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Making Sense of Efflorescence On Your Basement Walls

Aka, That White Stuff That Won’t Leave My Walls

Homes do the darndest things. How many times have you searched online for an answer because you didn’t know what else to do? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone!

Whether it’s troubleshooting a problem with the air conditioner or searching for basement waterproofing solutions in Union County, NJ, we’re constantly reacting to things that happen in our homes.    

If you own a basement in New Jersey, one thing that might have you stumped is that white, powdery substance on your basement walls. A quick search will tell you the fancy name for it: efflorescence. But what on Earth is efflorescence and more importantly, how do you get rid of it?

Where There’s Efflorescence, There’s Water

At first, many people think that efflorescence is mold. In reality, it’s mineral deposits that are left behind once water evaporates.

When the soil surrounding your foundation is oversaturated, water begins to push toward your foundation. This fluid pressure that’s working against your home is called hydrostatic pressure. As the water moves toward your home, it collects minerals that are present in the soil and in your basement walls. The water will then penetrate your home through an entry point, whether it be through the wall joint, cracks in your basement walls or gaps in the concrete. As the moisture leaks into your basement, the water evaporates and leaves behind those minerals that were in the water.

So, what’s the takeaway? If you see efflorescence on your basement walls, then you have a moisture problem in your home. It’s ironic to think that a dry, powdery substance indicates a water problem. But that’s exactly what it means.

Don’t Settle for the Quick Fix

Even though efflorescence isn’t mold, it has similar lingering effects. If you were to discover mold on your ceilings and walls, you’d pay a professional to deep clean your home and use an air scrubber. While this will temporarily reduce the amount of mold spores, it isn’t a permanent solution. The mold is still in your walls, and it’s only a matter of time before it grows back.

The same idea applies to efflorescence. Scrubbing your walls to remove the minerals might restore your home’s aesthetic—but it does nothing to protect its structure.

Think about a luxurious sports car. On the exterior, it has all the detailing and features you could ever want. But if you open the hood and discover faulty parts or mechanical issues, the car is all show and no go. You need to have the same mindset with your home. It’s great to have a nice aesthetic and keep everything clean on the surface. But if you ignore what’s beneath the surface, it can catch up with you later.

Long-term moisture in your home can lead to a number of issues, including:

  • Mold growth
  • Structural damage
  • Poor indoor air quality
  • Concrete spalling (flaking concrete)

What Else Do I Need to Know?

Here are a few other things to keep in mind with efflorescence:

  • If your home was recently built, efflorescence might not indicate a serious moisture problem. Concrete often contains more water than it should and when the concrete cures, water will evaporate and efflorescence will form. But once the concrete has cured, efflorescence won’t be an issue as long as there isn’t a separate moisture problem in your home.
  • Trying to paint over efflorescence or using sealants is not the answer. In fact, it can actually make the situation worse for the long term. The most reliable and effective way to eliminate efflorescence once and for all is by having a professional waterproofing company remove the moisture in your walls.
  • If you’re in the planning stages of constructing a new home, make sure your home is built using quality materials and equipment. Materials that are low in salt and clean equipment are less likely to transfer salt and contaminants into your home.

Waterproofing Goes Straight to the Source

It can be tempting to opt for the band-aid solution when it comes to your basement. But it’s important to remember that water is a force to reckon with. When ignored, it can do real damage to your home and cost you a lot more than professional waterproofing would.

At Blue Umbrella, we go straight to the source to eliminate efflorescence and moisture in your home. Specializing in French drain installations, we’ll redirect the water to a sump pump to reduce hydrostatic pressure and protect your home’s structural integrity. If your home is prone to high humidity, a dehumidifier can work wonders to control moisture levels and protect your furniture, improve your indoor air quality and more.

To remove efflorescence from your basement walls and protect your home’s structure, request a free estimate for your basement waterproofing cost in Bergen County, NJ, or elsewhere in our service area. To learn more about our services and what we can do for your home, contact us online or call Blue Umbrella Waterproofing at 908.432.8858 today.

Steve Karlik
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