Reddish brown wall growth not mold (C) Daniel Friedman Brown Mineral Efflorescence
Salt Deposits, Brown Bubbly Walls & Plaster - Diagnostic Photographs

  • EFFLORESENCE & BROWN DEPOSITS - CONTENTS: How to identify brown or reddish non[-fungal wall or ceiling stains, fluffy, crumbly, or bubbly material on building interior surfaces - mineral efflorescence is not mold.How to identify signs of moisture or water entry in buildings & signs of high moisture. Diagnosis of white or brown deposits on masonry chimneys. Although efflorescence and mineral salts left behind by water are not mold they mean that mold-friendly conditions are present in the building. Efflorescence = efflorescence if you're spelling efflorescence wrong.
  • POST a QUESTION or READ FAQs about the cause, cleanup, & prevention of brown or red stains & effloresence deposits on building surfaces

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Moisture & dark effloresence, stains, or "growths" on building surfaces:

Red or Brown Building Stains & Deposits that are not mold:.

Here we illustrate and explain the cause & cure of reddish brown or pale yellow bubbly surfaces on walls, especially masonry walls or on masonry chimneys, caused by leaks & moisture - efflorescence and sometimes creosote leaks.

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What is the Brown or Reddish Bubbly Stuff Found on Building Walls?

Effloresence (C) Daniel Friedman

When investigating a building for a mold problem, you can save mold test costs by learning how to recognize Stuff that is Not Mold or is only Harmless Mold but may be mistaken for more serious contamination - save your money.

Our photo at page top shows white fluffy crystals of mineral efflorescence near the bottom of a poured concrete foundation wall.

Because some clients have on occasion sent samples to our lab that really should not have been collected, much less looked-at, I provide this library of photographs of things that are "not mold" and don't need to be tested.

These are substances that you can easily learn to recognize in buildings.

Save your mold test money, and increase the accuracy of your mold contamination inspection or test for toxic or allergenic mold in buildings: review these items to learn recognize non-fungal materials or even possibly harmless cosmetic "black mold" often mistaken for "toxic fungal growth."

Reddish brown wall growth not mold (C) Daniel Friedman

These photos of ugly reddish brown and white bubbly "growth" on a wall were sent to us by a reader. This stuff looks like terrible mold but it's probably not mold at all. We won't know for sure without testing the material or inspecting the building.

But it sure looks like reddish-brown salts left behind by water and moisture passing through a masonry wall or a plaster wall, evaporating from the wall surface and leaving behind all of the crud that the moisture picked up from the wall itself as it passed through.

We often find this darker colored wall deposit on older buildings built of brick and stone whose interior wall surface is plaster applied directly to the masonry wall. We also often find this wall "growth" when water has been leaking in a plaster wall cavity. Plaster is so alkaline that it is not as friendly to mold growth - it's not "mold proof" as mold may grow on or in paint or even on or in organic material in or on the plaster.

More red stains found indoors are discussed at STAINS on INDOOR SURFACES, PHOTO GUIDE

What is Causing the Bubbling and Peeling of Paint on Foundation Walls?

Mineral salts and water pushing off paint (C) Daniel Friedman Mineral salts and water pushing off paint (C) Daniel Friedman

Take a look at this closeup (above left) of peeling paint on a foundation wall in a basement. The lumpiness of the surface tells us that this wall has been painted a number of times, painting over a rough concrete or concrete block surface.

In the center of the photograph (above left) you can see where paint is falling away and the gray concrete or concrete block is exposed. At the upper left corner especially you can see rounded bubbles of material that looks as if it is "growing" on this foundation wall.

Effloresence on masonry wall (C) DF S

The author's hand (photo above right) shows a combination of peeling paint, deteriorated masonry surface, and mineral salts all left behind as water and moisture have been passing through the building foundation. There is a water problem in this building and a moisture problem, but the stuff on the wall and in hand is not mold.

These pictures shows combination of peeling paint and yellowish-white mineral salts left behind as water is passing through this wall as moisture or as actual liquid water.

The moisture is both pushing paint off of the surface and also leaving behind salts of various minerals that were dissolved out of the wall as the moisture passed through it. When water evaporates from a surface it leaves behind minerals that were dissolved in it.

In our photo at above left we see bubbling paint and plaster on an interior wall surface - an indication of the "lift" power of the mineral crystalline salts formed as effloresence under a paint layer.

Diagnosis of White & Brown Stains on Brick or Concrete Block Chimneys

Chimney stains - white (C) Daniel Friedman Chimney stains - brown (C) Daniel Friedman

White powdery stuff appearing on a brick chimney may show up indoors or outside (photo above left). Brown stains leaking out of any chimney (photo above right), whether masonry or metal, may indicate a dangerous condition - prompt inspection is needed.

We find these stains on concrete block or "cinder block" chimneys as well, and occasionally on stone chimneys.

Brown stains on a chimney wall may also show up indoors or outside (photo above right). The brown stains are probably from creosote or soot washing out of the chimney interior flue and leaking into the attic through the chimney wall. This chimney needs immediate inspection and repair.

In either case we recommend that you promptly hire a professional chimney sweep to inspect the condition of the chimney including at the rooftop and inside the chimney flue. Water leaks into a masonry chimney can damage it and make it unsafe both structurally and with respect to leaking dangerous flue gases or even sparks that could cause a fire.


What Does it Mean to Find Efflorescence and Stains in a Building Interior?

Leaky wall and effloresence (C) Daniel Friedman

MOLD & HEALTH WARNING: although efflorescence is not mold, it often indicates wet conditions that cause problem mold growth elsewhere in the same building.

You'll need to identify the sources of moisture or leaks and correct them, and depending on other building air quality complaints or health concerns it may be appropriate to inspect and screen the building for problem mold or other moisture or water-related problems.

Where you find efflorescence in a building indoors, you should look for problem mold, allergens, bacteria. Look on organic surfaces - wood, paper, painted surfaces, insulation, fabrics, carpets, carpet padding, or in settled dust and debris.

In our photograph (above left) the client is pointing out that water has been entering this basement from the very top of the foundation wall (due to outside roof spillage and bad drainage) - we did not agree with the contractor who told her this was "rising damp" due to wet soils.

Remove & Prevent Effloresence on Building Surfaces & Materials

This discussion has moved to EFFLORESENCE REMOVAL & PREVENTION

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