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Ask the Expert Question-and-Answer Archive

by Ron Joseph

May, 2004


Q. I have an old (1917) house, with a brick basement. My basement has a constant effusion of efflorescence, besides keeping the water draining away from the house, is there anything I can "paint" on it to neutralize the white stuff? Is the only way to stop it by digging around the outside and sealing it? Is it damaging my foundation since the grout and brick seem to be slowly crumbling away? Is the solution horribly expensive? Are there any preventative methods? Thank you very much!!

A. Sweep the surface of the bricks with a stiff brush to remove the accumulated dust and dirt. Wash the bricks with a mild solution of muriatic acid (a dilute solution of hydrochloric acid), rinse with fresh water and allow to dry for several days.

If you wish to coat the bricks to seal out water transmission, apply the water proof paint and follow the manufacturers instruction. There are several suppliers of water proof coatings; one that comes to mind is US Gilsonite, US Paint Co.

The acid wash should be handled with care, safety glasses, gloves, etc. It can get messy and may be worth while to hire a mason or brick layer to help out.

Acid etching: You MUST insure that you are properly protected with goggles, acid-resistant gloves and proper clothing so that you don't injure yourself. For similar reasons, please insure that you keep others away from this process.

Best regards,

Tom Burke

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