Efflorescence is a common occurrence on walls that can send shivers down the spine of property owners, as not everyone knows its causes and if it can be removed.
While efflorescence might be scary, the good news is that you can remove it yourself and prevent future occurrences.
What Is Efflorescence?
Efflorescence is the white powdery substance formed on the wall surface due to water seeping into the exterior wall.
When water enters a wall and later evaporates, it leaves various soluble salts on the surface, disfiguring the wall.
Efflorescence occurs on different building surfaces, such as bricks and concrete. Efflorescence can also occur on stones in a building when water pools on them but evaporates, leaving soluble salts on the surface.
Causes of Efflorescence
Different causes play culprit to efflorescence, determining the intensity and frequency of the efflorescence. However, efflorescence on walls requires three conditions to occur:
- The material contains water-soluble salt
- Moisture penetrates or pools on the brick to dissolve the salt and form a solution
- The moisture later evaporates to leave a dry soluble salt on the surface, resulting in white spots.
Moisture on or in the brick can be from rain, snow, or other water sources, which influence the intensity of the efflorescence. The interior activities in the building can also cause moisture in the brick.
It is worth noting that efflorescence is categorized into primary and secondary efflorescence. While secondary efflorescence occurs due to outside moisture, primary efflorescence results from excess water during masonry construction.
When the construction process contains excess water, the water evaporates and brings out soluble salts to the surface. Primary efflorescence usually occurs within the first 72 hours after the construction completion.
In many instances, primary efflorescence occurs when the masonry units are left outside for a long time during construction, resulting in the units soaking in moisture from rain or damp soil.
Hence, it is best to cover masonry units to protect them from moisture sources to reduce the risk of efflorescence during construction.
Though efflorescence can occur at any season, it is more common in winter due to high rain and snow frequency. Since winter is known for inclement weather conditions, you are more likely to deal with efflorescence in winter than summer, spring, or fall.
Efflorescence or Stains
It might be difficult to differentiate efflorescence from stains since stains can also take the form and color of efflorescence. Hence, you want to differentiate efflorescence from stains.
Though stains can look similar to efflorescence, efflorescence on drywall is usually a white, powdery substance found on unsealed surfaces.
The best way to differentiate between stains and efflorescence on a surface is to subject an unaffected portion of the surface to a water pool, give the water time to evaporate and compare it to the affected surface.
If the sample surface gives white marks similar to the affect portion, you are dealing with efflorescence.
Since this might be a long one and take time, you might want to check if moisture has recently soaked into the wall. Remember, efflorescence cannot occur without moisture penetration.
How to Remove Efflorescence
When efflorescence occurs, the next thing you want to know is how to remove it. The good news about efflorescence is that it can go on its own after some time due to normal weathering. However, since it is stealing from your building’s look, you want it to disappear as soon as possible, hence a need for removal.
Fortunately, removing efflorescence is not a difficult task. With the right guide, you can easily clean the white power on your wall. Here are a few ways to remove the white stain on brick.
The cheapest means to remove efflorescence is by washing with pressurized water, which helps dissolve the salt to wash away.
The only setback is that you must dry the water after application. Leaving water to remain on the surface after washing can bring out more salt from the materials, causing efflorescence to reappear.
Since you are likely to have vinegar in your kitchen, diluted vinegar is another cheap means to remove efflorescence. Besides being a more cost-effective option than industrial chemicals, it is also less harmful.
Since efflorescence is a soluble salt, it is easy to remove it by sweeping it away with a brush. Cleaning with a brush is even considered the best practice as it doesn’t bring out extra salt from the brick, unlike water and solutions. With this, even when you use a solution, you might still need to dry clean with a brush once the wall is dry.
How to Prevent Efflorescence
Since moisture entering the wall is the principal cause of efflorescence, stopping water from entering the surface or material is the best way to prevent future occurrence.
Here are a few ways to prevent efflorescence on painted walls and unpainted walls.
Coating the walls is the best way to prevent efflorescence on brick and walls. Investing in a brick sealer will help keep water away from entering the wall, ultimately preventing the risk of efflorescence.
Our masonry crème is an excellent waterproof paint to consider for efflorescence prevention on painted walls.
Properla masonry crème will create an insulation barrier by penetrating the substrate up to 17mm into the wall. Plus, it can last up to 20 years without compromising efficiency.
This is used for preventing efflorescence in building materials. Sealing a building material’s surface with hydrophobic sealant helps prevent it from absorbing water, reducing the risk of efflorescence.
Efflorescence is a common phenomenon on bricks, concretes, and even rocks, which takes away from the aesthetic value of the wall. While several causes are responsible for efflorescence, everything boils down to moisture entering the wall, bringing the soluble salts out after evaporating.
While you might not have total control over the future occurrence of efflorescence, painting your wall with waterproof paint is a preventive measure to reduce the risk.