One of the most frustrating aspects of a basement, even when it’s finished properly, is the sheer volume of moisture that builds up throughout the year. Because of the natural properties of changing temperatures, the shift in indoor and outdoor environments will cause condensation in your basement which can be damaging not only to your home but to the items you store there.
A moisture barrier is designed to block and redirect moisture away from the things you care about. By keeping moisture outside of your basement, a moisture barrier blocks the buildup of condensation on your basement floor.
Signs You Need a Moisture Barrier
Not everyone needs a moisture barrier. Some basements are better insulated than others. However, if you notice that your basement undergoes a severe shift in humidity and condensation as the weather changes, you should act quickly before it causes damage.
Specifically, look for symptoms that your basement has too much moisture. Rust on your appliances is a big sign of excess moisture, especially above the ground where standing water might occur. Another symptom is mold growing on the wood frames of windows or underneath stairs. If you notice damp spots on foundation walls or peeling paint these are also signs of excess moisture in your basement.
Installing a Moisture Barrier
You now know if you have a moisture problem, but how do you fix it? A moisture or vapor barrier can get the job done. While no moisture barrier is 100% impermeable, they will generally stop most of the moisture that passes from outside to inside when temperatures vary significantly. The type of material used will vary depending on the level of moisture problem you have. Aluminum, plastic, asphalt and metallized film all work well for this.
Beyond a moisture barrier, you can take other actions to stop condensation in your basement. If you keep the air moving, it will reduce a lot of the moisture build up. Moving air with fans in your basement keeps moisture from settling and creating problems. You can also improve your insulation so that temperature is better regulated inside your home.
Moisture barriers are a great tool for stopping damage in your basement. This is only for condensation, however. Make sure, if you have a more severe water problem in your basement that you look into the installation of a French drain, sump pump, or drain tile system.