so it's important to know when to call a professional. If the efflorescence is confined to a small area, it's usually possible to remove it with a stiff brush or acid-based cleaner. However, if the efflorescence is widespread or appears on porous surfaces such as concrete or brick, it's best to call a professional. A professional will have the experience and equipment necessary to safely and effectively remove efflorescence without causing further damage.