This is a sequel to one of my earliest posts, about gutter covers. It was such a fascinating topic, I thought I’d revisit it.
For some reason, ever since abandoning apartment living a quarter century ago, I have had a mild fixation with the roof over my head. Perhaps it came from knowing that now, if the roof caved in, it would no longer have to travel through four or five floors of other people’s apartments to deposit rubble in my living area. My fixation might have started earlier had I ever been able to afford a penthouse.
Another reason for my roophobia (or roofobia) was the terrible flashing problem we had when we moved to our townhouse condo in Westchester. I do not mean that our neighbors had a tendency to run by our kitchen window naked. “Flashing,” I found out then, is a piece of roofing material that is supposed to prevent “ice damming,” which is when water freezes on the roof, backs up and leaks through into the home and the home owner says “Damn ice is causing a flood again!”
Anyway, our roof evidently did not have adequate flashing, because we sure had a lot of damming. And, in a mystery we never did solve, when water did leak in, it leaked in on the bottom floor. No one knew how water was dripping from the ceiling of the downstairs den without touching my office which was directly above it. I always imagined that it was coursing down a complex conduit hiding within our walls.
Ultimately we solved this problem with an elaborate installation of roof wires that would heat up when we turned on a switch in our bedroom closet. If the water didn’t freeze, it didn’t back up, and it didn’t dam. True, I was always afraid our roof would catch fire from the wires, but that never happened.
Now let me tell you one of my earliest memories of the house we currently live in. It is February of 2011, and we’re arriving for our second look at the house (this is before we even decided to put in an offer). It is also the only time I remember seeing the male half of the previous ownership. He was on the roof, shoveling snow.
Having lived only in apartments and condos, I had shoveled very little snow in my life, and was not looking forward to acquiring this chore at age 57, which is near the age of people you always see on the local news recovering from the strokes they had while shoveling snow. And since I was dreading having to shovel snow on the ground, I certainly had no plans to go up on the roof to do it.
So, while we were in the early stages of the kitchen renovation, we asked the electrician who was working on it to install a roof wire, which he agreed to do once the kitchen was finished. Little did we know then–in July–that it would snow–in October–before the kitchen was finished!
Meanwhile, we had to deal with our gutters.
One of the first things we looked into once we were moved in was the installation of covers for the gutters. This was partially because we moved in during the spring shedding season, when the many trees on our property were deluging us with all manner of droppings, a barrage they kept up until late November. But, as I chronicled in my earlier post, I was talked out of spending $2600 to install a GutterGlove® Icebreaker super-high-tech roof gutter protection system complete with built-in anti-damming wiring. Instead we followed the advice of the company that had put the roof on the house and decided to just pay some guys to come twice a year and clean the gutters. I guess maybe it should have occurred to us that the guys we’d be paying worked for the roofing company, and so, perhaps, the company had a vested interest in not having us use gutter covers.
Anyway, that was all before we discovered a flaw in the gutter system, which was that the downspouts got easily clogged with all the stuff that the trees were throwing into our gutters, and the water backed up where the gutters met at a right angle, right over our front door, so that every time it rained, we had to race through a small waterfall to get inside. We called the roof company, and they sent some guys out who finally admitted that we really should put gutter covers on.
But they also told us we didn’t need the $2600 super-high-tech roof gutter protection system complete with built-in anti-damming wiring. Just a basic $350 cover would do. So that’s what we did.
A couple of weeks later, the electrician, Rob, finally installed the roof wire. What we didn’t know was that this wire was not the same as the wire we had in Westchester, which just went on the roof. This one went in and out of the gutters. Which made it impossible for the gutter covers to stay on. Which is why, the morning after the wire was installed, our lawn was littered with the gutter toppers that had blown off the roof.
Which meant we probably would have been better off with the $2600 super-high-tech roof gutter protection system complete with built-in anti-damming wiring in the first place.
And what is the moral of this story? It is that you cannot do one thing to a house without it affecting other things. It is a domino effect similar to the theory that got us into Vietnam in the 1960s.
It was a war we could have won, if only the military had been equipped with a super-high-tech roof gutter protection system complete with built-in anti-damming wiring.
See you soon.