That white flaky stuff you see is called “efflorescence.” It’s mineral salt residue that gets left behind when water evaporates. Sometimes it looks like white dust at first, but then you realize it’s in the middle of the wall or in another odd spot where dust normally doesn’t collect.
So what is efflorescence? How does it get there? What does it mean and what should you do? That is what we will discuss in this post!
Efflorescence: What Is It & Where Does It Come From?
At its most fundamental, water is a molecule made up of atoms. The water molecule contains precisely three atoms: two hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom (or H2O, as you probably know). But water can also have lots of other things in it, too!
Water is what chemists call a solvent—a substance that has the power to dissolve other substances. In fact, water is a universal solvent, which means it can dissolve more different types of substances than any other solvent on the planet.
As well, the way water is constructed, with two positively charged hydrogen atoms and one negatively charged oxygen atom, lots of substances that need dissolving are naturally attracted to it. Salts, minerals, chemicals and other substances are drawn to water, so water picks these substances up as it flows toward wherever it’s going.
Then it gets to your basement—from a recent storm or a rising water table, or from sprinkler system runoff or some other route—and it is carrying all these other substances with it. What happens next?
How Efflorescence Gets Into Your Basement
“Efflorescence” comes from a French word that means “to flower out.” This is exactly what efflorescence does! That dusty white matter you see is composed of the mineral salts “flowering out” as the water that carried them inside your basement evaporates, leaving them high and dry (so to speak) and in plain sight.
What is interesting about the building blocks of the typical basement structure—concrete blocks, poured concrete, masonry bricking—is that this material is naturally somewhat porous. Basically, this means that water can and does regularly penetrate the material.
In past centuries, when basements were installed directly over cellars as a point of access to food supplies stored beneath, no one much cared if the basement area took on a bit of water or became seasonally humid. But today, people live, work and play in basements, which are viewed as an extension of the home’s useful space.
So today, when a new basement is being constructed, some type of initial damp-proofing protection is typically applied. But this initial application has a shelf life, which can be shortened further by shifting soil, changing water table levels, ground settling and other factors.
As the initial damp-proofing wears off, porous concrete begins to take on moisture in a number of ways. This moisture makes its way through tiny capillaries and pores in the concrete and seeps into your basement, where it slowly evaporates and leaves behind its calling card—dried mineral salts, or efflorescence.
What Efflorescence Is Trying to Tell You
As you may have figured out by now, efflorescence is carrying a message from your basement to you to let you know moisture is getting inside somehow.
Its primary routes may be micro-fissures or capillaries—tiny channels so small they can be nearly impossible to perceive with the unaided eye. Water can also enter through larger fissures or cracks that are visible.
Another way water routinely gets in is through windows when window well drains get backed up or simply degrade and stop working. Water can also seep up from the ground through your foundation and cause dampness on the basement floor.
If this seepage is quite slow, efflorescence may be the only warning sign to alert you that your basement has a leak.
Here, it can help to do an initial walk-through and note the areas where you see efflorescence. Next, clean the white powder away from those areas and wait a few days and do another walk-through. Notice if you see efflorescence everywhere or just in one specific area. This will give you information about where and how moisture may be entering.
What to Do About Efflorescence in Your Basement
Learning how to control damp, moisture and water leaks inside basements is an ongoing science. As homes get older, new problems are discovered and new solutions are created to solve those problems.
The best step after discovering basement efflorescence and doing your basement walk-through to find as many affected areas as you can is to contact a professional to inspect and evaluate your basement’s risk level for water damage.
In some cases, the risk may be low and a dehumidifier can handle the moisture removal to buy you some time to budget and plan. In other cases, the moisture may point to a bigger structural issue that needs resolution before it worsens and turns into a major repair.
Affordable basement waterproofing options exist to prevent moisture damage in your basement, provide peace of mind and improve the future resale value of your home. Best of all, waterproofing basement walls from inside will not impact the usability of your basement space.
Get in Touch
Are you concerned by the presence of efflorescence inside your basement? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Spend enough time in the company of people who own older homes with older basements and you might begin to dread the day your basement finally springs a leak.
Statistically speaking, you have a 60 percent chance of this happening to you.
Moisture in the basement is quite common for any number of reasons, only some of which you can control.
Luckily, there is a way to control basement waterproofing cost. When you learn the early warning signs your basement sends out to alert you to a moisture problem, you can act before the problem becomes a major repair and expense.
Prevention Is Cost-Effective!
If you are in the process of building a new home that will have a basement, you can build in eternal peace of mind by including full exterior or interior basement waterproofing as part of the job.
Taking a preventative approach may cost you a bit more now, but it can save you a bundle later and increase the potential resale value of your home when you are ready to sell.
Common Basement Moisture Issues and Their Causes
Here is a brief overview of the most commonly reported basement moisture issues and their likely causes.
This is particularly problematic with older homes. The basement is no spring chicken, and chances are good it has formed micro-fissures or cracks over the years.
Topography changes can worsen any structural degradation as the years pass. Changing water table levels, shifting soil, surrounding construction that re-routes or overburdens drainage systems and similar issues can also change how easily water finds its way into your basement.
When the ground shifts, this can wreak havoc with your home’s grading, causing water to flow back toward your foundation instead of away from it.
Failing sump pump
Sump systems, like all major equipment, have a time-sensitive useful life. Over time, your sump pump may struggle to keep up with the demands of its job.
We have all seen how global warming and climate change is also changing our weather patterns, often intensifying storms and increasing rainfall.
This in turn can create more water pressure (hydrostatic pressure) on your basement walls and foundation as water fights to find a way in, causing dampness, then seepage, then outright leaks and standing water.
Structural wear and tear
Whether you have a poured concrete foundation or a concrete brick foundation, natural settling and mortar degradation are two common reasons moisture or water finds its way inside your basement.
Window well drains that clog up or become compromised can cause nearly as much damage as an outright flood—those wells can hold a surprising amount of water that has nowhere else to go once the drain becomes blocked.
Frozen drainage lines are another common reason why window wells, sump pumps and other protective systems can’t do their job of keeping water out of your basement space.
Control What You Can To Keep Water Out
Here are some things you can do to prevent moisture and water leaks in your basement.
Maintain your gutters, downspouts and drainage system
A well-maintained drainage system with effective downspouts and clean, clear gutters is better able to do its job of routing water away from your basement.
This includes maintaining window wells as best you can, access permitting.
Evaluate your landscaping and grading
Choosing the right landscaping and ensuring your grading is appropriately lower than your home’s foundation can prevent further basement moisture and lessen existing issues.
Install a backup sump pump
Whether your sump pump is brand-new, middle-aged or nearing its golden years, giving it a little extra support in the form of a back-up sump pump system can potentially save you thousands of dollars in basement flooding and mould clean-up and repair.
Installing a portable dehumidifier in your basement can extract excess moisture and prevent mould and mildew from forming. Installing exhaust vents where appropriate (especially if you do laundry in your basement) can also be a cost-effective preventative measure.
Insulating and sealing your basement
Adding insulation and sealing your basement floor, walls and ceiling can keep excess moisture out and aid in humidity and temperature balancing year-round.
Controlling Basement Waterproofing Cost
Basement waterproofing can be accomplished in a number of ways. There are both exterior and interior treatments.
Some treatments are permanent and preventative, while others are more like Band-Aids or stop-gap measures.
These variances can mean that gathering quotes from contractors quickly becomes an exercise in confusion and frustration.
When you get two or three quotes with vastly different pricing, chances are good this is because each contractor is recommending a different type of waterproofing treatment. This is when you want to sit down with someone knowledgeable and trustworthy who can help you sort through your options and select the best, most cost-effective treatment.
Exterior basement waterproofing is typically reserved for new construction or major structural issues that likely will also require other invasive repairs. When the recommended basement treatment comes with a major price tag (in the tens of thousands of dollars), you are likely looking at a quote for exterior waterproofing.
Interior basement waterproofing is generally recommended for an existing basement with ongoing issues with humidity, moisture, odour and minor leaks.
This service can often be done for as little as a third of the price of an exterior treatment, with the average nationwide fee ranging from $2,000 and up.
Higher quotes often include recommended repairs, such as repairing cracks, sealing leaks and improving drainage and downspouts.
Get in Touch
Are you concerned about moisture in your basement? We can help!
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
If you have a basement or are planning new construction including a basement, chances are good you are already thinking about basement waterproofing.
Perhaps you are wondering if waterproofing basement walls from inside can protect your new basement from moisture and leaks later on.
Or maybe your question is about whether waterproofing basement walls from inside could be a potential fix for leaks or dampness in your existing basement.
Read on to learn the answers to these and other basement waterproofing questions!
Hydrostatic Pressure: What It Is & How It Causes Leaks
If you had to take a guess, how much do you think a single cubic inch of rainwater weighs as it presses against your basement walls?
According to range scientists, one cubic inch of rainwater can weigh 60 pounds or more as it presses against your basement walls. This is called “hydrostatic pressure” and it is a major cause for basement leaks.
With continual hydrostatic pressure from sprinkler runoff, storm water, underground springs or even your local water table, your walls will be hard-pressed to keep that water out forever.
What happens when there is more than one cubic inch of water in the soil surrounding your basement walls?
Imagine hundreds or even thousands of pounds of water pressing against your basement structure. How long will the integrity of the walls and floors, seams and joints withstand this kind of force?
Wrap It To Protect It: How Waterproofing Works
When you are about to head outside and see that it has started to rain, what do you do before you leave? If you are like many, you probably grab an umbrella or, better yet, a raincoat!
With the right accessories, you can stay dry even while standing in pouring water. This is the same basic concept that helped invent today’s basement waterproofing treatments.
There are two basic methods for waterproofing a basement: exterior and interior.
Exterior waterproofing is really only financially feasible when you are waterproofing a new basement-in-progress as part of a preventative measure or when you only need to treat a single wall that has been noticeably impacted from the outside by something like a tree root.
Otherwise, the cost to excavate fully around your basement walls, apply the treatment and restore the soil and landscaping is typically prohibitive.
Waterproofing basement walls from inside is the first-choice treatment for homeowners who need to address an issue with seepage, standing water or moisture in an existing basement structure.
Different Types of Inside Basement Waterproofing
The type of inside basement waterproofing treatment you choose will depend on what type of water problem you are facing.
Some issues can be fully resolved by simply applying the basement waterproofing treatment to seal your basement interior and prevent further moisture from entering.
However, some issues need preparatory repair treatments before the waterproofing treatment can be applied.
Once larger cracks or leaks have formed, this two-phase approach to inside basement waterproofing is necessary to both preserve the structural integrity of your basement and prevent further moisture from entering.
How to Know Your Basement Needs Waterproofing
Your basement has its own way to communicate with you that something is wrong. These warning signs are each indications you may need to consider waterproofing basement walls from inside.
Humidity and dampness
Humid basement air and damp walls let you know that somehow, somewhere, moisture is seeping into your basement.
A dehumidifier can offer a band-aid solution, but the only sure way to prevent mould and mildew from forming is to seal up micro-fissures and cracks with an inside waterproofing treatment.
Sump pump running
When your sump pump never seems to fully shut off, this can be a sign that water is continually seeping into your basement from somewhere.
Water may be entering from walls or flooring. In these types of situations, often basement waterproofing is combined with the installation of a backup sump pump for peace of mind.
Do you dread going down into your basement because it always smells...off? Musty, damp, grassy—these are some ways homeowners describe the unmistakable aroma of “dirty gym socks” that often arises once mould and mildew has begun to form.
Mould and mildew of any strain can be particularly concerning because spores can colonize in micro-fissures where no human eye can ever detect them. Over time as the colony grows, you may begin to see discolouration on the interior walls, but odour is definitely going to be your first warning sign.
Once mould has formed, it will be necessary to get an evaluation for remediation work before it is safe to proceed with interior basement waterproofing.
White powder on walls
Efflorescence is the technical term for the white powdery residue that remains once water has evaporated. The white powder is from the salt present in the water.
Seeing efflorescence anywhere inside your basement is a clear indication that water has been there. This residue must be cleaned off before your basement can be waterproofed.
Obvious leaks or standing water
The sign most likely to trigger outright alarm in homeowners is the sight of water leaking into or pooling on the floor.
Here, the first order of business is always to seal the leak before proceeding to seal the basement with inside waterproofing.
Inside Basement Waterproofing Solutions
The science of structural waterproofing has come a long way over the last decade. Today, we have so many treatments for waterproofing basement walls from inside.
Crack and fissure repair, drainage and downspout upgrades, mould-repellent insulation, sump system backups, well and window drains, damp-proofing and both exterior and interior waterproofing can give you present-day peace of mind and enhance the potential resale value of your home in the future!
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664.
Discovering water or moisture inside your basement can be stressful. For starters, the source of the water may not be obvious.
Even if it is clear where the moisture is coming in from, there is still the issue of figuring out the best type of permanent fix.
Plus, where there is one basement leak, it is very likely there are more, and these may not be so easy to spot!
What should you do when you discover moisture or water in your basement? What type of treatment will make sure the problem doesn’t reappear again or show up in another location later on?
We will answer these and other important questions about how to fix a foundation leak from the inside—for good!
The Good News & the Bad News About Foundation Leaks
Every day, a homeowner in Canada will wander down to the basement to discover moisture. It might come in the form of general dampness, a lingering humidity in the air or a slight sheen on the walls and floors.
It might show up first as window condensation or mildew that starts to colonize a neglected chilly corner.
Or it might appear as a drip, a trickle or, worst of all, a gush of water coming into the basement from somewhere else in or around your foundation.
Here, there is good news and bad news. The good news is that you have discovered the leak. This means you can fix it before it gets even worse.
The bad news is that, just as with roof leaks, where there is one foundation leak you can see, there is likely to be another you can’t see, and that leak may continue to get worse until it finally makes its presence known with disastrous consequences.
Is Patching Up a Foundation Leak Enough?
Here, it nearly goes without saying that your newly discovered foundation leak hasn’t arrived at a convenient moment.
You probably don’t have wads of extra cash languishing about in your savings account for just such a homeowner’s repair need as this.
Even if you do have stacks of cash saved up, chances are good you weren’t planning to spend it on patching up a leaky foundation!
So if you are like most homeowners, you are keen to spend as little as possible to take care of the leak and move on to other, greener (and drier) pastures.
But will a patch do it? How can you know for sure? The answer is that opting for a simple, single-leak patch is always going to be a gamble.
When patching the leak makes sense
The argument for patching the single leak and calling it a day is when it seems fairly clear the leak is caused by a single structural issue that is unlikely to be found elsewhere.
For example, let’s say that with a bit of exterior excavation, your technician discovers a massive tree root pressing in on your foundation wall that is allowing stormwater and runoff from your lawn watering system to seep inside your home.
This is a great example of a situation you are unlikely to find elsewhere, and thus applying a single patch to the leak you’ve found may be enough to resolve the issue.
When patching a leak does not make sense
Over time, even the sturdiest foundation can begin to experience age-related wear and tear. And if the original foundation was not so sturdy or well-constructed, this is going to intensify the degradation once it begins.
A foundation that is settling incrementally due to age, wear and tear, changing soil conditions or other comprehensive factors will probably need more than a band-aid leak patch to resolve the issue.
What to Do When You Discover a Foundation Leak
If the word “panic” springs to mind here, you are definitely not alone! It is only natural to panic when you discover the underlying structure you rely on to support the rest of your home is no longer in perfect working order!
What you really need is to know the extent of the issue so you can make some decisions about what to do now, what to do later and how to budget for the essential repairs.
So the best first step is to contact a professional to do a leak assessment. With today’s modern moisture detection tools, we can identify the scope of the moisture issue and assess the existing and potential impact to your home.
Once you know what is wrong, you can make decisions about next steps. We can talk through options for repairs, including leak patches and waterproofing options.
Fix Your Foundation Leak from the Inside with Waterproofing
If you are an experienced homeowner, you may have heard about different types of foundation waterproofing services. There are two main foundation waterproofing methods: exterior waterproofing and interior waterproofing.
Exterior waterproofing can be a great option as a preventative treatment for new construction or during a major renovation.
At other times, interior waterproofing is generally regarded as the better option. Interior waterproofing doesn’t require displacement of surrounding soil, lawn and landscaping, and it can typically be done in such a way to preserve a basement space (if applicable) as a useable part of your home.
Plus (and this is the part most homeowners like the best!) interior foundation waterproofing is cheaper than exterior waterproofing.
Foundation waterproofing can fix a foundation leak from the inside either as a standalone solution or in conjunction with other repairs that may be needed (for example, mould or moisture remediation, bowed or cracked walls, walls separating, foundation settling).
Get in Touch
Contact us online or give us a call at 1-866-875-6664 if you suspect your foundation may have a leak! We can help.