Skip to Main Content

What Is a High Water Table?

standing water in lawn

Despite building design and construction advancements, high water tables remain a significant challenge for homeowners. When the water table lies above the crawl space or basement floor level, it can become problematic, as groundwater infiltration causes significant water damage and structural issues.

Get the facts about high water tables on this page.

A High Water Table: What is it?  

high water table in grassy lawn

A high water table refers to the level in the ground where soil and rock become saturated with water. The depth of the water table varies from a few feet to much deeper, depending on the location. Excess rainwater or water from higher elevations can contribute to a high water table. These conditions are common in low-lying areas with poorly drained soils. Even areas with normal water tables can experience seasonal rises, leading to potential flooding.

Water Table Variations 

Water tables vary depending on the season and geological formations. Here are the two water table variations:

water accumulation under house

Perched Water Tables

Perched water tables can be temporary or permanent and occur when an impermeable soil layer traps groundwater above the main water table. They may fluctuate seasonally or persist depending on water source and drainage, happening even in high-ground areas where trapped water saturates the soil.

snow mound in yard

Seasonal High Water Tables

During spring, snowmelt and increased rainfall can naturally raise the water table. This may not be a problem unless the water doesn’t drain properly due to soil composition or inadequate drainage systems.

How Does a High Water Table Affect Your Home?

A high water table impacts your home and foundation in the following ways:  

hydrostatic pressure bowed basement walls
  • Foundation Shift: A high water table near the surface can cause hydrostatic pressure against foundation walls, potentially leading to cracks, leaks, or foundation movement. This pressure can force water through cracks or pores in the foundation, causing wall and slab cracks and shifts.
  • Humidity Issues: A high water table can increase moisture levels in the basement or crawl space, creating ideal conditions for mold growth, wood rot, and rust on metal components. Over time, this excess moisture compromises the structural integrity of your basemen or crawl space and home.

The severity of problems caused by a high water table depends on its height, the foundation type, and soil conditions, making proper foundation waterproofing crucial for preventing these effects.

How to Measure the Water Table 

3D image of rainfall on house

The best way for homeowners to determine the depth of a water table is by measuring the water level in a shallow well with tape. Surface geophysical techniques exist, but professionals typically use them for more complex investigations. Observing ponding issues after heavy rain may also indicate a high water table, but it’s not always an accurate indicator.

Why Do Water Tables Rise and Fall? 

Water tables fluctuate due to the balance between incoming and outgoing water. Heavy rain, melting snow, and limited drainage can raise water tables. Dry seasons, increased water usage, and adequate drainage can lead to a drop.

How to Get Rid of a High Water Table

The following solutions help prevent the effects of a high water table:

Installed basement gutter french drain
  • Proper Drainage: Plants and healthy lawns help slow runoff and absorb water, while drainage systems carry excess water away from your home.
  • Swales: These shallow depressions collect stormwater and release them to the municipal drain. Depending on your yard’s grading, swales can carry the water toward the front or rear of the property. 
  • Underground Pipes: Some yards require more than surface drainage. For these homes, a French drain is installed. Sloping slightly towards the discharge point, this system captures water infiltration.
  • Basement Waterproofing: Sump pumps and other waterproofing solutions help prevent water damage, which is prevalent in areas with high water tables.

If your home lies within a high water table, don’t worry. JES Foundation Repair experts offer free inspections to diagnose and address these issues. Our industry-leading solutions provide long-term results, keeping your home safe and dry. 

Basement Waterproofing FAQs

Basement finishing has become more and more popular in recent years as homeowners seek to make the most of every square inch of space that their home has to offer. There are many regulatory requirements around what is needed to class a basement as a ‘habitable space’. For example, you will need an egress window of a certain size. However, waterproofing is not technically necessary to finish your basement fully.

However, it is a very good idea to waterproof your basement before you begin any finishing work. After all, nothing is certain to ruin your hard work and furnishings quite like dampness, flooding, and mold. The benefits of waterproofing your basement before finishing it are many, and the process itself should be very straightforward and cost-effective, unless there are serious underlying issues that must be addressed first.

Generally speaking, waterproofing your basement will start with clearing all obstructions and debris from the space. After this, insulation will be cut to size and installed alongside vapor barriers to prevent moisture from seeping through the bare concrete walls and into your home. Depending on the space you have, a professional may also suggest perimeter drains and a sump pump system to make sure that your finished basement stays safe and dry in even the worst weather. Waterproofing your basement before you finish it will not only protect your hard work, but will make your finished basement more comfortable to be in.

We strongly advise against attempting to waterproof or repair your crawl space on your own. The crawl space can be a dangerous area, and temporary solutions from hardware stores are insufficient. Trust the experienced professionals at JES Foundation Repair for a thorough inspection and customized waterproofing solutions. Contact us to learn more and schedule a free inspection.

Yes, ensuring the ground around your home slopes away from the foundation can help prevent water buildup. It’s essential to keep gutters clean and ensure downspouts direct water at least five to ten feet away from the foundation. Proper landscaping can significantly reduce the risk of water intrusion. 

Related Resources

Shaye Glisson

Shaye Glisson

Shaye is an SEO Content Writer for Groundworks with over twelve years of experience creating helpful content across various industries, including home services and retail. She is a Gulf Coast native and writes from her firsthand knowledge of the area's hurricane and flood impacts on the local community. In her free time, Shaye enjoys exploring the local food and music scenes.

Publish Date:

Last Modified Date:

JES Foundation Repair service area map of the Mid-Atlantic region.

Our Locations


8361 Town Center Ct
Nottingham, MD 21236


311 Central Rd.
Suite 2-02
Fredericksburg, VA 22401

Hampton Roads & NE NC

2569 Quality Ct
Virginia Beach, VA 23454

Northern VA & DC

7940 Gainsford Ct.
Bristow, VA 20136


309 Quarles Rd
Ashland, VA 23005

Southwest Virginia / Roanoke

2033 Cook Dr.
Salem, VA 24153

Western Virginia

456 Old Courthouse Rd
Appomattox, VA 24522


45 W Boscawen St,
Winchester, VA 22601