It is often pretty easy to spot a problem at the foundation walls of a basement because it is usually at the line of sight. As long as the walls are visibly accessible, dampness or signs of damage can be easy to identify. One of the most common indicators of a moisture problem is the presence of a white, powdery substance on the foundation walls called efflorescence.
What Is The White, Powder Substance Developing On My Foundation Walls?
Efflorescence is the migration of a salt to the surface of a porous material, leaving behind a coating. It commonly occurs on foundation walls and can sometimes appear on basement floors. Efflorescence presents as a white, powdery substance that is often mistaken for mold. While it has similar characteristics to mold, it is not mold. Efflorescence is the salt and mineral deposits left behind when water evaporates. Water is made up of salt and various minerals. When water seeps through the pores of your foundation walls and evaporates, the salt and minerals stay behind as a crystalline deposit. If efflorescence is occurring at the foundation walls of the a crawl space or basement, it means there is an underlying water seepage problem that needs to be addressed. Unaddressed water seepage over time can cause serious problems like mold growth, water damage and deterioration of foundation walls.
What Causes Efflorescence On My Basement & Crawl Space Walls?
Whether it is basement efflorescence or crawl space efflorescence, it is often the result of some sort of water intrusion (usually seepage through the foundation walls). Water carries water soluble salts and minerals. When the water on your foundation walls evaporate, it will leave behind salt deposits that crystallize into a white powdery substance. In addition to moisture intrusion, efflorescence only occurs under specific conditions:
- There must be water-soluble salts present within the wall,
- There must be sufficient moisture within the wall to dissolve the the salt into a soluble solution,
- And there must be a path for the soluble salts to migrate through to the surface where the moisture can evaporate and leave behind the salt crystals.
Identifying the exact source of the moisture intrusion can be difficult. Some of the more common causes includes:
- Ground Water Saturation– Capillary action can draw water from wet soil into masonry materials walls.
- Vapor Drive– Vapors will naturally move from the warmer side of a barrier to the cooler side. For example, when the sun hits a water saturated wall, it drives the moisture inward. Water vapors can settle on your foundation walls and leave behind efflorescence.
- Rain Water– Whether it is a leak or seepage, excess moisture during periods of rain increases the risk of water intrusion through your foundation walls.
- Sprinklers / Artificial Water Sources– When sprinklers saturate an exterior wall, water can enter the wall and later retreat, carrying salts to the surface.
Efflorescence, Moisture & Mold Growth
South Jersey homeowners should conduct routine basement and crawl space maintenance checks. When it comes to mold and moisture, early detection can go a long way in preventing additional damage and avoiding an expensive repair bill. Basement maintenance checks and crawl space maintenance checks should include a visual check of your foundation walls. Always look for efflorescence, signs of damage, leaks or other issues. While efflorescence is not mold and is not a major problem, it is evidence of a moisture problem and should not be ignored. Its presence means underlying moisture intrusion that needs to be properly addressed before it leads to water damage, structural deterioration and indoor mold growth. If you see efflorescence at your foundations walls, you should assess for water intrusion, dampness, mold and other moisture-related problems.
Tip: Moisture problems like seepage, flooding or other foundation related issues are often visibly apparent, and we tend to look at the damp walls for mold, which is a good start. However, as the water evaporates, the vapors rise and cling to the floor joists and sub floor. As more vapors soak into the joists and sub floor over time, mold begins to develop and spread. So, the next time you check your basement or crawl space — be sure to take a quick glance up.
With an sufficient water source, mold can develop and spread within a day or two. Elevated moisture at the foundation walls of your basement or crawl space can cause and support fungal activity. Mold requires active removal under proper containment with the proper equipment and personal protective equipment. The moisture source needs to be properly repaired in order to prevent future regrowth. If efflorescence at your foundation walls has worried about possible mold growth in our New Jersey basement or crawl space, contact a professional mold inspector in South Jersey to conduct a mold inspection.
Basement Mold Remediation & Crawl Space Mold Removal in South Jersey
If moisture issues at your foundation walls has left you with mold growth in your South Jersey basement or crawl space, do not panic. A certified New Jersey crawl space mold removal company can safely and effectively remove the mold and provide the needed insight regarding the underlying moisture problem that caused the efflorescence and mold in the first place. MasterTech’s expert South Jersey basement mold remediation technicians are thoroughly trained to properly handle your basement mold remediation or crawl space mold remediation. When it comes to basement mold or crawl space mold, it needs to be addressed promptly and properly to avoid compromising you and your family’s health and safety.