What Is Efflorescence and How Can You Remove It?
Efflorescence is the whitish or greyish stain that forms on concrete surfaces or any other surfaces in your home. The term efflorescence means to flower as that is what happens when the stain blooms on the surface. It mostly affects bricks, stucco, concrete, and stone surfaces. Basically, efflorescence is made up of the salt that remains after the water evaporates from the surface. You can see it as a powder-like substance on your surfaces. If you have this stain on any surface in your home, you will require special lawn care to remove it.
No matter how well you take care of your lawn, the stain will always ruin the look of your outdoor living space. During the next lawn care, schedule efflorescence removal. Lawn Brothers can help you with that. In this article, you will learn more about efflorescence, how to prevent it, and how to remove it.
What Causes Efflorescence?
Efflorescence can form inside and outside the house. The frequency and intensity of the stain are different in different parts of the country, thanks to the varying levels of temperature and humidity in different regions. For the stain to form, there has to be:
• Water-soluble salts on or in the construction material
• Moisture tar dissolves the salt
• Evaporation of the moisture, making the salt crystalize and leave the whitish stain on the surface
Moisture comes from rainwater or snow. There may also be condensation or groundwater that rises up the structure. Indoor activities may also provide the needed moisture to cause efflorescence. Efflorescence can form over time, or it may form immediately after the construction of a building, especially if there is no means to prevent groundwater from rising up the walls.
In most cases, efflorescence forms within the first 72 hours after construction. This is due to the high amount of water used during construction. Leaving masonry units overnight may cause them to absorb moisture from the soil or the atmosphere, causing them to form efflorescence. As such, masons should ensure they cover the pallets to ensure efflorescence does not form.
Incorrect installation of some building materials may lead to the formation of efflorescence. Some instances where this may happen include:
• Incorrect use of through-wall flashings
• Insufficient ventilation for the masonry
• Failure to add a moisture barrier during masonry construction
• Failure of the joint materials after installation
• Improper storage of building materials before construction
Efflorescence is seasonal. It is common in winter when there is rain and snow. The stain may also form in summer, spring, or fall in instances where moisture forms.
How to Distinguish Efflorescence from other Stains
There are so many other stains that may look like efflorescence. It is important that you identify efflorescence from other stains in order to devise the best way to remove it. Efflorescence appears as a white and powdery substance that forms on unsealed surfaces. Some of the affected surfaces include:
• Bricks – Bricks are porous – which is why they absorb so much salt and water. You can test a brick for salts by dipping it in distilled water for about seven days. If it forms efflorescence when you remove it from the water, then it contains salts.
• Cement – Portland cement has a higher amount of alkalis compared to other types of cement. Other types may have a low amount of alkalis, but they are still prone to the formation of efflorescence.
• Lime – Lime is water-soluble. When reacted with unbuffered hydrochloric acid, it produces calcium chloride. This calcium chloride may appear on the surface of the materials where lime is used. However, when used correctly, lime improves the bond between materials, making your walls water-resistant.
• Admixtures – Admixtures may lead to the formation of efflorescence, depending on their bond and strength. You should avoid admixtures if you do not understand what is in them.
• Backings – These materials, such as concrete, contain dissolved salts, which might cause the formation of efflorescence on brickwork. When moisture dissolves from the materials, efflorescence forms.
• Trims – Making trims, caps, and other trims may require materials with dissolved salts. It is challenging to control the salts in these materials. Before the start of a construction process, consider the ingredients of trim materials.
• Sand – Sand is not water-soluble, but other materials might compromise it, causing formation of efflorescence on sand. Using cleaned sand free of contamination can reduce the formation of efflorescence.
• Clay – Clay is a component of face and building bricks. It contains dissolved salts and may also react with salts, such as calcium sulfate, resulting in formation of efflorescence.
Most building materials that are in contact with the ground may absorb water and salts, leading to formation of efflorescence. To remove the stain for good, you need to understand its root cause. Some of the salts that may cause this problem include:
• Calcium sulfate in brick
• Sodium sulfate in cement brick reactions
• Potassium sulfate in cement-brick reactions
• Calcium carbonate in concrete and mortar
• Vanadyl sulfate in brick
• Potassium carbonate in mortar
• Sodium carbonate in mortar
• Manganese oxide in brick
How to Remove Efflorescence
Are you looking for the best solution for efflorescence in Nassau County, Suffolk County, or Long Island New York? Lawn Bros can help you with lawn care services near me and also in the removal of efflorescence. Your outdoor living space will look good after mowing lawn, but it will look better with the stains off the surfaces.
Efflorescence can disappear even without your interference. The salts that lead to formation of the stain are water-soluble and the normal weathering process can remove them. However, if the condition keeps coming back, you need an amicable solution.
Here are a few ways to remove the stains:
• Pressurized water – Using pressurized water will dissolve the materials from the surfaces. Remember to wipe out any water on the surface as failure to do so will cause the water to evaporate, leading to formation of efflorescence.
• Vinegar – Dilute vinegar and spray it on the surface that has efflorescence. The vinegar removes the salts without affecting your wall the way commercial chemicals will. Again, you may already have vinegar in your kitchen.
• Brush Off – Once the efflorescence dissolves, a strong brush can remove it. Scrub the stain off the surface to leave the surface clean. Do this in times of warm weather. After brushing off the efflorescence, more moisture will escape from the surface and you can brush it off too. This way, by the time winter comes, your surfaces will be free of any salts that can cause efflorescence.
After efflorescence removal, you can apply a clear water repellent, acrylic, or silicone coating to get rid of efflorescence for good. The use of warm water and vinegar also prevents the recurrence of stains.
Besides the above home remedies, you can use efflorescence cleaners to remove the stains completely and deeply. Apply the coating of the cleaners effectively and your surfaces will be free of the stain. Here are simple steps to remove efflorescence for good.
• Brush and rinse the affected surface. Use a hosepipe to spray water on the surface for outdoor surfaces and a spray bottle for indoor surfaces.
• Apply the efflorescence cleaner by spraying. You can apply more than one coat, depending on how much the surface is affected.
• Rinse the surface the second time. Use a clean cloth and clean distilled water to clean the surface. Dry the surface completely to ensure efflorescence does not form.
You should apply the efflorescence cleaner below and above the affected surface. This way, the water that evaporates from other surfaces will not affect the treated area.
Simple Steps to Prevent Formation of the Efflorescence
Instead of waiting for efflorescence to form, you can take a few steps to prevent its formation. Taking care of the building materials will ensure that they are ready for construction and free from stain. There are several solutions to ensure the condition does not occur. You can use:
• Quality Construction - The use of quality materials and the best construction processes will reduce the formation of efflorescence. The masonry company should use the right copings, eaves, and flashings to keep off water.
• Hydrophobic sealant to keep off water
• Capillary breaks to prevent the salt from entering the home
• Correct use of sprinklers and landscaping
• Installation of grout with vibration
• Using grout admixtures to reduce the water content of grout, reduce the void in grout, and make it flow well
• Store construction materials appropriately so that they do not get moisture
Keep watch for signs of efflorescence and curtail it before it damages the look of your home.
Your outdoor space will always look challenged with the efflorescence on surfaces. You can ensure this is not the case by taking care of the surfaces. Lawn Brothers can help you get rid of the stains when doing the normal lawn care services near me in Suffolk County, Nassau County, and Long Island New York. We will also work with the masonry company to ensure that your surfaces are protected from efflorescence.
Your brickwork needs work, and you can do that when mowing the lawn. Call us today and let us help you.