H2O, Friend or Foe?

H2O. Water. Of course we need it to survive, but water is not always your friend. And when I say “not always,” I mean now. Winter turns water into snow and ice. And that can be beautiful. Icicles in the sunlight can be so enchanting that you forget what water is capable of. You take pictures of them and share them with your friends. Everyone oohs and aahs. And that’s when it strikes.

Icicles dripping in sunlight

Pretty, but don’t get complacent when there’s ice on your roof.

We’ve had over 70″ of snow so far this winter, and try as we might, we cannot keep up with raking it off the roof. One particular section of our roof tends to hang on to the snow, and this year it built up a 6″ thick dam of ice along the front of the roof.

The ice dam got even bigger than this!

The ice dam got even bigger than this!

Sure, we made a few halfhearted attempts to buy more calcium chloride, but when several stores in a row are out of the darn stuff, you tell yourself that you’ll go back in a few days. But life happens and you forget.

Then one day while a painting contractor is in your house (and therefore you’re already stressed), he comes to you in the middle of the day and says, “Kim, I think you better come see this.” Uh oh, that’s never good. So I go over there and he’s standing in the coat closet with water raining on him from the attic.

An example of "pretty" ice. Looks harmless when it's turning the driveway into artwork, doesn't it?

An example of “pretty” ice. Looks harmless when it’s turning the driveway into artwork, doesn’t it?

That’s what happened yesterday, and that was just the first “water incident” of the day. After a few minutes of panic and stuffing old towels up in the attic above the closet, I called a roofing contractor for help. They were able to rearrange their schedule and arrived within an hour. In less than 30 minutes they had shoveled off the roof and hacked a big channel down the center of the ice dam. Eric managed to find a store with some calcium chloride on his way home, so they dumped $50 worth of the stuff up there. As they left (with my $250 check, ugh), there was a waterfall of melting ice pouring off the roof. What a relief.

But let’s back up an hour….as I was wandering around the house in my initial panic, trying to figure out what to do, I happened to walk past our first-floor utility room. I noticed a puddle of water beneath the water heater. So right before I called the roofing guys, I had a conversation with my trusty plumber about the situation with the water heater. He had me check a few things and determined that it was time to replace the stupid thing. He said he’d be here first thing in the morning with a new one. (That’ll cost me another $700.) I’ll admit I went into the bathroom to have a bit of a cry, but I’m surprised I kept it together as much as I did.

Ice formations on the river. That's pretty ice.

Ice formations on the river. That’s pretty ice.

So fast-forward to this morning. The roof seems ok. The painter is here again, hopefully for his last day. The plumber starts draining the water from the heater. Then I hear it: “Kim, can you come here?” Yep, the floor drain was frozen solid, so the water backed up into the utility room. Luckily he caught it fast and we got the shop-vac from the garage and quickly cleaned that up. But I thought, geez H2O, what did I ever do to you?

Icicle shadows

Icicle shadows, a bit menacing. Hinting at their true nature?

I’ve got so much on my plate right now, and I don’t function well with too much going on at once. We’ve got a much-anticipated birding trip with Michigan Audubon this weekend, which is great. But I’m stressed about the petsitter, who sometimes has trouble with our road and our door. And then there’s the surgery I’m having next week to remove a lump from my neck. I’m told it’s just fatty tissue and nothing to worry about, but surgery is always a big deal. So I really did not need H2O to start punching me around this week.

This house has taught me some hard lessons about home ownership. (One of those lessons is that renting a home isn’t so bad after all…I might try it again one day soon.) But I’ve also developed a new respect for water. Whether it’s liquid or solid, water can kick your butt. Please learn from my experience…go clear off your roof. Now.


P.S. It turns out the old water heater was 18 years old, so it had lasted well beyond its expected life. I hope the new one is that reliable. And I’m getting a massage tomorrow to get the tension worked out of my back. That’s going to be soooo nice!

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8 Responses to H2O, Friend or Foe?

  1. Robyn LaRue says:

    I’ll keep you in my prayers for surgery. Hang in there!

    • Robyn, thank you so much. Surgery was on Thursday and it went very well. In fact, I’m heading out to the doctor’s office to get my stitches removed this morning. I’m amazed at how easy the whole thing was!

  2. What an awful couple of days you have had, Kim. I don’t blame you one bit for heading to the bathroom for a cry. I would have done exactly the same thing. Good thoughts going to you for your surgery next week.

  3. Littlesundog says:

    I’m sending positive energy your way, Kim. My thoughts while reading this post were that it was probably a good thing all of this happened before your surgery and before you get hooked up with birding and migration. There never really is a good time for any kind of trouble is there?

  4. Good luck with everything coming your way during this hectic time. Sending good wishes and energy your way and hope it becomes a little easier as each hurdle is overcome. 🙂

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