What is the White, Chalky Powder on My Foundation Walls?
Efflorescence is that white, powder substance that develops on foundation walls. It is the result of salt and mineral deposits. When moisture penetration occurs at your foundation walls, the water carries soluble salts and minerals to the interior surface of your masonry walls. These salts and minerals are then deposited on the surface of your foundation walls when the moisture evaporates, leaving behind a crystalline like structure — Efflorescence. While this is not actually mold, visible efflorescence is a warning sign of a moisture problem that has caused mold elsewhere or could cause mold down the line.
Efflorescence is a common problem in basements and crawl spaces with masonry block foundations. On its own, efflorescence is harmless, but the moisture that carried it into the basement or crawl space is a different story. Foundation moisture issues in basements and crawl spaces should be assessed and addressed by a professional waterproofing company. Unaddressed foundation wall moisture can cause mold growth, water damage and structural damage.
Do I Have White Mold on My Foundation Walls?
Efflorescence often gets mistaken for mold, but it is not actually mold. If you see a white, powdery substance on the surface of your foundation walls in the basement or crawl space, it is likely not white mold. However, it is an indicator of moisture that could mean potential mold elsewhere. The water that brought the salt deposits into the basement or crawl space in the first place can cause mold development. If the water soaks into porous materials nearby like wood, drywall or cellulose based materials, it could become a breeding ground for fungal growth. When water evaporates, the water vapors rise and will likely soak into the wood floor joists and subfloor on the basement ceiling or crawl space ceiling above. With time, moisture buildup will cause mold, structural damage, wood rot and other issues.
If you see efflorescence at your basement or crawl space walls, take a look at the nearby wood members for signs of fungal growth. While assessing for basement mold or crawl space mold, be sure to look up! It’s easy to see issues at our direct line of sign (i.e: on walls, furniture, cabinetry, etc.), but Kansas homeowners often neglect to look overhead assess for moldy floor joists or moldy subflooring.
What Causes Efflorescence to Develop on Foundation Walls?
Water penetration at the foundation walls is most often the culprit behind efflorescence in Kansas crawl spaces and basements. Soluble salts and minerals seeps in with water, and stays behind when the water evaporates. Water intrusion at your foundation walls is usually the result of one of (or a combination of) the follow:
Ground Water Saturation– Capillary action can draw ground water from wet soil into masonry building materials.
Vapor Drive– Moisture vapor 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 Intrusion – 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– Occurs when sprinklers saturate an exterior wall, causing water to enter the wall and later retreat, carrying salts to the surface.
This is just to name a few common events that can cause efflorescence buildup on your basement foundation walls or crawl space foundation walls. If an underlying moisture issue is leading to additional issues like mold growth and water damage, you might need to consult a professional.
Basement & Crawl Space Mold Inspection & Mold Removal
Water penetration, seepage or flooding in your basement or crawl space can potentially leave you with a moldy environment. If you suspect an issue, you should consult a local mold inspector near you. A certified mold inspector is experienced in assessing for mold and the conditions that could have caused the issue in the first place. Mold inspections are designed to determine if a problem exists, the underlying causation, the severity of the contamination, and the necessary course of action to remove the problem.
If you are in need of mold testing and mold remediation services in the Topeka, Manhattan, Salina, McPherson or any of the surrounding North-Central Kansas area – The Lamunyon Team can help. Our local mold inspection team is specially certified to provide thorough and comprehensive mold inspections, as well as safe and effective mold removal services. Our mold removal team is technically trained and experienced in providing safe and effective mold cleanup services. Contact Lamunyon’s local office today to learn more – 785-367-2494.