By Gene and Katie Hamilton
If you have a brick house or fireplace with blotchy white spots, it's probably efflorescence, a condition that develops when moisture from within the bricks rises to the surface and evaporates. The residue is a deposit of mineral salts that looks like a white powdery substance. Since the cause of the efflorescence is excessive moisture behind the brick, first find its source and correct the problem. It might be a leaky gutter or loose downspout that allows rain to run down the brick. Or it may be as simple as adding caulk around doors and windows to prevent the moisture.
A handyman or house cleaning service will charge $143 to remove efflorescence from a150-square-foot area, which includes the labor and material. You can remove the substance for $20, the cost of a clear water sealer, and save 86 percent. You need a stiff bristle wire brush and a garden hose or power washer to scrub the surface; then apply a clear water sealer to protect the bricks. And take precautions to protect the plantings around it by covering them with a drop cloth.
If the efflorescence is located on bricks on the second story of your house, we think it's definitely a job for a service who has a crew with ladders and the experience to work on them. If the white blotches are only on the first floor and easy to reach, it's a doable job for a homeowner.
The Masonry Institute explains The Cause and Control of Efflorescence.
Looking for a handyman to do the job? Click
Home Advisor, a free referral service that matches homeowners with local prescreened contractors.
Wrapping up, given the average cost to remove brick efflorescence you can compare the price of a contractor’s bid with doing it yourself. For a local cost input your ZIP Code.
Improvement and Repair Cost Updated 2020