Susan Hasten had not heard of ice dams until this week. That's when the frozen gutters in the sunroom on the back of her Bethesda home backed up and water dripped down the wall of windows. In a panic, she cooked up her own triage.
"I have a complex system of taped-up black trash bags and roaster pans to catch the water," said Hasten, who measured 40 inches of snow in her yard. "It feels like the whole house is sinking into a snow hole."
Now that snow accumulations are subsiding, many area residents are having their own meltdowns. All that snow has started dissolving in the above-freezing temperatures of the past few days, and misery has descended on buried neighborhoods. Homeowners, still reeling from power outages and shoveling marathons, are discovering water seeping through roofs or into basements, or they are anxious that it will be soon. They are knocking icicles and snow piles off roofs, shoveling out drains around exterior basement stairs and moving mountains of snow away from foundations. They are using everything they can find in their domestic arsenals to fight off Mother Nature.
"I'm out there every morning and every night with a hockey stick or a curtain rod trying to knock the icicles off my house," said Isabelle Howes of Rockville.
The family's troubles started Sunday when John Howes went to make coffee. He found water dripping from his kitchen light fixture. By the time his wife came down for breakfast, he had a beach towel and a bucket sitting on a table under the drip. By the end of the week, they had water seeping through the double doors in the breakfast room and the master bedroom walls. Yesterday, it showed up in the finished basement.