A lot of homeowners are concerned about mold. Prolonged exposure to mold can make you sick, so it makes sense that if a homeowner suspects mold, they’re going to worry.
But sometimes what they think is mold, could be something called efflorescence. If you’re not sure if you’re dealing with mold – here are the key differences between mold and efflorescence.
What is Efflorescence?
Efflorescence is the residue that’s left behind when water seeps through concrete, stone, or brick. Its salt deposits leave a white residue that resembles mold. However, unlike mold, it won’t grow or spread, and isn’t a fungus. Commonly, it shows up as a white residue, but can vary depending on the material the water is moving through, and which chemicals the water carries.
Generally, efflorescence isn’t harmful to your health. However, if it’s showing up in your home, it could indicate that you’ve got a greater problem related to water and the way it moves through your home. If it’s moving in unintended ways, it could be getting places it shouldn’t. And that could lead to problems like mold down the line.
How to Tell The Difference
If you see the white stuff on anything other than concrete or types of masonry, it’s mold, and needs to be treated accordingly. That means if it covers an area of over 10 square feet – bring in a mold remediation specialist.
If the affected area is small, you can probably handle clean up yourself. Remember, bleach won’t effectively kill the mold spores – and if you don’t tackle the source of your water problem, you’ll have to deal with mold again and again.
But if you spot the stuff on your masonry, the trick is figuring out how to tell whether you’re dealing with mold or efflorescence. It’s pretty simple: spray it with a little water and wipe with a rag. If that takes care of it, that’s good news, because you’re not dealing with mold. If you still aren’t sure, it’s always a safe bet to call in an expert to test your home for mold.
It’s Mold. Now What?
If the mold area is small enough that you can handle clean up on your own, always wear protective gear. I mean your protective clothing, gloves, goggles, and respirators to ensure you’re not breathing in, or touching the spores.
You can treat your outdoor concrete or other masonry by using a deck wash. Using the hose-end sprayer, apply the wash liberally to your affected areas. Let it soak into the surface for about 5 minutes, but don’t allow the surface to dry. Scrub affected sections with a stiff bristle brush or broom. Then simply rinse the section thoroughly using the ‘Rinse’ setting on the wash sprayer.
If any tough, embedded stains remain, apply a mold eraser. It’s no scrub solution will help lift out that staining, without discoloring the surface of the stone.
If you find that white stuff on your concrete, don’t panic just yet. It may not be mold that you’re dealing with. If you’re dealing with efflorescence, you can clean it up easily – but make sure you monitor the situation carefully – if water is working in mysterious ways in your home, you will want to take care of the situation before you end up with mold.