Efflorescence is a crystalline deposit of salts that can form when water is present in or on brick, concrete, stone, stucco or other building surfaces. It has a white or greyish tint and consists of salt deposits left behind when water evaporates. In addition, efflorescence can appear as a powdery substance on floors and walls and requires special care to treat.
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The term ‘efflorescence’ is not always properly pronounced (“eff-floor-ess-sense”), much less adequately understood by design/construction professionals. It is the result of the combination of four factors:
In chemistry, efflorescence (which means "to flower out" in French) is the migration of a salt to the surface of a porous material, where it forms a coating. The essential process involves the dissolving of an internally held salt in water.
Efflorescence is one of the first signs of moisture problems for cementitious materials, especially masonry. A by-product of moisture combining with free salts, this phenomenon is not only just a cosmetic problem—left unchecked during freeze-thaw conditions, it can cause brick to weaken, spall, or crumble in some cases.
If you leave dissolved salts on the surface from water, they'll return as new efflorescence. Soft washing can be effective in removing surface deposits. The appropriate amount of pressure is important as a spray that is too intense may actually open pores on the surface encouraging further efflorescence.
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