Foundation Drainage and Moisture Barriers

Print this articleControlling moisture in the home is a critical part of effective home maintenance, essential for avoiding problems that are costly, frustrating and potentially unsafe for your family. Your home's foundation is the site of many moisture problems, particularly if your home is built on very moist and poorly drained soil. You can, however, avoid these problems through the use of moisture barriers and other moisture control measures.

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Choose the materials for your vapor or moisture barrier wisely. All construction materials have varying degrees of resistance to moisture and vapor, but only those with very high resistance should be used for a moisture barrier. For a foundation vapor barrier, the most commonly used materials are heavy asphalt-laminated films, roll roofing and heavy polyethylene film.


Install the moisture barrier on the warm side of the foundation, never on the cold side, as this will diminish its ability to resist moisture flow. For concrete foundations, an effective method is to place a layer of gravel and a layer of polyethylene film underneath the concrete foundation.


Use other construction techniques to increase the foundation's ability to resist moisture flow. When used in conjunction with a vapor barrier, techniques such as grading the ground to slope away from foundation walls and directing water from rain gutter downspouts away from the foundation can go a long way in preventing moisture problems in your home's foundation.

ReferencesEnvironmental Protection Agency: Controlling MoistureUniversity of Georgia Extension: Moisture Control in HomesU.S. Department of Energy: Slab-on-Grade Foundation Moisture and Air Leakage ControlRead Next:

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