Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Service: Wins Every Time

Imagine your spouse, perched precariously on the top step of a stepladder, 15 feet above the ground, with a broom in one hand and the other hand grasping the edge of the roof, trying to brush the snow off your satellite dish so you can watch TV. Imagine yourself holding on to her by the belt-loops of her jeans, ready to pull her back from the brink of doom if she loses her balance.

This story actually starts back in June, when I pleaded with the satellite dish installer to mount it on the railing of our second-story balcony, rather than on the roof above. I’d heard the stories about signal loss when your dish is covered with snow, and wanted to have easy access to the dish in winter.

He said the snow issue wouldn’t happen. Famous last words. I should have stuck to my guns.

The wife-on-the-ladder-with-a-broom scenario has played out four times this winter, and the last one, a couple weeks ago, was a doozy. (For those who are now thinking “why doesn’t HE go up there?”, suffice it to say there’s not a stepladder made that’s safe for my weight.) Our 25-year-old daughter chastised us for our Keystone Kops routine, and said “next time CALL ME and I’ll stop over and do it for you!”.

There’s gotta be a better way than the wife-or-daughter-on-the-stepladder routine.

A little online research revealed a couple of solutions, to a problem that’s apparently pretty widespread. The most common method is to purchase, to the tune of about a hundred bucks, a fitted cover for your satellite dish. Two problems there: one, a lot of people on the discussion boards said the darn things don’t work with heavy, wet snow; two, there’s the whole issue of climbing up on the roof to install it.

The other solution, I discovered, is to buy and install a satellite dish heating element, which “melts snow and ice right off the dish”. Again, the issue of installation…and wiring. Nope. Not for me. I kept thinking the answer is a long-handled brush, on the order of those snow roof-rakes you can buy (which I did a couple years ago, and use constantly). Not to be found online anywhere.

I could reach the dish with a long-handled brush, by standing on our second-floor balcony off the master suite. No risking life and limb; takes care of the snow problem, and evenly-distributed thin ice from freezing rain doesn’t seem to bother reception. My idea was to buy a ten-foot length of PVC pipe - lightweight but sturdy - and attach a brush to the end of it.

Off to Dorn’s Hardware on Midvale Boulevard.

I was standing in front of the wide selection of ten-foot PVC pipe, when one of the staff asked me if he could help. I told him my problem and my theory. He asked a few more questions, and listened carefully. He’d never heard of the snow-in-the-dish issue. Then he said, “follow me to aisle 7”.

There, he showed me a heavy-duty brush, affixed to a collapsible ten-foot pole. The whole thing was about four feet long, and it was sturdy enough for the job! “Painters and house-cleaners use these”, he said. Under 20 bucks.

And that, my friends, is why I go to the local guys, and not the big-box guys. It’s called service.


  1. I just use a pump sprayer filled with hot water.

  2. You SURE that your hands 'were on her belt-loops'?

    Are you THAT old??

  3. This blog is read by my children and family, Dad....

  4. Don't take that much of trouble...just contact Satellite TV people and they will fix it for you...