WHAT IS THAT SOUND IN THE BASEMENT?

We were watching “Father Brown” on Netflix and in the back of my head, I was hearing a grinding sort of sound. I could not identify it, but it was coming from the basement. I could barely hear it … but it was there. It isn’t the sound our boiler makes and it didn’t sound like the dehumidifier.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Odd sounds in the house always get me investigating. I can’t ignore them. 

So I went downstairs to look around. Aside from realizing that we really are overrun by mice, the sound had stopped. I shrugged and went upstairs, pondering how the mice — which we used to have under control — went so crazy. I think it’s because no one lives downstairs now, so they’ve the run of the place. They are living here, but as far as food goes, they are “ordering out.”

Woods in winter – Photo: Garry Armstrong
Snow starting in early winter

Our Pest Control guy assured us they aren’t eating our food because you can follow the trail of acorns from the trees. Our oak trees could feed a world of squirrels. It turns out, they are already feeding a world of mice.

Living in the woods is wonderful and romantic. It’s also messy and invites many uninvited guests to drop by and stay awhile.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

Today, we took Gibbs to the vet. It was his annual visit. He needed to be tested for heart worm, though I know he doesn’t have it. As we were driving home, I noticed all the little streams looked more like real rivers. Everything has overrun its banks.

The Mumford and Blackstone Rivers are full and the dams wide open. Even the usually shallow Whitins Pond is deep and wider than usual.

Manchaug Dam

That was when I realized what that sound was, the one I heard last night. It was a sound I had nearly forgotten because it has been years since I heard it.

It was the sump pump, pushing the water out of the sump under the house.

Flooding!

If we didn’t have a sump, a pump, and French drains, we would be up to our kneecaps in water downstairs. For the first time in more than a dozen years, we are facing the likelihood of flooding in the valley.

We are pretty well prepared for it because when we first moved here, we had some serious flooding issues. Before we even fixed the roof or put up siding, we were adding French drains across the entire front of the house, down the driveway and through the backyard into the woods. The sump and pump came about two years later and we haven’t had any flooding since.

Of course, if the water gets bad enough, nothing will stop it, but we don’t live on the edge of a river — though many people around here live very close to the river. We have a lot of rivers and tributaries and streams and ponds.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

We are a major water source for all of Massachusetts as well as parts of Connecticut and Rhode Island. It is the reason I get so worried when we go through long periods of drought or semi-drought. It isn’t just “our” well. We are all linked to the same underground waterways and rivers. The water belongs to everyone.

22 thoughts on “WHAT IS THAT SOUND IN THE BASEMENT?”

  1. I could say what an exciting life you lead, although not really. There is never a dull moment. I also do not like strange noises at home, but we do not have a sump pump, just boilet for the hot water and it usually stays under contol. Thank goodness the house mice can feed themselves with external food supplies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The mice have made a mousy mess in the basement. Well, as messes go, not a gigantic mess, but one which after they get rid of the mice — probably three visits — I can then vacuum up. Since they haven’t been eating our food or pulling out insulation or anything like that, it’s just tiny little droppings that will vacuum up. Not much point in doing anything about it until they get rid of the mice. Mice like a nice warm house in the winter, so around late October, they do their best to find a way into your house. They are so tiny and flexible, it’s nearly impossible to keep them out, no matter how you seal everything up. And if you have a dog or cat door — you’re going to have mice.

      Meanwhile, there were NO ants in the kitchen this morning. I was expecting them since it is dry and sunny, though cold. Probably it’s the cold keeping them in their hills. It’s only just a little about freezing … quite chilly for April, but not as unusual as all that. Spring weather in New England is very erratic. It can be extremely warm — even hot — as early as March. More typically, it stays pretty cold until some time during the first week or two of May when suddenly, between breakfast and lunch, it goes from the 30s to the 70s.

      All the trees bloom. The flowers open. The birds sing. Spring is here!

      The next day, it’s 95 degrees with 95% humidity — and you are hauling out the air conditioners. We don’t really get a “season” of spring at this latitude. We get a long winter, a long summer, and usually, a pretty long Autumn, but if you are busy on that one day in May, you could miss spring.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. We have mice, but we also have a garden cupboard and that is where they head for in Winter, they never really enter our home. They also seems to have a good infrastructure where we live and find places outside to stay for the Winter. There is always plenty of food around. Everyone has a bird house outsdie and I suspect they help themselves now and again.
        Glad the ants have now disappeared.

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        1. I’m also betting your house is sealed better than ours. It’s really easy for something that small to get in here … and it gets SO cold, they will do anything for just a warm place to be. I feel bad for them, but you can’t invite a mouse or two. They breed like mad.

          Liked by 1 person

  2. I do fear for your subterranean lodgers. If you get flooding in the basement, might they not seek higher grounds…like your kitchen or bedrooms? Inquiring minds are hoping for dryer times.

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    1. I don’t think (fingers crossed) we will flood. We are well set up to resist the water. And we aren’t close enough to the river to get the full effect. The mice live in the walls. They only come out at night. They are more of an annoyance than a serious pest. But they are annoying and they make a mess.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We are having similar area of flooding—not nearly as much as you. But all it takes is the threat for me to curse the fact my office is in the basement. That nearly all the wiring runs overhead should have been a clue! Good luck to us all!

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        1. If we don’t get another bout of serious drenching rain, we’ll be okay. So far, so good. I was looking at the streams and rivers today and they are above the banks. Not a lot. Yet. But a lot of little streams are looking like full-size rivers right now.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. When we have rains to the extent like we’ve had the last couple weeks, everyone with a basement around here ends up getting water inside… it’s one of those things that’s almost a running joke in my city. One of the features I do adore about my house is that it was built on a slab… so while I might be screwed if a tornado comes through, or I could get mud-slid right into my ditch someday… at least I don’t have to worry about pumping water out of my basement every time it rains.

    As for the mice… if the dogs are not allowed to go into the basement, I’d highly recommend finding some of those green blocks of mouse rodent poison to throw down there. They’re the next best method of mouse control next to owning cats…

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    1. We used to get flooded, but we haven’t had a spring this wet in a long time — more than 10 years at least. I’m hoping all the stuff we did to protect us — the drains, the sump, the pump — will work. If it gets VERY bad, nothing will help, but I’ve got my fingers crossed that we’ll be OK.

      The poisoning guys are going after the mice. They are living in the walls and we’ll never get rid of them without help. We’ve tried, but they’ve taken over. I thought we had them under control, but I wuz wrong.

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  4. I sure hope you avoid flooding, Marilyn, and get rid of those mice.

    Here, sump pumps are required by law. Fortunately, in the town we moved into that law only just took effect last year right before we bought our new home, so the sump pump is new. So far, I’ve never heard it kick on, however, and hopefully I never will. I like my nice, dry, waterproofed basement just the way it is.

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    1. My son built ours. They aren’t a requirement, but they should be. It finally ended the basement flooding. We’ve just had a long period of dry years where we barely got enough water to get through the summer. This year has been wet … and the pump was waiting. I was SO glad we have it!

      Unless we get a lot more rain, I don’t think we’ll flood. And the Pest Control folks promise they WILL get rid of the mice. That’s their job and they are a very good group. I am optimistic.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Thank heavens for the sump pump. I haven’t checked lately about our lake Ontario. Last year it was up a good 3 feet more than usual. People on Toronto Island were flooded for a good part of spring and summer last year.
    Leslie

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  6. Snow, flooding, mice, ants, caterpillars, cougars… tell me again how great it is living in the country! 😉

    Still – at least it’s not as bad as Egypt – they had 10 plagues didn’t they?? 😉

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