Is a concrete foundation in trouble if it becomes discolored in several places?

- Tuesday, January 23, 2024

So your concrete foundation wall or floor has become discolored in several places.  Are you looking at an expensive repair bill or is this really nothing to worry about?  The Crack Daddy explains.

Narrator: It’s time once again for the “Crack Man Podcast” hosted by A1 Foundation Crack Repair. I’m Darren Kincaid here with the Crack Daddy himself, Adam Tracy. Adam and The Crack Man Rich have over 30 years’ experience in the construction industry. Rich as over two5 years as the president and founder of A1 Foundation Crack Repair. This podcast provides expert basement waterproofing, concrete repair, and preventative maintenance tips for homeowners and businesses. A1 Foundation’s valuable insight will help avert a disastrous flood within the basement, health problems associated with water infiltration, and protect your biggest investment….your home. The topic of today’s podcast: Is a concrete foundation in trouble if it becomes discolored in several places?

Narrator: So, Adam, we've been doing this podcast for nearly a decade. Now, all that time, I don't think we've ever talked about discolored concrete. What can you tell us about it? Adam: Well, this is actually a very topical conversation because we had an inquiry come in, just the other day, from a couple who was looking at a house in Sudbury, and walking around the foundation downstairs, in the basement, they noticed that there was a lot of discoloration in the concrete. Mostly, there was a lot of shadowing and different colors throughout there, not like reds and greens and blues, but different colors, gray is in different hues of grays, and they got concerned that there might be something wrong with the concrete. And when we reviewed the project with them and we reviewed some of the photos and videos that they had sent over, what we found was that, well, it's not actually a problem in this. So, what causes concrete to be discolored? Well, the number one thing that we see with discoloration is some, either white chalkiness or potentially, a kind of pinkish hue, typically forming in the corners or around the bottom where the floor and the wall meet. That's a telltale sign of efflorescence. We've talked about efflorescence in a lot of podcasts and blog posts here, where it is the salts and minerals of the concrete getting pushed to the interior surface because of hydrostatic pressure. And by itself, it's just, kind of, what we call the dandruff of concrete. It is a benign issue. It does indicate that there is some water or moisture present on the opposite side, but unless you're seeing the water coming in or you're having issues with the concrete where there's excessive spalling or pitting at the concrete, in general, that discoloration is something that can be resolved with either some sealants or some sprays and just wire brushing it off.

That's primarily what we deal with when we see discoloration here. The other time we see a lot of discoloration is what people we are concerned like, mold and they have really dark patches. And usually, that is water actually coming in, or in some cases, especially with summer months, excessive humidity and condensation building up on the walls. So, usually we'll see this in corners where you have the 3 cold concrete services, and they often leave windows or doors open for the basement. So, you have a cold interior, warm moist exterior, and you have condensation building up there, and it will just color that concrete, kind of, more into the blackish color hues that you'll see most typically, are in the corners. In the case that we received the other day, it was actually just, kind of, gray discoloration, looked like streaks everywhere, pockmarks everywhere. And walking around the foundation, it does look a little concerning because it's not actually a uniform color, but concrete never actually is one uniform color. There's always some variations even within the same mixture because it is a mixture of lots of different natural materials.

It does have natural variations throughout the foundation. In this case, it was actually the chemicals that they used to break the forms off of the concrete when it's poured. And so there was some level of chemical residue left on there, and it actually caused this permanent staining to the concrete. So, you could see where there were knots in the form wood and also some of the grain patterns in the form wood there. And while it looked very, kind of, curious and concerning. It was really just the chemicals that they used to make sure it unsticks from the concrete when they break anything off, and it doesn't throw pieces of concrete out. So, in this case, it was just a very simple explanation. They were able to calm the fears of potential homebuyers that this isn't a structural issue. It isn't a chemical imbalance issue, it's really just when they cored the foundation or placed the foundation, that it was a discoloration from that process.

The other time that we see a lot of discoloration in concrete would be when we see a lot of, like, horizontal lines. Not necessarily a crack, but they'll see, like, this horizontal pattern that, kind of, goes up and down, kind of, like a natural wave pattern through the concrete. And typically, that's going to be two separate pours of concrete where one truck finished filling some of the forms, and then the truck number two is, kind of, a little bit farther behind. So, that top level of concrete starts to set up a little bit, and they pour the blue concrete over the top. You have a little bit of discoloration along that seam there. And then the top and bottom might have different colors just because, again, you have two different mixes of concrete. These are all natural things that happen with most foundations, you see it all the time. But for somebody who's new to concrete, looking at concrete walls, you've been making a large purchase for the first time, buying a home. They might be a little concerned about what these are and if they're a big issue because it is your biggest investment that you’ll probably make in your life, is buying a new home. So, absolutely, make sure you take note of these areas. Feel free to consult a concrete contractor and/or a foundation expert like us because a lot of times these things can be simply explained. And if it can't be explained, sometimes there's a reason why, or there are some issues that we have to resolve. But more often than not, discoloration in the concrete isn't always a show stopper. Usually, there's a simple explanation for it. Narrator: Well, thanks, Adam, for explaining why concrete can get discolored at times, but it's really nothing to be worried about. But if you do have a question, talk to a professional.

Narrator: If you have a basement water problem and think you need a professional, or, if you’d like more information on foundation crack repair and basement waterproofing topics, please visit or call Rich at (866) 92 9-3171. Or you can email Rich at Thanks for listening and keep that basement dry.

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A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.

Toll Free: 866-929-3171

Call Us Today at 866-929-3171

A-1 Foundation Crack Repair, Inc. is a fully registered home improvement contractor. Contact us today to talk to a knowledgeable, master waterproofing professional.