How to fix efflorescence on brick walls

Q: How do I fix efflorescence on brick walls?

A: Brick buildings may be susceptible to a phenomenon called efflorescence, where salt-like deposits form on brick over time. If left to its own devices, this process ultimately can destroy brick buildings. To solve this issue, you can lightly pressure wash efflorescence on brick with approved commercial cleaning solutions. If property managers have no access to pressure washers, stiff brushes and efflorescent-cleaning products often work well. Follow our complete guide to efflorescence for the full details on how to tackle this pesky eyesore. 



Property Values and Efflorescence

In addition to the practical values that homes and other structures have, they also have financial values. The appraisal values of buildings partially depend on the condition of their constituent parts. If any individual components of a brick building suffers damage, the rest of the structure and its overall values can suffer too.

Efflorescence presents a real physical danger to brick-based structures, and it can also create visually unappealing deposits. This, in turn, can lower the value of buildings, and can even discourage potential tenants from pursuing rentals. These and other factors make it vitally important for property owners and managers to take care of efflorescence on brick issues promptly.


Efflorescence: There is More to it Than Meets the Eye

Brick structures often include mortar and similar products in their construction. These binders and the brick itself may contain calcium carbonate and other materials that are vulnerable to water. In addition, brick and similar materials are often slightly water-permeable, and moisture will often readily seep into these materials through capillary action. Capillary action is a natural process by which liquids spread steadily through water-permeable materials.

When rainwater encounters these binding materials, acids and salts that are dissolved in the rainwater can liquefy the calcium carbonate and other materials found in brick and mortar. Through gravity and capillary action, these dissolved minerals can then penetrate through brick materials. When the water within this mineral-rich solution evaporates, it leaves behind salt deposits called efflorescence.

Efflorescence on walls can form both inside and on the surfaces of brick walls. If the salts associated with this problem accumulate in high enough levels they can then attract water molecules that can eventually rupture even the toughest brick structures.


Keep Your Brick-Built Property Efflorescence-Free

In situations where efflorescence is already present on brick structures, a number of effective remedies exist. Lightly pressure washing efflorescence on brick with approved commercial cleaning solutions is a common repair method. If property managers have no access to pressure washers, stiff brushes and efflorescent-cleaning products often work well.

Once every trace of efflorescence is removed from the surface, the brick can be repainted. They should ensure that the original source of moisture is removed if it is ground-based.

While efflorescence is hazardous to the health of brick structures, it is also preventable. Builders who are constructing brick structures can begin the protective process by keeping their materials dry during wall-building. Structures that builders have recently completed can be externally protected by hydrophobic, water-repellant sealants that penetrate deep within the porous structures of bricks and protect them from the inside out.

Efflorescence is indeed a potential hazard to brick and masonry-based buildings. The good news is, property managers who take simple precautions and use the appropriate cleaning, remediation, and protective products can keep efflorescence on walls at bay, and their properties healthy.


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