What is Efflorescence?

At Weinstein Construction, we get many calls every month from homeowners who are disturbed to find weird and ugly stains that ooze, flake, and peel off their unfinished basement walls or grow inside the surfaces of their crawl spaces.  The worry, of course, is whether or not these “petri dish” stains are harmful mold and mildew that destroy air quality and bring illness into the home…

It could be that such ugly staining is simply efflorescence, which is a white, powdery type of crystallized mineral salt that forms on walls.  Although efflorescence has a nasty look and is often confused with mold, it is not alive and does not pose a serious health risk (unless you eat it!).  However, importantly, if you see efflorescence, you could also have harmful, toxic mold, fungus, and bacteria, and so you do need to figure out what is going on!

What is universally true is that all of these ugly stains happen for the same reason:  moisture coming in from the ground or from humid outdoor air!

How is moisture getting into my home?

When a home has exposed earth under its floors, for example, inside a crawl space, groundwater and rainwater seeps into the exposed soil, entering from under the home’s footings and through every crack the water finds in porous concrete and block walls.  Once the water is in, the damp earth releases an incredible amount of water vapor as it slowly attempts to dry.  Sadly, in most homes that have exposed soil crawl spaces, the earth never dries, and instead, emits an invisible jet of water vapor that is continuously released into the home.

The moisture is also getting into the home from the humid air which moves in and out of the smallest and largest of spaces, bringing with it, its moisture content.  Remember, crawl spaces are always built to be vented, allowing the air to come in and out.  As such, in the hot seasons, the warm air that comes into the cool crawl space becomes cooler, raising the relative humidity.  And in the rainy seasons, humid air floods the crawl space and again, raises the relative humidity inside!

What should I do about moisture and staining inside my basement or crawl space?

Moisture in crawl spaces can damage your home and pose a health hazard.  Such moisture can  cause windows to stick, wood floors to buckle, wood frames to rot and bend, and metal parts to rust.  And yes, moisture can even lead to higher energy bills.  But worst of all, moisture can cause harmful mold, mildew, and bacteria spores to grow inside the home.

The best way to mitigate this problem is to use a crawl space “encapsulation” system, which in essence seals and insulates the crawl space area under the home from outside elements by literally wrapping the entire crawl space area with a layer of ultra-durable polyethylene liner.  At the same time, the crawl space vents and port doors are covered up to offer full insulation.  At Weinstein Construction, we have installed the amazing yet affordable “CleanSpace” crawl space encapsulation system for hundreds of clients – we can attest to its amazing effectiveness!

The cost to remove unhealthy mold from a home or repair a home with structural damage from crawl space moisture will be exponentially higher than using an encapsulation system.  Savvy homeowners know that in this case, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!”

Weinstein Construction’s professionals have the right crawl space solution at an affordable price!  call Weinstein Construction today at (800) 862-6582 for a free inspection and review of your home’s crawlspace needs!  We are also expert drain contractors and can also help with basement waterproofing, leaky basement repair, basement wall sealing, French drain installation, and foundation cracks repair and replacement!