Sunday, March 14, 2010
East Coast Water Cycle
When we first moved back East one of the things that was foreign to me was the concept of a “sump pump.” I always thought it was really supposed to be “sum pump” and the people back in these parts just pronounced it wrong. When we were looking for houses, our realtor would always take us down to point out the sump pump. Perhaps the house might have French drains and a sump pump, but it always had at least one of these.
Turns out a sump pump is more important than copper plumbing, updated electrical wiring, and not having termites. When you purchase a home back East, you’ll spend more time in the basement inspecting the sump pump and house drainage system than all other rooms combined. You might not have a fridge, stove, or running water, but dammit, that sump pump better be in working order.
I had no idea what this thing even was, except to say that when you fall in love with a property and then go downstairs to stare at a hole in the ground that actually has dirt in it, it’s a bit weird. It feels like the contractors forgot to finish a part of it, leaving this 3’x3’ hole in the bottom of your home. I’m thinking about bugs living in it. I’m thinking that there is soil exposure in my laundry room. I’m thinking I’d like to tile the thing over.
Not so fast, West Coast transplant. That little hole in the ground can save your home and all your worldly possessions if loved and cared for properly. Being from Arizona where the average rainfall is 7 inches a year and moving to Massachusetts where the average rainfall is 43 inches a year, I suppose you need to pay attention to where exactly the water is going. In Arizona you know that the water speckles the dirt long enough to leave a dusty smell in the air and that’s about it. You never worry that all this rain might be seeping under your Pergo flooring or leaving mold under your carpets. Pishaw. If there is any extra water anywhere you can be assured that the succulents and Saguaro cactus have sucked every last remaining drop from the earth like a thirsty sponge.
But here in greenville it’s been raining for about three days now. We eagerly listen for the song of the sump-back-whale kicking on and ejecting water back into our already saturated lawn. When the sound of silence greets us during a particularly heavy downpour, we go running downstairs to make sure water isn’t overflowing the sump pump well. Occasionally we fish for dinner. It’s one of the smaller sacrifices we face living back East. I’ll gladly deal with a visible hole in the earth next to my washer and dryer for the benefits of four seasons and a garden full of veggies.