a TERRIFYING adventure.

Yesterday I was at the Cross House. And it began to rain! Whenever I am at the house during a storm I run outside like an idiot to see what is happening with the gutters and downspouts. Is all well? Well, yesterday I saw that the very top of the octagon tower, which has a built-in gutter, had water flowing OVER the huge cornice, like a waterfall. Huh? What? That is NOT supposed to be happening. Water is supposed to run ALONG the gutter and then exit through the downspout.



I stared at this unexpected and unwanted waterfall flowing down in front of the two arched windows of the tower, and the large window below.

It was obvious that the downspout, around the corner to the right, was blocked.

But how to get to it?



A sensible person would have waited until the rain stopped, the house dried, and then corralled Justin into helping.

A sensible person, however, was not in evidence yesterday at the Cross House. And the person who was in evidence (who shall go unnamed) could only think of one thing: My baby is being damaged! MUST PROTECT BABY!


So, the unnamed idiot climbed out through the top-floor door (right arrow), walked along the built-in gutter, around the corner, and to the downspout in question (left arrow). Unnamed idiot was TERRIFIED, TERRIFIED and FUCKING TERRIFIED.


(Warning: DON’T LOOK DOWN!) Upon reaching the downspout, Mr. Unnamed ran a long thin stick down through the spout from the top. This dislodged…nothing. Mr. Unnamed rammed and rammed and nothing happened. Except the bottom elbow fell away. And sticking out from the spout was a rotted wood roofing shingle. Which proved to be compacted with many other rotted wood roof shingles.



It was clear that when the octagon tower was redone several years ago, the roofers were casual about cleaning out the downspouts after they tore off the old roof.

Which means that this downspout has been compacted solid for over two years. Two years of rains and storms and snow.

Two years of damage to the house which the new roofing and relined gutters were meant to prevent, not cause.

Oh, Mr. Unnamed was maaaaaaaaaad!


The totally compacted elbow.


After pulling out the rotted shingles from the spout, the whole gross putrid mess RUSHED out, revealing rotted wood, rusty nails, dirt, and red circles (the roofing nails used for the underlayment). All this mess was tossed to the ground.


And the TERRIFYING death walk was repeated in reverse. And Mr. Unnamed aged several years in the process.




  1. Devyn on May 21, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    Ugh, I feel your pain.

    The previous owner of our house ignored cleaning the downspouts for years, leaving the rear yard in 3-5 inches of water every time it rained. We had them cleared out, and then had a new drain added to alleviate the standing water. One year later, the downspout is clogged again with crap from the roof. I am installing a special catch filter soon which theoretically will remove the debris before it happens again.


  2. Stewart Mclean on May 21, 2018 at 8:29 pm

    — THAT REALLY SUCKS! —Do you feel that you have to check all of the spouts to make sure the roofers didn’t do the same elsewhere. If so, I might call the roofer and politely ask,(demand), that he/she do the inspection. The only problem would be if he left that spout like that, he might not want you to know that the others have problems too or do as thorough an inspection as you would do yourself.
    -I am not trying to cast aspersions on your roofer.It amazes me that lawsuits and trends in the insurance business almost force contractors to deny responsibility for so many things that they would happily fix otherwise.

  3. Jenine on May 21, 2018 at 8:38 pm

    Sounds about normal from my experience with contractors. Treasure Justin, he’s a wonderful person.

  4. Annette on May 21, 2018 at 8:48 pm

    Eeeek, I hope Mr unnamed is able to get Mr Sensible over to help him check the other gutters. Pretty sure if I was Mr unnamed I would be furious right now!

  5. Cindy Belanger on May 21, 2018 at 9:24 pm

    Water is the worst enemy of an old house. Thinking about you inching your way along the roof to get to the downspout, old house lovers will do just about anything for their houses. I know the feeling. Here’s hoping this is the only downspout with problems.

  6. Sandra Lee on May 21, 2018 at 9:39 pm

    Whew! Thank goodness unnamed is safe! Thank goodness all that crap wS discovered & cleared!!!! Yay unnamed courageous idiot turned hero!

  7. Seth Hoffman on May 21, 2018 at 10:16 pm

    Haha, what a coincidence, that’s exactly what I did today too! I was sitting in my home office that looks out the front of thr second floor, and was treated to a waterfall in front of my window as the rain started coming down. I soon headed out to plant my ladder in the squishy lawn and grt things cleared out.

    Ours wasn’t clogged with roofing debris, but we have a huge and ancient sycamore tree in our yard, which stops a combination of elephant-ear sized leaves and various twigs, which make a very effective natural composite gutter-clogging mess.

  8. Kelly P. on May 21, 2018 at 11:35 pm

    I love the way you can make even bad things funny. Good luck with the rest of your gutters.

  9. Brian E on May 21, 2018 at 11:46 pm

    Thank God there are other unnamed idiots that run around the house when it rains. I thought only I did that…or, I mean….ummm….someone else I know. Yes… someone else I won’t name.

  10. Gia on May 22, 2018 at 12:13 am

    So I had this crazy scene where I put on a heavy wool coat and casually jumped off a lonely, narrow boardwalk into a cold, dark sea (at dusk) to blindly search for a black wallet I had dropped into the drink. Just as the freezing weight began to pull me down… I suddenly realised I was dreaming(!) and somehow mustered the strength to pull my panicked self out sans drowning. Although I was super relieved it was only a bad dream, I still woke up mad at myself for making such a rash and idiotic dream move – despite my lucky ending. You scaling narrow, ancient rooftops in the waking rain, alone and without real safety precautions – to save your expensive “baby”… sounds like a similar nightmare averted to me!

    • SEB on May 22, 2018 at 9:12 am

      nicely done 🙂

  11. Celeste on May 22, 2018 at 2:09 am

    If Mr Unnamed had been “sensible” (aka “Not inclined to buy an expensive broken-down Victorian”), he probably wouldn’t have bought the house in the first place, which would have been far worse for the building in the long run. (He actually seems pretty sensible to me.) I suspect the Cross House will forgive Mr Unnamed for the gutter debris pretty quickly. I just hope Mr Unnamed can forgive himself.

  12. Rick on May 22, 2018 at 3:14 am

    I beleive its been decided which side of the house is going to be next after your done with the north East side eh?

  13. Dan Goodall-Williams on May 22, 2018 at 3:17 am

    WOW! I think I would have done the same thing. Was it an idiot move, yes, did it save Baby, yes, so, not so dumb of a move. Should you have waited and done it the proper way, yes, but we don’t have patience for that! I’m happy to see that you are fine and I suspect the other gutters are ok, since you didn’t see other issues. But maybe next time wait for Justin?

  14. Jeanette on May 22, 2018 at 7:19 am

    I was holding my breath while I read your post this morning! I am so glad you were able to alleviate the issue, I pray there aren’t more clogged gutters, but I have to say I was totally feeling your fear as I read your post. I’m so glad you’re safe and dry now! By the way, I am always on the lookout on the ‘net for your window pulls and stumbled across a really cool architectural salvage site. You might already know of this site, but just in case…www.urbanremainschicago.com. Amazing website!

  15. Tony Bianchini on May 22, 2018 at 7:51 am

    My asshole was puckering up as I read this!

    • john feuchtenberger on May 22, 2018 at 9:24 pm


  16. Kim on May 22, 2018 at 9:20 am

    😏 Kind of relieved to know there are other “unnamed”. I cringe when I hear thunder & watch for a bit to see how much is coming down. Then, I run out to make sure there’s at least a trickle where it’s supposed to be, and none where it’s not.

    Only when I get back inside do I notice I’ve been running around often with a large metal ladder … in a lightening storm.

    😐 Is it wrong to hope for drought? 🌞

  17. djd on May 22, 2018 at 1:47 pm

    I saw some scary snakes until I realized they were your shoelaces.

  18. June on May 22, 2018 at 5:47 pm

    I was oh-my-ing and oh no-ing. Saw the snakes and freaked. and thought “what we do for love!”

  19. Mike on May 24, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    My legs started quivering as soon as I saw the third picture, LOL. I don’t do heights…and my eaves are 30′ from the ground! When we had the new roof installed in 2009, I had all of the 1970s era aluminum gutters removed; clean them out today, and in 3 weeks they would be full of leaves again. I had the long-missing pediment gables rebuilt on the porches over each set of steps to keep the rain from drenching us, and now I don’t have to worry about gutters!

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