Basement Vapor Barriers: Why You May Need Them And Basic Maintenance

Basement insulation

When you waterproof your basement, you’re protecting your home from immediate and future damage. As such, it’s important to consider some waterproofing options that may be out of the box. Take vapor barriers, for example. Vapor barriers are long-lasting waterproofing solutions that, when cared for, can protect your home from moisture as well as mildew and mold.

What Is A Vapor Barrier?

You’re more likely to see a vapor barrier in someone’s crawl space than you are in their basement. These barriers are made out of a dense, plastic-like material. They’re woven together to not only keep water out of your home but most gases, including radon, as well. The vast majority of vapor barriers are also mold and mildew-proof, making them excellent additions to homes built in damper areas.

It doesn’t take a team of professionals long to install a vapor barrier in your home, no matter how large it may be. Most vapor barriers can be installed within a day or less, though costs will vary based on how much material contractors need to cover specific walls.

When Do You Need A Vapor Barrier?

Vapor barriers are among the more effective and long-lasting waterproofing solutions available to homeowners. You’ll want to try and talk to your local professionals about the potential for an install shortly after you move into a new home.

That said, if you notice signs of water damage in your new space, you’ll want to act a little more quickly than you would otherwise. Some symptoms worth looking out for include:

Can You Use A Vapor Barrier Outside Of Your Crawl Space?

As mentioned, vapor barriers appear in crawl spaces more often than they do in other parts of your home. That doesn’t mean, though, that you can’t use a vapor barrier to waterproof your basement. Vapor barriers, when paired with interior drainage systems, direct water away from your structural supports and belongings. In basements, they’ll do so just as well as they would in a crawl space.

However, basement-based vapor barriers also have aesthetic benefits. If you want to cover up cement blocks or water damage, you can use a vapor barrier to white out one of your basement walls. These barriers are long-lasting and tear-proof, making them exceptionally difficult to damage no matter how hard it rains.

Vapor Barrier Maintenance

Even though most vapor barriers are tear-proof, you’ll still need to conduct cursory maintenance if you want yours to continue working as it should. These means managing a yearly inspection either conducted by yourself or by one of the contractors who installed your barrier.

When you’re checking over your barrier on your own time, you’ll want to start by looking at the edges. Inspect the more delicate points of your barrier for tears or rot. Then, move inward. You should be able to identify any unusually damp spots by touch. If your vapor barrier does appear to be leaking, the materials may be wearing thin, or the wall that you’re protecting may have fallen victim to structural damage.

Finally, you’ll want to look over the supports keeping your vapor barrier in place. Make sure any staples are still clean and rust-free or that other materials haven’t fallen victim to water damage. A vapor barrier that’s started to come free of its wall isn’t one that’s going to protect your home for much longer.

Vapor Barriers Versus Waterproof Insulation

If you’re looking for a waterproofing measure that provides your home with a bit of insulation as well as protection, vapor barriers are the way to go. That said, you can always consider stacking a vapor barrier with waterproof insulation.

Waterproof insulation frequently comes with thermal properties. This allows it to help you maintain the temperature inside your home while also whisking water away. However, if you don’t take steps to actively maintain and replace your waterproof insulation, it can rapidly become a home for the mold and mildew particles you want to keep out of your home.

Vapor barriers, comparatively, don’t provide your basement with as much insulation. They will, however, still help you keep heat and cool air inside of your home while also keeping moisture out.

Want to talk to a professional about your waterproofing options? The foundation and basement repair contractors working in the St. Louis, MO area are more than ready to help you. You can invite them over for a home inspection and later benefit from a free quote on any services you may need in the future, including vapor barrier installation and maintenance.


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