My Home Inspector Blog: Have You Tried Efflorescence?- La Jolla Home Inspection

Have You Tried Efflorescence?- La Jolla Home Inspection

Have You Tried Efflorescence?- La Jolla Home Inspection




No, it is not a new perfume fragrance! Efflorescence is seen as white, powdery deposits on masonry surfaces such as brick, concrete or stone due to an accumulation of minerals and salts. Any home inspector knows that efflorescence itself is not dangerous, but it does indicate the presence of excessive moisture, which can lead to more serious structural issues.




How Does Efflorescence Form?

Natural salts are present in the raw materials that make up masonry products, such as concrete, asphalt and stucco. These salts remain trapped within masonry in a solid form until they are dissolved by water, which usually makes its way into the material through small pores. Cold, dry air will draw the water back out of the material where it evaporates and deposits the salt as a white crystalline growth on the surface. Efflorescence typically forms during cold, dry weather shortly after it has rained and moisture has entered the masonry. It can occur year-round, but it often forms during the winter due to low temperatures.


What Does Efflorescence Look Like?

The appearance of efflorescence varies greatly. It can be powdery, it can have sharp edges, or it can have indistinct edges. It can be a fine dust or it can form large, individual crystals. It's appearance depends partly on the type of salt from which it is composed. It can be white, yellow or brown in color.





How To Remove Efflorescence

Pressurized water can be used to remove or dissolve efflorescence. Diluted muriatic acid can also be used, although water should be applied first so the acid does not discolor the masonry surface. Following application, baking soda can be used to neutralize the acid and prevent any additional damage to the masonry. Note: If water is used in the removal process, it should be dried quickly to prevent the efflorescence from reappearing.




Have You Tried Efflorescence?- La Jolla Home Inspection: In summary, efflorescence should not be applied to your skin before going out on a date! It is a harmless yet unsightly accumulation of salts on masonry surfaces. It's presence indicates excessive moisture which, if left unchecked, can cause deterioration or shortened life-span of the masonry component. Steve Stenros, a La Jolla home inspector, is the owner of First Choice Inspections and is a CREIA MCI inspector. Clients receive a FREE lifetime appliance RecallChek with every standard home inspection. Appointments can be obtained by calling 888-335-3040.


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Comment balloon 7 commentsSteve Stenros • May 27 2011 02:28AM


Hmmm - can you eat it - perhaps use it as a spice?  We see it quite often in the Bay Area - thanks for the good information, however,  I have never heard of trying to remove it.  Most of our crawl spaces are so tight, seems like it would be a tough job.  Who would you use to remove it? Are there efflorescence removal specialists?

Posted by Ann Wilkins, Oakland, Berkeley, Piedmont CA (Bay Sotheby's International Realty) almost 7 years ago


Yikes Steve, you bring back bad memories.  I was (and still am) a Painting and General Building Contractor in CA (555251) and remember the many issues I had to deal with when working on surfaces covered in efflorescence.  Nice post Steve!  :)

Posted by Joe Lane Richland, WA Realtor, 509.438.9344 (Kennewick Richland (and West) Pasco WA Homes For Sale) almost 7 years ago

Thanks for the useful information about this commonly called inspection item.

Posted by Michelle Carr-Crowe-Top 1% Diamond Certified Real Estate Team Sells Cupertino San Jose Homes-Just Call 408-252-8900, Family Helping Families Buy & Sell Homes 40+ Years (Get Results Team...Just Call (408) 252-8900!) almost 7 years ago

Ann: I wouldn't even be concerned with removing it in a crawlspace area. If it is on a more visible surface, it can be unsightly.

Joe: Efflorescence is one of the most misspelled (and mispronounced) words in my profession!

Michelle: It is often mentioned in my reports, although I focus more on where the moisture that caused it is coming from.

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) almost 7 years ago

Steve, I see this a lot at homes I've shown.  Now I know what it's called! 

Can you apply it to your skin if you didn't want to go on the date in the 1st place.  :-)

Posted by Trang Beuschlein, Campbell CA Real Estate - Campbell CA Homes for Sa (Homes for Sale in Campbell CA- Broker-BKR Realty) almost 7 years ago

LOL, Trang! I'm sure it would be a great deterrent!

Posted by Steve Stenros, CREIA MCI, ICC, ACI Home Inspector,San Diego (Poway,La Jolla,Del Mar,Mira Mesa,Carlsbad,Escondido,Temecula) almost 7 years ago

Good Morning Steve, this is an issue that I have not noticed in this area of California.  I am sure it exists and will be aware of the cause now.  Thanks for the excellent post.

Posted by Dan Edward Phillips, Realtor and Broker/Owner (Dan Edward Phillips) almost 7 years ago