Closeup of salts on an internal wall

What Are the Problems With Efflorescence?

15 June 2021

Efflorescence is a problem that generally surfaces when your property is encountering a problem with damp, and excess moisture present in the brickwork of a building. The big question a lot of people are going to have on their minds when they notice that efflorescence is present in their walls is what kind of problems can be caused, and how can efflorescence be stopped from spreading?

Hopefully, this article will answer those questions, and give you a good idea of how efflorescence comes to be within your walls, what causes it, and what you can do as a property owner to control it.

What Is Efflorescence?

If you have read this far and don’t have any real idea what efflorescence is, don’t worry, we will explain it now. Efflorescence is a white substance, that looks a little like powder, found on a properties exterior (or exposed) brickwork. These white stains are brought to the surface of your brickwork thanks to the presence of moisture.

Water, if present within your masonry, reacts with the salts contained within the building materials used within a properties brickwork, dissolving the salts which are then brought to the surface of the brickwork itself via evaporation.

Simply put, the efflorescence you see spreading on the exterior of your properties brickwork is the dissolved salt that is evaporating to the surface of your brickwork.

Salting on an exterior wall

What efflorescence can look like on external walls

What Causes Efflorescence?

Efflorescence, in layman’s terms, is the product of having water in your walls. This is most commonly caused by damp. The two types of damp that are usually responsible for the emergence of efflorescence which is rising damp and penetrating damp.

Rising damp is a problem that stems from water entering your properties walls through capillary action. This is usually down to a build up of liquid around the base of the wall and in the ground surrounding a property, combined with the failure of a properties damp defence measures – most commonly a damp proof course being ineffective.

Rising damp is usually limited when it comes to spreading through a property’s walls to about one metre above ground level – but, it can still have a devastating effect on a property despite its limited spread.

You also have the possibility of penetrating damp. Penetrating damp is entirely down to water entering a property thanks to faults in the properties design. This could mean a cavity wall tie failure has exposed the walls to weathering, bad pointing, overflowing drains causing consistent and heavy overflows– the list goes on.

Penetrating damp can often be more devastating when it comes to damp-based issues because if left unchecked, then the initial fault in the property, that allowed for the penetrating damp to set in could easily spread, and allow the damp to take a stronger hold on your property.

Of course, the cause of the damp in your walls could be entirely down to faulty piping. In any case – the root cause of the excess water needs to be dealt with before the efflorescence goes away for good.

What Kind of Problems Can Efflorescence Cause?

Efflorescence is a sign of damp, which can lead to black mould

In terms of damage to your exterior walls, efflorescence itself isn’t that threatening. You can look at it instead as a sign of bigger problems that occur from it but not the disease itself so to speak.

As efflorescence is brought about by moisture within your masonry, it is safe to assume that its presence is indicative of damp in your walls. It’s here that we can say with confidence that whilst your efflorescence isn’t going to cause you any major problems – the damp, if left untreated, most certainly will.

It’s important that if you do see any signs of efflorescence on your property’s walls, that you have your property looked at by a damp surveyor, as without having that problem solved, the efflorescence is going to keep returning.

If left unchecked, obviously the damp can have a degrading effect on your walls. From weakening the strength of your bricks, to allowing for black mould fungus to take hold on the inside of your property, the damage can be quite devastating to property and owner alike.

Efflorescence is not entirely limited to appearing on external walls. In fact, exposed brickwork is the most commonplace that people might recognise efflorescence, but in the situation that the efflorescence has begun to evaporate towards the interior of a property rather than the exterior, then you may start to see bigger problems evolve on your interior decoration.

Plasterboard for example can become entirely unusable thanks to the salts that efflorescence brings to the surface. If they are left untreated, the salts can pass through the plasterboard, and build up beneath whatever paint or wallpaper you might have applied.

Not only is this harmful to the plasterboard itself, but it can ruin any wallpaper or paint by expanding the plasterboard out – ripping wallpaper and entirely ruining paintwork.

Realistically in this situation, you are going to be continually replacing and repairing internal decoration until the damp problem in the wall has been entirely eliminated.

How to Remove Efflorescence?

So, when it comes to the question of how to remove efflorescence, there is going to be one piece of advice that stands above the rest: Have your damp problem properly surveyed and treated by the experts.

Both internal and external efforts to have the visible salts removed are going to be entirely in vain if the damp in the walls only evaporates out more salts in the future. That’s not even mentioning the amount of damage that untreated damp can do to your home.

Treat efflorescence as a warning, and on seeing it, give our team a call to talk about survey options. A member of our expert team can visit your property at a time right for you, and deliver comprehensive report on the cause and suggested actions to remove any damp in your property – a process that our highly qualified technicians can undertake with ease.

For more advice or to book a survey with our team, you can contact us online or by calling 0800 288 8660 to learn more.