I’ve always found that when I have not been drinking enough water I start to get a headache. And this winter has proven to me that an overabundance of water can generate headaches as well, but they are of a different sort. We live in northern Ohio, south of Lake Erie in what is referred to as the “snow-belt.” This means we get a substantial amount of snow every year. Fortunately, this year we have not had any extremely heavy snowfalls in our area, but what we have had is many small to moderate snowfalls and this had led to a significant amount of snow being piled-up everywhere.
I have spent a lot of time clearing my walk and driveway this year. Lately, the snow piles have gotten so tall that it is getting difficult to clear more snow. One pile in particular is taller than me. If I use a snow blower to clear the drive, I can watch as the blown snow just rolls right back down the mount into the just cleared driveway. And when I use a shovel, which I often choose to do for the exercise and because it gives me more control over where the snow lands, it is getting more and more difficult because I now have to lift the snow over six feet in the air to keep it from falling back onto the driveway.
But where I really get the headaches is from the snow on the rooftops. Being in a century home, the insulation is not spectacular, because the house was not built with insulation in mind. This leads to heat escaping from the house into the attic. So the attic roof is warmed enough to cause the snow on it to melt. This melting snow runs down the roof until it reaches the overhang which is not warmed because below it is the outside. Once it gets to this part of the roof, the meltwater refreezes. This leads to icicles and ice dams. As long as it stays cold outside, this melt-freeze cycle continues, until the collection of ice on the overhang is so thick, the meltwater no longer has anywhere to go and pools up on the roof. Pools of water on the roof is a bad thing. No matter what you do, that water will find some way to continue its path towards the earth. This typically means it is coming through the roof and into the house.
I have already had to deal with saturated insulation and drywall in our recently renovated mudroom, and it still appears there is no end to the snow and cold this year. The mudroom is not too steep or high, so I have been able to chip and shovel that area clear. But I have many more ice dams much higher up that I have concerns about. After climbing 20+ feet on a ladder that was propped up on one of these extremely slippery blocks of ice to toss some salt filled stockings up over the ice in the hopes that it melts a channel that allows the water to drain. The way the ladder just slid around on the ice, I’ve decided that the safest course of action is to cross my fingers that we don’t have anymore problems and just try to wait it out.
As it starts to warm up I’ll once again have my fingers crossed in the hopes the ice that falls does not once again rip the gutters off the house or destroy anything else. I’ve now promised myself that before next winter, I will have installed some ice melting cables on the roof to minimize the ice buildup in the future.
As vital as water is, apparently you really can have too much of a good thing.