What’s the White Stuff on My Basement Walls?

The white, chalky, powdery stuff on your basement walls is efflorescence. It isn’t toxic, but it could be a sign of water problems.

In French, the phrase means “to flower out,” and the white residue is known for its fluffy composition.

How does efflorescence form?

Efflorescence is the deposit of water-soluble salts left on masonry after water evaporates. It’s most commonly seen on any materials containing Portland cement.

Efflorescence in the cracks of a basement wall
A strong brush can remove the powder from your walls.

For the powdery deposits to be present, you need:

  • Water-soluble salts
  • Moisture to transform salts into a soluble solution
  • A material where salt can move through to the surface

After moisture evaporates, the remaining salts crystallize and become efflorescence. With a strong brush, the powder can be removed from your walls.

Because water and moisture are needed for it to form, the phenomena often is a seasonal problem. Humidity impacts whether soluble salts appear.

Homeowners might notice efflorescence is more pronounced in the winter, since snow, sleet, and rain add moisture to the atmosphere. However, your walls still can experience it in the spring, summer, and fall.

It's not mold

Some people confuse efflorescence with mold. However, the two are not the same. Efflorescence is primarily a visual/aesthetic problem, whereas mold can lead to health issues.

Efflorescence flowering out on a basement wall.
This is not mold. It's the deposit of water-soluble salts left on masonry after water evaporates.

There are several major differences between the two

  • Mold is a fungus. Efflorescence is salt deposits
  • Mold can grow on nearly any surface. Efflorescence doesn’t spread.
  • Mold is more commonly green, black or blue (or white in rare cases). Efflorescence is a powdery white/yellow color.

Could be a sign of water problems

White powder on your basement walls is a sign of moisture.

Though efflorescence isn’t mold, the presence of the white power is a sign of moisture in your basement.

Seeing white powdery patches on your wall can be an early sign that your foundation has water problems. The earlier you catch foundation or waterproofing issues, the better. 

The professionals at My Foundation Repairs are experts in waterproofing and basement foundation repairs

Call My Foundation Repairs today. We will connect you with a foundation repair contractor in your area and help you get your problems solved as quickly as possible!

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