White Chalk-Like Residue On Your Basement Walls? Here’s What You Need To Know!

Water damage to your home's foundation can compromise the structural integrity of your home. Therefore, it's important to notice the signs of water damage in your home's foundation as soon as possible. One sign of water damage causes white powder to form on the concrete walls of your foundation. Here's why it happens and what you can do about it. 

What's going on inside the foundation walls and the structure of your home? 

There are two things that can happen when moisture is constantly present along the foundation of your home: the formation of efflorescence and the capillary action of water. 

  • Efflorescence—The white powder is called efflorescence, and it has a chalk-like texture. It indicates that moisture has infiltrated through the concrete. This moisture can cause damage to your foundation, but it can also cause poor indoor air quality. Efflorescence occurs when salts from the water dissolve in a porous material, such as concrete. 
  • Capillary Action—Due to concrete being porous, water can move upwards and reach the wood structures of the framing of your home above the concrete foundation. This phenomenon is called capillary action. The denser materials of the structure of your home are not as porous as concrete, which causes the moisture to accumulate in those materials. Because of this, dry rot, mold, and corrosion can occur.

It's important to know that efflorescence may have developed from the construction phase of your home and/or may continue to develop due to rainwater and groundwater infiltration. Wipe down the interior walls to remove the white powder. If it returns, then the cause of the problem is ongoing, which means you'll need to hire a water damage restoration service investigate further as capillary action may be causing damage to the framing. 

What can be done to fix the problem and prevent it from re-occurring? 

If the efflorescence is ongoing and the water damage restoration service finds capillary action that is damaging your home's structure, the damage will need to be repaired. This may involve removing the damaged portions of the framing, particularly wood rot, and mold remediation. 

To prevent efflorescence and capillary action in the future, you'll need to waterproof your home's foundation. This can be done by installing a French drain around the perimeter of the foundation and/or by coating the exterior of the foundation with waterproofing. The type of remedy will largely depend on the amount of groundwater that is typically in the soil on your property.