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In the gutter

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My ongoing battle with garden hoses and hose-related accessories continues.

In the past I have written about my years-long, unsuccessful search for a garden hose that will not kink. I have purchased many that the manufacturers claimed would not kink only to quickly prove them wrong.

Then last summer I wrote about my joy in finding what I thought to be the perfect garden hose, the neon yellow-green, “as seen on TV” hose that doesn’t kink and shrinks back to a compact size when you turn off the water.


My joy was short-lived, however, as one of the three miracle hoses we bought quickly ruptured.

This year’s troubles began not with a hose but with a heavy rain. I was sitting in the living room a couple of months back when I heard my wife call from the basement. “Doug, you’d better get down here.”

When I got downstairs, I saw water seeping into the basement in the corner of the laundry room. I quickly figured out that this was the corner where the downspout for the gutter that runs along the back of the house is located.

So I went outside in the rain, and sure enough, water was pouring over the top of the gutter for the full length of the house. I went to the garage, retrieved the aluminum extension ladder and a thin piece of dowel rod and headed back out into the rain.

Trying to ignore the thunder I heard in the distance, I quickly set up the ladder by the downspout (did I mention it is aluminum?). It promptly sank a few inches into the soggy soil. Armed with my dowel rod I scurried up the ladder and saw the downspout was clogged with twigs, etc.

After a couple of jabs with the dowel rod, the clog broke free and the gutter quickly emptied. Problem solved.

A few weeks ago, while shopping at a local garden store, I spotted a device that allows one to clean out gutters from the ground. This tool is basically an extendable hose attachment with a curved end. In theory a homeowner can stand on the ground, extend this attachment, turn on the hose, put the hook-shaped nozzle over the edge of the gutter and flush debris toward the downspout.

My wife strongly urged me to buy this device, saying she was in favor of anything that kept me from doing stupid stuff, such as climbing an aluminum ladder during a thunderstorm. So I bought it.

So when our maple trees started dropping all their “helicopters,” I saw the perfect chance to test out my new gutter-cleaning device. I screwed it to the end of a hose, extended it to its full length, hung it over the edge of the gutter and turned on the water.

Within a few seconds I was soaking wet, as water shot out of the connection between the hose and the device. I shut off the water and proceeded to try to screw the device on tighter.

When I did, the end of the hose broke off, leaving part of it still screwed into my new gutter cleaner.

The only other hoses I had were the two remaining “as seen on TV” types that didn’t burst last summer. So I hooked those to the gutter cleaning tool and tried again. While I didn’t get soaking wet this time, I quickly noticed that very little water was coming out of the nozzle of the tool.

I looked down and saw that the “as seen on TV” wonder hose had ruptured where it connected to the outside faucet.

This new gutter cleaning tool may be the greatest invention ever. But as I quickly discovered, it’s only as good as your weakest garden hose.

So my quest for the perfect garden hose continues. In the meantime, it’s back to my trusty dowel rod and extension ladder. But not, I’ve been informed, during storms.

Doug Showalter can be reached at 379-5625 or

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