The Iceman Cometh to Beverly Hills

No this isn’t about our own production of Eugene O’Neill’s famous play.  It isn’t about play at all it’s about work.  My work, and it was not working out to be a good day for me.

This all has to do with rain gutters. My rain gutters. For homes in most regions of the country, rain gutters and downspouts are necessary to collect and carry away rainwater. Without them, water would erode the soil around the foundation, splash dirt onto the siding and likely leak into the basement or crawl space. To make sure that gutters drain properly they slope (½ inch for every 10 feet) toward a downspout. For gutter runs longer than 40 feet, it’s best to pitch the gutter down from the middle to a downspout at each end. Or you can slope the gutters down from each end toward a single downspout placed in the middle of the run. This information is from the site “This Old House” as is the diagram and photo below.

Rain Gutter Details

Rain Gutter Details

So now you have a picture of what a rain gutter is. We don’t usually have them in Las Vegas because it hardly ever rains, though they are commonplace in most of the country.

Rain Gutter Closeup

Rain Gutter Close-up

This image above shows a guy working on a gutter in ideal conditions, no rain snow etc. Now imagine this: Instead of a clear summer day, it is January, the ground is frozen and snowy, and I am on an extension ladder, not the steady platform that this guy has.  The ladder is a good one that we bought 5 years ago at a Montgomery Ward store in Binghamton. A 12′ ladder with a pulley and rope used to extend it.  Every home should have one.

There’s a great old hymn about work I want to share with you that goes as follows:

Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling,
Work ’mid springing flowers;
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.

Well, I did work through the morning hours, and more, for the night was coming and I wanted this man’s work (a nasty job) done. I share all this detail because with your understanding, I shall be understood. Let me describe my task: Snow had accumulated on the roof and slowly melted due to a brief January thaw and the melt dripped down the roof  into the gutters. Instead of draining away, the snow melt accumulated in the gutters and froze into ice.

Take another look at the guy working and you will see the gutter installed some inches from the shingles on the eaves. My gutters were quite close to the shingles and the damn ice formed an ice dam. This damn dam backed under the shingles and the ice melt started working its way under the shingles and then dripping under the roof into the room below.

So, what to do and how do I do it?  I got my ladder, extended it and climbed up for a look. It became obvious that I had to get the ice out. So I was facing it, always facing it, that’s the way to get this task done. Just face it. An ice pick would not do, I would be picking away all day. I did have an old wood chisel that had seen better days and got it and a hammer.  Up the ladder I went and started chiseling away.  This was precarious since the ladder was supported by the roof edge at its upper end and this made difficult for me to chip away. To start with, I was anxious because I did not know what I was doing, the ground was frozen, and the front yard was not level, but pitched toward the road.  However, I said to myself  “I will make a start on this, after all well begun is half done.”

And so it was, The remainder was easier since there was a thin film of water under the first chunk of ice and later pieces came out quicker. Another adventure in home owning.  More to come though.

I have added a new slidehsow about Marge and Pat’s visit to Scotland.  Click the link below to access this.

To view website full size slide shows click on SLIDESHOW . If you see a slide you like, pause the show and click on the image and choose an option that appeals to you,


About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
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