If you have any kind of masonry on your property, chances are you’ve dealt with white streaks or patches on the surface at some point. You’ve also probably had a few questions once you noticed it for the first time. What is it? Is it dangerous? Is it a sign of a problem? To answer the first question, it is called efflorescence. Read on for more facts about this common chimney occurrence.
Efflorescence is a deposit of salt that is left behind as water evaporates on your masonry’s surface. It can be present on chimneys, pavers, sidewalks, and home finishes like brick and stucco. Because masonry materials are porous, they can absorb water. As the water dries and the salt is left behind, the efflorescence “flowers out” and appears on the surface.
Sometimes, a homeowner will see this white substance and panic. They assume that somewhere within their chimney system is a mold problem. Is this the case?
Thankfully, the good news is that efflorescence is not mold and it is not dangerous. It can, however, be a sign that moisture is sneaking into places you do not want it to be.
Oftentimes, efflorescence will go away on its own. As it can be unsightly in some locations like the walls of your home or chimney, you have a few options to remove the deposits. Those include:
• A brush and mild cleaner;
• Natural cleaning solutions like diluted vinegar;
• Removing stains with a pressure washer;
• Or using a specialized cleaner designed for efflorescence deposits.
It is important to note, however, that these cleaning options are not a one-and-done fix. Without other preventive methods in place, occasional cleaning will be required to keep visible efflorescence at bay. This can also be taken care of by your A-1 Chimney Specialist technician when they do an annual inspection and cleaning.
Speaking of prevention, there are a few ways to discourage efflorescence from causing more problems to your home’s masonry and concrete surfaces. Start by installing eaves, flashing, and other coverings designed to keep moisture away from your walls.
Next, be mindful of lawn sprinklers and other landscaping choices and direct the flow of water away from these surfaces. If you have an area that will be subjected to the elements regularly without protection like a chimney crown, consider applying a waterproof sealant. This can prevent water from getting into your home and causing even more damage.
While efflorescence itself is not dangerous or a definite sign of an issue, its presence is not something to ignore. After all, it can be a sign of a hidden water problem, like a leaky chimney.
Have you noticed efflorescence on your chimney or do you need to get on our inspection schedule? If so, call A-1 Chimney Specialist at TN – 931-967-3595 (TN) or 256-285-4895 (AL); you can also send our team a message through our contact form.