Does Foundation Waterproofing Degrade Over Time?

September 6, 2023

Sharing is caring!

crawl space waterproofing lansing

Having a sound foundation is critical for any building or home. The foundation bears the entire load of the structure and transmits it safely to the soil. Any faults or weaknesses in the foundation can lead to serious structural issues.

So, does foundation waterproofing degrade over time? It can. Depending on the material used, quality of installation, site conditions, and maintenance, with higher-end systems lasting 30+ years, lower-grade coatings may need replacing in 10 years or less.

One key aspect of a robust foundation is proper waterproofing. Waterproofing prevents moisture from seeping into the foundation and causing damage. However, some homeowners wonder - Is waterproofing a permanent solution? Will it need to be reapplied or replaced at some point?

How Waterproofing Works

Before examining whether waterproofing degrades, it helps to understand what foundation waterproofing is and how it works.

There are two main approaches to waterproofing a foundation:

  • Tanking - This involves applying a membrane or coating to the exterior of the foundation walls. Popular tanking materials include asphalt, tar, rubberized asphalt, and plastic sheeting. The membrane acts as a barrier to keep water out.
  • Drainage - Drainage systems use gravel, drainage matting, or perforated pipe to channel water away from the foundation. Water is directed to a sump pump system and pumped away from the building.

Both tanking and drainage systems create a protective layer that prevents moisture from passing through the foundation walls and reaching the interior. When installed correctly, waterproofing can keep a foundation bone dry.

installing a french drain

Does Foundation Waterproofing Degrade Over Time? Factors That Impact Durability

There are several factors that influence how long foundation waterproofing will last before needing repair:

  • Type of material - Some waterproofing materials are more durable and long-lasting than others. For example, HDPE and EPDM plastic sheets can last 50+ years, while some asphalt coatings may only last 10-15 years. The type of material impacts longevity.
  • Quality of installation - A poorly installed waterproofing system will often fail prematurely. Proper surface prep, following manufacturer specifications, and attention to detail all determine how long the waterproofing will last.
  • Foundation composition - Waterproofing applied to a concrete foundation will generally last longer than a block foundation, which is more porous. The condition and composition of the foundation affect durability.
  • Site conditions - The amount of groundwater, soil type, slope drainage, and other site factors impact the water pressure acting on the foundation. Greater hydrostatic pressure shortens waterproofing life.
  • Maintenance - Regular maintenance checks and repairing minor defects as they appear to extend the usable life of the waterproofing. Lack of maintenance leads to earlier failure.

basement waterproofing tools lansing

Signs of Deterioration

There are a few key signs that indicate foundation waterproofing is failing and needs replacement:

  • Visible cracks or breaches - Open cracks, bubbles, and breaches allow water to penetrate the membrane. Seepage through the walls indicates waterproofing failure.
  • Interior moisture - If there is efflorescence (white powder), mold, or standing water inside against the foundation, moisture is passing through.
  • Higher humidity - Increased humidity levels in the basement can imply moisture is migrating through.
  • Musty odors - A persistent musty, earthy smell suggests excess moisture and drainage issues.
  • Compromised drainage - Poor flow through drain tiles or a malfunctioning sump pump prevents proper drainage.
  • Settling or cracks - Foundation settling, wall cracks and stone pops can open pathways for water to infiltrate if not sealed.

Any of these signs means the waterproofing requires replacement or extensive repairs.

does foundation waterproofing degrade over time

Typical Lifespan

How many years does waterproofing last? There is quite a broad range:

  • Sheet membranes = 50+ years
  • Rubberized asphalt = 20-30 years
  • Asphalt coatings = 10-12 years
  • Acrylic paints = 4-8 years

High-quality sheet systems and rubberized asphalt provide the greatest longevity. Lower-cost asphalt and acrylic coatings tend to have a shorter lifespan before requiring renewal.

Much depends on the specific product used, quality of installation, and how well the waterproofing is maintained. Well-installed sheet membranes or high-end rubberized asphalt systems can last 30-50 years or more. Lower-grade materials may only provide effective waterproofing for 8-10 years.

does foundation waterproofing degrade over time

Preventing Early Failure

Here are some tips that can maximize the lifespan of your foundation waterproofing:

  • Have drainage addressed - Improve site, roof, and gutter drainage to divert water away from the foundation.
  • Fix cracks - Seal all foundation cracks and repair deteriorated mortar joints before applying waterproofing.
  • Choose quality materials - Spend a little more for robust membrane sheets or advanced rubberized asphalt rather than basic asphalt coatings.
  • Hire a professional certified installer - Their expertise helps ensure a seamless and long-lasting waterproofing job.
  • Keep areas well-ventilated - Improve airflow to prevent humidity buildup against the waterproofed walls.
  • Conduct annual inspections - Inspect the system each year and fix any vulnerable points. Catch problems early.
  • Repair promptly - As soon as leaks or seepage occur, thoroughly repair them to prevent bigger issues.

basement waterproofing lansing

Signs It's Time to Replace

If your foundation waterproofing is showing multiple signs of failure, it's time to consider full replacement:

  • Ongoing leaks through walls and persistent interior dampness
  • Large cracks, blisters, or breaches in the membrane
  • Extensive repairs needed across the foundation due to deterioration
  • Drainage channels no longer carry water away effectively
  • Groundwater entering through floor cracks despite waterproofing
  • Musty odor and high humidity against foundation walls
  • Interior efflorescence or mold growth near basement walls

Complete replacement is called for if the waterproofing is compromised across large areas of the foundation. Localized repairs may temporarily fix issues, but correcting widespread deterioration requires the installation of an entirely new system.

how does concrete lifting work

Seek Professional Assessment

If your waterproofing shows signs of aging, get an expert assessment before assuming total replacement is needed. An experienced foundation contractor can inspect the system and determine if selective repairs and maintenance will extend its usefulness. They may recommend applying a supplemental membrane over the old coating rather than a costlier full replacement.

Get a professional waterproofing inspection before problems intensify. A small investment in targeted renovations can add decades of life to an existing system.


Foundation waterproofing can last for many years, even several decades, with proper installation and maintenance. Higher-quality materials like thick membrane sheets, advanced rubberized asphalt coatings, and well-designed drainage systems provide the greatest durability. Lower-grade asphalt paints and coatings tend to have a shorter lifespan.

Notice signs like interior moisture, foul odors, and cracks or breaches, and repair promptly. Conducting annual inspections and fixing vulnerabilities early maximizes the lifespan of your waterproofing. With careful maintenance and attention, you can keep your foundation dry and protected.

About Lansing Foundation Repair Experts

Lansing Foundation Repair Experts is your trusted local contractor for all foundation problems. With over 20 years of experience, our expert team provides high-quality waterproofing, repair, and stabilization using advanced techniques. We offer free inspections and quotes. Call us today at (517) 296-6174!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram