Skip to Main Content

Exterior Basement Waterproofing: Why It Doesn’t Always Work

While you can waterproof your basement from the outside, certain solutions fail over time, leading to leaks, damage, and costly repairs. This article explains why exterior basement waterproofing doesn’t work and explores effective alternatives.

Your key takeaway: don’t rely on exterior systems; trust local basement waterproofing experts to install interior solutions for lasting protection.

Exterior Basement Waterproofing During Construction

applying damp proofing for exterior basement waterproofing

Let’s start at the beginning—when your home was built. During the construction of homes and basements, it is common practice to implement exterior waterproofing measures to help prevent water from the surrounding soil from seeping inside.

This typically involves applying a tar coating—also known as damp proofing—to the exterior walls, as well as installing drainage pipes surrounded by rock and gravel next to the foundation footer.

As long as these systems remain undamaged, they can be effective in helping to keep your basement dry.

When Exterior Basement Waterproofing Fails

Over time, these exterior waterproofing measures can fail. This is a distinct possibility in older homes throughout Pennsylvania.

The tar coating can wear away, and the buried drainage pipes can become clogged with roots or debris or be crushed by the weight of the surrounding soil. This is especially true in areas rich with clay and other expansive soils.

While repairing these systems is possible, it’s not effective. Exterior waterproofing solutions often require extensive excavation. This can lead to significant damage to attached features of your home, such as porches, decks, landscaping, driveways, sidewalks, and air conditioning units.

Due to the extensive nature of excavation involved, exterior waterproofing tends to be a more costly option.

Additionally, to remain effective, drainage tiles must remain free from obstructions or clogs, and exterior drainage tiles are highly prone to clogging over time. If they clogged once, odds are they will clog again.

Telltale signs that these exterior measures are no longer functioning effectively include leaking walls and water seeping through the cove joint where the wall and floor meet.

Other Exterior Water Management Considerations

gutter and downspout installation is part of exterior basement waterproofing

While exterior waterproofing solutions may not always be effective, it’s crucial to consider other exterior systems that play a vital role in managing water around your home. Your home’s gutters and downspouts serve as the first line of defense against excess water from sources like rainfall and snowmelt, preventing it from reaching your basement.

Maintaining these systems is essential. Inspecting and cleaning your gutters is recommended at least twice a year, typically in the spring and fall seasons. Keeping your gutters and downspouts free from clogs, debris, and damage, such as holes, is crucial for effective water management.

Downspouts, as well as the surrounding landscape, should be angled downward and away from your home to ensure proper drainage.

When exterior water management systems function optimally, you can significantly reduce the risk of water infiltration into your basement. Regular maintenance and proper grading around your home’s perimeter can work in tandem with interior waterproofing solutions to provide comprehensive protection against water-related issues.

The Advantages of Interior Basement Waterproofing

While exterior waterproofing systems have their place and can be effective in some cases, the potential for collateral damage, high costs, and the risk of future clogging highlight the importance of exploring alternative solutions.

Interior basement waterproofing provides a more practical, effective, and long-lasting solution. Here’s why:

  • Less invasive installation methods
  • Not exposed to the elements
  • Extended lifespan

It’s also important to distinguish between systems designed for long-term waterproofing and temporary fixes that are not recommended.

Interior Waterproofing Methods to Avoid

You’ve probably seen ads and videos for materials available online and in big-box stores marketed as “waterproof.” Products such as “waterproof” paints, sealants, epoxy injections, and similar DIY solutions are not designed for long-lasting waterproofing.

These products are temporary fixes that merely cover up cosmetic damage without addressing the root cause of the problem. Ultimately, they will fail and allow water intrusion to continue, requiring repeated application with no guarantee of a dry basement.

Overall, we don’t recommend DIY waterproofing attempts.

The best approach is to invest in professional interior waterproofing solutions installed by an experienced professional. At Baker’s Waterproofing, our team of experts is dedicated to providing long-term, reliable solutions tailored to your specific basement waterproofing needs.

Trusted Interior Basement Waterproofing Solutions

Every home is unique, and so are its basement waterproofing needs. Our team at Baker’s Waterproofing understands the challenges homeowners in Pennsylvania face. We prioritize your home’s safety, which is why we offer free inspections to identify the root cause of your basement problems and recommend solutions tailored to your specific repair needs.

Here are some of the interior basement waterproofing solutions our team may recommend:

installing basement wall vapor barrier

Wall Vapor Barrier

A vapor barrier attached to your basement walls effectively prevents moisture and water intrusion. Should any water seep through the walls, it will flow behind this mold and water-resistant barrier, diverting down to the interior drainage system installed in the floor.

installing interior basement drainage

Interior Drainage System

Particularly when exterior footing drains are ineffective, water often infiltrates the cove joint where the wall meets the floor. Our interior drainage system is designed to combat this issue comprehensively. Positioned just beneath the basement floor and above the footing, our specially designed perforated pipes intercept seeping water and channel it efficiently into a sump pump system.

sump pump installed in basement

Sump Pump System

Housed within a sealed basin in the floor, our diverse range of sump pump systems gathers water from the perimeter interior drainage system. This collected water is then expelled from the basement and directed away from the property through discharge pipes. Additionally, we provide a battery backup system to ensure your basement remains dry and secure, even during power outages.

basement dehumidifier

Energy-Efficient Dehumidifier

To combat excessive moisture and humidity—which can foster mold growth and other issues—we advise the installation of a dehumidifier. Our units are not only powerful and energy-efficient but also self-draining, eliminating the need for manual bucket emptying. They maintain safe and healthy humidity levels and improve the air quality throughout your basement and home.

Trust Baker’s Waterproofing for Effective Basement Waterproofing Solutions

If you’re still uncertain about the best way to waterproof your basement, don’t worry. Baker’s Waterproofing professionals take the guesswork out of the process with thorough inspections, diagnoses, and recommendations.

Get started with permanently waterproofing, repairing, and protecting your basement today. Contact us to schedule a free inspection and obtain a no-obligation estimate. We look forward to helping you create a safe, dry, and healthy living environment!


Tree roots can grow into and clog exterior drain tiles and can also crack or dislodge waterproof coatings applied to foundation walls.

Interior systems are less invasive, more cost-effective, and easier to maintain than exterior drainage solutions. They’re designed to address water issues from the inside, providing a reliable method for basement waterproofing.

The installation process for interior waterproofing from Baker’s is minimally disruptive compared to exterior work, requiring only minor jackhammering in the basement.

Holly Richards-Purpura

Holly Richards-Purpura

Content Writer

Holly is a Content Writer for Groundworks who has written and edited web content for the foundation services industry for almost 10 years. With a background in journalism, her passion for the written word runs deep. Holly lives in Columbus, OH, with her husband. Along with educating homeowners, she also has a big heart for the Big Apple.

Related Resources

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

Baker's Waterproofing Service Areas

Our Locations

Central PA

3819 N Susquehanna Trail
Shamokin Dam, PA  17876


922 North 3rd Street
Harrisburg, PA 17102


701 North Hermitage Rd, Suite 25,
Hermitage, PA 16148


5 Industrial Road, Building B
Washington, PA 15301

Wilkins Township

201 Penn Center Blvd Suite 400

Wilkins Township, PA 15235

York, PA

800 E King St, Suite 518
York, PA 17402