You may not have come across the term, but it is highly likely that you’ve come across it physically. If you’ve spotted a white powdery substance on your basement walls or floor, you have likely come across efflorescence.
This powdery substance often appears on foundation walls or floors that are made of concrete or masonry block. It has a similar appearance to white mold and sometimes occurs together with the mold.
Many homeowners ignore this white powdery substance, but end up with even worse problems.
Why You Should Be Concerned
Efflorescence is much more than a stubborn white powdery substance that ruins the appearance of basement walls and floors. It consists of salts that have been leached out of the concrete blocks or bricks of the walls or floors as water moves through the porous material. Water dissolves mineral salts from the block and travels with it to the surface of the wall or floor. When the water evaporates into the air, mineral deposits are left behind which form small crystals. This gives the appearance of a white powdery substance.
The white powder is therefore indication of a water seepage problem. This problem should be addressed while it is still manageable. Ignoring it will only result in even more problems that are likely to be expensive to address.
While it is good to know that the white powder is not mold, it shouldn’t be written off as safe. In many cases, efflorescence can coexist with mold. It can therefore be dangerous to try and clean the powdery substance without the right protective equipment. It is also a health hazard to ignore the substance and allow it to continue thriving in your basement.
Taking Care of the White Substance
The good news for homeowners is that the white powdery substance is easy to get rid of. You often don’t require any special solutions. A hard wire brush is usually enough to get rid of the substance. It is however, important to be cautious when handling the substance. This is because it can coexist with mold. Disturbing the substance could therefore release mold spores into the air and spread an infestation.
The bad news is that the occurrence of the powdery substance is an indication of a water seepage problem that needs to be addressed. Ignoring this problem can result in degradation of the walls as well as other problems that are costly to repair.
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