Deterioration from salt

I recently did an inspection and referred to a specialist (PE)

The garager had water staining throughout & I couldnt determine the source.
The adjacent wall in the basement had an area of staining and an area of deterioration.

You cant see the deterioration in the block in the photo. But if the inside block was deteriorating I would think the outside block was more deteriorated then the inside.

The PE said it was from the salt from the cars staining the wall & didnt recommend anything.

My question is that yes this sounds logical. Where is the water coming in from?

The owner stated from under the door.

I recommended that a skirt drain be installed in front of the door.



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Hi. Dave;

Excuse my French, but I would be more concerned with those 1/4"+ cracks in the slab than the discoloration.
Any PE that would tell you that the walls were stained from salt from the cars, had no clue as to what he was looking at, Sorry.

The block walls are showing signs of water and moisture migration from the outside and you can tell by some of the block cells that have not absorbed as much as others and that is why you see some lighter shades in spots.

The slab is indicating excessive shrinkage which would tell me that the wire mesh that was supposed to have been in the top two/thirds of the slab is resting on the ground and the slump of this piss poor concrete of 2500 or 3000PSI concrete at best was about 6- 7" slump. The improper installation of control joints and/or saw cuts to control shrinkage in a more fashionable way was also not implemented.

Since it is likely that the slab concrete was not sealed properly to fight the moisture and salt use infiltration over time, it is possible that the oil drips and salt concentrations created some of these stains.

Hope this helps.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:


The PE that analyzed this is one of the more repitable PE’s in the area.

I personally thought the salt diagnosis that he indicated was not what I suspected.

I am a home inspector & he holds the PE qualifications.

All he talked about was salt from the cars. I am thinking like you. The cracks & deteroration in the block.



I think we are on the same page.
Keep up your intuition, good job.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

It’s pretty common for road salt laden snow packed onto the wheel wells and underside of a vehicle to melt once the vehicle is inside the garage with the overhead door closed … at least around my neck of the woods. So that may make sense if the wall staining was directly adjacent to the garage, and not in other areas.

Is that an inoperative/clogged floor drain in the middle of the garage slab?

Although it may not be required from a structural point of view, I would probably say at least the cracking should be repaired/sealed, and the drain repaired. If the driveway pitches towards the vehicle door, with a decent flow that may exceed the capacity of what appears to be a small floor drain, then a trench drain in front of the garage could also help. But I would try fixing the drain and repairing/sealing the cracks as a first step.

JMO & 2-nickels … :wink:

I am in a part of the continent where probably the most road salt is used, you just have to look at our cars or whats left of them, and I have never seen road salt staining walls.
And your French is excused.
Votre français est excusé.

Merci beaucoup.


You may be in a much colder region where garage temperatures are not above outside temperatures enough to repeatedly melt that packed snow on your vehicle. I see puddles of melted snow in garages around here all there time … and similar adjacent foundation leaks sometimes too.

And most garages are sloped to the overhead door, and not to what appears to be a center low point drain in the middle of the slab. Not to mention the size of the open/unsealed cracks that is like a water pipe to the foundation for any melted snow.

JMO & 2-nickles.

Water, can-could enter into the hollow blocks from ‘above-ground-openings’…cant tell from Pics whether or not the ‘TOP’ blocks are stained.

But, if they are AND, the TOP of blocks are ‘above ground level’ then, there IS a problem/opening(s) etc from…that point UP.

See this fairly often, staining up-high on block walls due to openings etc above ground inclg openings where garage roof/flashing and house meet, open mortar joint(s) just above gar.roof and any others inclg windows/screened windows-have seen 2nd floor-upstairs window be the problem, so its not necessarily ???salt from cars???/driveway, again, can`t tell from pics.

There IS a way to find out, if you want…now, you-others may not like this approach for other reasons BUT, if one wants to know for certain then, this is one way ta go…

Move whatever crap in garage outta the way that they/you dont want to get wet, run a hose/water test, yup...thats right, on the outside on this stained area inside. IF, i say IF, the top or near top of block wall-any part of wall begins to get damp/wet/stained while you are soaking along ground level-garage floor then, there IS an opening/crack etc BELOW ground on outside of HOLLOW-block wall.That still doesnt entirely rule out a potential problem above grade/ground. Any-all openings need to be correctly sealed, below & above ground, do the TOP crs. of blocks extend UP-over ground level or not?

If it does NOT get damp/wet/stained after running hose-water for say, about 30-45 minutes then most likely, the problem…opening(s) are ABOVE the garage roof, yup, no chtt! :mrgreen:

If/when there is a crack on Outside of hollow block wall then, radon gas can enter through this crack and so can insects, This is why its always BEST to first correctly DEFINE what the problem(s) is and, it seems you wont be able to attain that by simply looking or like youve already tried, having a PE… ‘look’. Raising the grade/extending downspouts 1 mile away from a corner,mudjacking slab etc does Not seal these openings that allow water/radon/insects etc to enter, never has `n never will.

PE said they think discolorment-staining from ‘salt’ ? Well, sure appears its MORE than that, water/moisture and not so much ‘salt’. Is there efflorescence on this part of basement wall? Sheesh,if so, this has nothing to do with ‘salt’ from cars, what a crock. lol

And yeah to those who scoff at the water test, i sure the heck have done em in garage and, homeowners were very happy to…FINALLY get problem correctly defined `n then fixed.

As much as I hate to agree with Mr. Bubber, he is right and have seen this type of scenario in the past.

Most likely than not, the efflorescence seen is caused by water intrusion from the Exterior and not from the road salt from the car. No brainier for me coming from Northern Maine where salt use is excessive and water proofing is a required

Road salt from cars do not climb walls, but would under certain occasions wet the first layer of block from wicking action.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I refferred to a engineer & he said it was from salt. I have my doubts but he is the so called expert.

Hi. David;

In today’s World, you can question anything you want.
In my World of Commercial Building, questioning Engineers, is done on a Daily basis. You would be surprised at the conclusions.

Just because someone has a license, dose not mean it is the Gospel Truth.
Follow your instincts, and usually, that will guide you well.

Marcel:) :slight_smile:

with all due respect to engineers, they are not the experts when it comes to basement walls-waterproofing. Walls that leak, have mold-efflorescence on em etc.

doesnt it make a bit more sense that, those who do basement waterproofing and SEE the inside & outside of tens of thousands of walls-cracks etc would have more insight as to where/how water may be entering,why efflorescence etc is on the wall? so, any Inside water-diverting company doesnt have a clue as to what is on the outside of walls, how water can easily enter direct-openings on the Outside of a house `n cause all different kinds of wall discolorment.They could give less than 2 craps about that, all they do-care about is water-diverting, trying to keep water off the basement floor, not much if any thought as to where its entering…no thought into the real potential for mold to grow due to, allowing the penetration of water/moisture…got milk?

and Marcel…how could it be we agree on something? :-k :mrgreen:

The cracks appear to be in a “floating,” non-bearing slab, which wouldn’t bother me. However, I always ere on the side of caution, and recommend that my clients have a specialist confirm my opinion.

John, I must have been in an agreeing mode of some sort, I do not know what would have overtaken my righteous mind. ha. ha.

Marcel :slight_smile: :slight_smile:

I guess some of you guys missed the part where I indicated I have seen almost exactly the same situation first hand, and it was indeed from melting road salt laden snow with a cracked garage slab. Fixed the cracks and the problem was solved. In another case the slab was pitched towards the house, so for a winter they didn’t park the car in the garage, and again the problem “mysteriously” disappeared. Really depends on local conditions and winter temperatures to be sure.

With foundation water penetration about 9 times out of 10 foundation waterproofing or footing drain systems are not needed … just good roof drainage and grade/slab integrity and pitch away from the house. In fact it’s my opinion that footing drains actually draw water towards a foundation, which is more likely to cause leaks.

I would bet the family summer home upstate that if ya fixed the slab cracks and drainage in that garage the problem would “mysteriously” disappear … that is if I had a family summer home upstate … :wink: