Where Gutters and Heat Pumps Meet

One of these days I’m going to start thinking ahead and actually do the things that need to be done around the house to keep my wife happy and disaster at bay.

Unfortunately, I’m not very good at planning and so must occasionally suffer the consequences.

Our gutters are a perfect example of a job that escaped my notice until it was too late.

Judging by what happened last week, I really should be up on a ladder to clean the leaves out of them right now. Instead, I’m kicked back in my favorite chair mindlessly watching a “Pawn Stars” marathon and trying to come up with excuses to tell my wife when she asks why our heat pump isn’t working, again.

For the alert homeowner, gutters and heat pumps don’t have much to do with each other. But they do at my house.

That’s because our heat pump is situated in the worst possible location: directly beneath the precise point where rainwater gets backed up and overflows.

Saying our gutters simply overflow doesn’t seem to do justice to what happens when a big rain storm stalls over our house. It’s actually more dramatic.

Much more dramatic.

Think Niagara Falls emptying its fury directly into our heat pump and you get the picture.

The first heavy rainstorm of the fall usually serves as a pretty good reminder that our gutters need attention. All I have to do during a deluge is open the back door to observe:

a) rainwater rushing off the roof into the gutters.

b) rainwater with no place to go because our gutters are clogged with leaves.

c) buckets and buckets of rainwater pouring into our heat pump.


d) rainwater being sprayed everywhere by our heat pump’s fan.

At that point, I think to myself that I really ought to shimmy up the ladder. A few days later I usually do and the problem is taken care of.

But last week’s storm was different.

It was cold.

So cold, our heat pump couldn’t handle all the water pouring into it.

When I got home from work the morning before Thanksgiving, my wife informed me that our rickety old heat pump was making a funnier noise than usual.

I saw why when I looked outside.

It was encased in ice.

A couple of days later, our heat pump fixit guy stopped by, took a look around, stepped up on our back deck’s railing to get a look inside our gutters and said, “I don’t think anything is wrong with your heat pump.”

I almost begged to differ but thought better of it when he went on to explain that the freezing temperatures combined with all the water from our gutter simply froze our heat pump in its tracks. He said to give him a call if it didn’t work properly once all the ice melts.

Before you start chuckling and feeling all superior because I somehow couldn’t figure that out on my own, my fixit guy suggested that I’m not the only failed homeowner around with heat pump problems. He told me he’d been much busier than usual because the storm that blew through before Thanksgiving had taken a lot of people in our region by surprise.

But that doesn’t ameliorate the fact that our geriatric heat pump is nearing the end of its usefulness. Sometime soon, we are going to have to invest in a new one, but not today.

Today, I’m dragging the ladder out of the garage.

But first I’m dying to see if the “Pawn Stars” are going to buy that huge collection of “Lone Ranger” memorabilia they’re considering.

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