Skip to Main Content
Crew on jobsite cutting boards

How to Check Your Basement Vapor barrier

Worried about the state of your basement's vapor barrier? Here’s how to maintain it and look for signs of failure


Shopping for basement waterproofing measures doesn’t have to be a complicated process. Something as universal as insulation can double-up to provide your basement with the temperature control and waterproofing protection it needs. With the right materials in place, you can retain your home’s value and preserve your quality of life. Pair improved insulation with a vapor barrier, and you can keep moisture out of your basement for a long time. 

That said, you do need to check on your basement insulation and vapor barriers regularly. If you rely on these materials without question, they may transform from a protective measure into a host for mold, mildew, and moisture.

Check your basement insulation

What Are Basement Vapor Barriers?

A vapor barrier is a large, plastic-like sheet that’s waterproof and is used to keep water out of an area. These are most commonly used for crawl space encapsulation. However, it’s also possible to use vapor barriers for basements, especially unfinished basements, as they’re an effective way to keep water out of the basement and therefore out of the rest of the house. 

Thick, durable 12-mil plastic vapor barriers are always going to be your best option, regardless of where you’re installing them. They can keep out water vapor, but also gases like radon, and they’re typically also mold and mildew-proof. It will typically take less than a day for a professional to come out and fit your basement with a vapor barrier, which will help a lot of problems that may otherwise arise from external moisture. 

The Benefits of Basement Vapor Barriers 

Vapor barriers are considered to be more traditional forms of basement waterproofing. These dense, plastic-like sheets are so tightly woven that they can keep most forms of gas out of your basement, not to mention water. 

Determining when to install a basement vapor barrier in your home doesn’t have to be a difficult task. First, wait until the professionals in your area have repaired any damage that’s appeared in your basement. Installing a vapor barrier before this point can shorten the lifespan of the barrier, no matter how well it’s made. Once the last of your repairs are finished, you can reach out to area professionals and determine whether or a vapor barrier in your home may prevent future damage. 

Professionals can install your new vapor barrier relatively quickly. They’ll need to measure out your basement first, making note of any utilities that you want to leave outside of a barrier’s range. While there are circumstances in which vapor barriers can cover your whole basement, this isn’t their traditional use. Instead, vapor barriers usually cover just the walls in your basement, sometimes only one or two walls. Covering the entirety of the area is known more commonly as basement encapsulation. 

Once professionals install your basement vapor barriers, you can rely on them to keep your home dry for between three and five years. You’ll want to schedule regular basement inspections, however, to make sure that your barriers continue to work as they’re supposed to. If you pair your basement vapor barrier with waterproof insulation or other home waterproofing measures, you can sometimes make them last a little longer than they might otherwise. 

When Do You Need a Basement Vapor Barrier? 

It’s usually best to install a basement vapor barrier early on, as the earlier you add a vapor barrier, the better. However, because some basements don’t need a vapor barrier, it’s also a good idea to just look for signs of water damage. Some common signs of water damage may include: 

If you notice any of these signs, you’ll need to contact an expert to discuss ways that you can get rid of the damage you’re experiencing in the basement. A vapor barrier may be the best way to fix the issues happening from the water damage. 

How to Inspect Your Basement for Insulation and Vapor Barrier Damage

Insulation and vapor barriers can end up failing, whether due to improper installation, damage, or just a length of time since the installation. You’re going to have to keep an eye on the materials you invest in if you want to keep your home as moisture-free as possible.  

Signs that your basement insulation and vapor barriers may no longer be doing their jobs include:   

  • Inconsistent temperatures throughout your home  
  • Increasing electric or heat bills  
  • Signs of seepage throughout your home  
  • Mildew or mold  
  • Standing water   

These signs don’t just indicate that something may be amiss in your basement. They can also indicate foundation damage. To determine what kind of conditions you’re dealing with, you can reach out to a Fargo, ND, foundation and basement repair professional for a home inspection and a free quote on services you may need to restore your quality of life.  

You don’t have to wait for a professional to start examining the insulation in your basement, though. If you want to take a look at what you’ve got on your own, the process typically involves the following steps:  

  • Find your insulation 
  • Check for a vapor barrier 
  • Classify your insulation 
  • Start looking for signs of dampness 
  • Look for damage outside of your home as well as throughout the rest of the building 

Fix Up Your Basement with Professional Help 

You don’t have to struggle while taking care of your basement. If you’re not sure where to start when it comes to installing insulation or a vapor barrier, or if you want to try and examine your insulation for the first time, the professionals at Innovative Basement Authority can help with a complimentary basement inspection.  

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Innovative Basement Authority Service Map

We service Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota and Eastern Montana for basement waterproofing and crawl space repair.

Fargo, ND

1330 41st St. N
Fargo, ND 58102

Minneapolis, MN

6265 Carmen Ave.
Inver Grove Heights, MN 55076

Rush City, MN

1325 S Frandsen Ave
Rush City, MN 55069

Sioux Falls, SD

101 S. Reid Street, Suite 307
Sioux Falls, SD 57103