Efflorescence

Crawl Space Efflorescence
Efflorescence is a common crawl space problem all over the country

Efflorescence can be seen in both crawl space and crawl space environments. It’s a common problem with both concrete and masonry foundations. It’s relatively harmless, since it isn’t going to cause health problems for the inhabitants of a home, like mold or mildew. However, its presence indicates that there is moisture in this area of the home.

What Does it Look Like?

Efflorescence can be seen as a white, flaky, somewhat chalky-type substance on the walls of a crawl space or crawl space.

What Causes it to Form?

It is created whenever water seeps through a concrete or masonry-type wall. When the water evaporates, it leaves behind the white crystals that can be seen.

The following three conditions must be present for efflorescence to develop:

  1. There must be water-soluble salts somewhere on the crawl space wall.
  2. There will need to be adequate moisture in the wall to turn the salts into a soluble solution.
  3. There must be a way for the salts to move through the surface where the water can evaporate and deposit the salts which lead to the presence of the white, flaky substance on the wall.

How to Prevent Efflorescence

When it comes to preventing this substance from appearing on crawl space and crawl space walls, the best thing a homeowner can do is to prevent moisture from seeping inside to begin with.

The presence of this substance typically indicates that there is a leak somewhere letting outside water into the space below the home. Interior waterproofing systems can take care of moisture once it is inside, but the goal is to prevent it from getting inside in the first place.

This can be taken care of with the use of crawl space encapsulation. This will involve the use of vapor barriers on walls and floors, as well as drainage systems, sump pumps, and dehumidifiers to assist with humidity control.

How to Clean Efflorescence

While cleaning efflorescence from the walls is likely more important in a crawl space environment since the homeowner may have plans of finishing the area and using for extra living space, a homeowner may still be interested in cleaning it from the walls of the crawl space just to be sure it is removed once and for all.

There are chemical cleaners available for purchase which can be used to remove the substance. These cleaners will typically have muriatic acid in a special solution which can remove the white substance from the walls once other efforts have been made to prevent water seepage from getting inside in the first place.  Additionally, sandblasting the wall may be an option for interested homeowners.

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