“You will not believe this one - I was with a client today who talked all about ice dams and the damage they cause, so I asked what is that???????????? And sure enough, I was looking at wet spots in my bedroom ceiling today, and was just about to call my handyman to take a look at. Now I understand this is a very urgent matter to get the water drained away that is dammed up there off the roof - or roof caving, or water coming all the way through. And it happens fast. I have never heard of this in my life!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”
So writes my sister, Kathy, a recent transplant from Colorado, in a frantic e-mail, complete with multiple punctuation marks to emphasize the urgency.
I invite her over to have dinner, play games, and “talk ice dams”. My sister plops down on the couch in a “tell me again, why did I move to this frozen wasteland?” kind of way. My husband attempts to explain ice dams to her, and I see her eyes glaze over. Whatever. She wants to know what she is supposed to do now. And, more importantly how much is this going to cost?
My husband advises, “Just paint the bedroom ceiling in the spring. And don’t go up on the roof looking for trouble. Let the next homeowners deal with it.” We all agree that it’s best to sweep this problem under the rug for now. We have found that denial works in the most vexing situations.
Kathy exclaims, “We grew up in Wisconsin! I never heard of these ice dams before! I mean, can you imagine Dad raking the roof?” Indeed, I could not.
So, what is causing this relatively new phenomenon in our Minnesota winter? Kathy wonders, is it climate change? Perhaps. I pose the theory that somebody invented a roof rake, couldn’t find a purpose for it, so he or she started a campaign cautioning against ice dams, and it went viral. The inventor was able to retire rich.
Or, maybe, and I think this is the most likely, we Minnesotans needed something else to talk about.
Yes, it seems we have run out of winter topics. We’ve exhausted polar vortexes (vortices?), the problem of snow days for school children, wind chill factors, plowed (or more accurately, unplowed) roads, and increased numbers of broken limbs in the ER. We just had to come up with something else. Ice dams it is.
I mean, honestly, have you gone a day without someone bringing up the topic of ice dams? The mail carrier, the check-out lady at Cub, dinner parties, all of these exchanges have been dominated by talk of ice dams.
The ladies in my health club locker room, in various states of undress, have exhausted the topic from all sides: what’s the best solution: Steaming? Filling panty hose with salt (say, what?), just letting them melt on their own, hiring the neighbor kid to rake? My, but we have examined every facet of the problem, and come up with no agree-upon solution.
And that’s the thing. In all our conversations, there seems to be no universal solution.
That seems to be the purpose of the ice dam. Because there is no solution, we can just keep the depressing conversation going. All the way until May, at which time we paint the ceilings, and start complaining about mosquitoes.
Just as there is no solution, there seems to be no end. As my husband advised my sister, “You could hire someone to remove the ice dams, but trust me on this, it will just snow again.”
And so the conversation continues.