I’ve cleared my third metric ton of snow off the balcony this weekend. This is based on a calculation that a cubic metre of fresh and fairly fluffy snow weighs 100kg. We have 25m2 of balcony, the snow reaches a thickness of between 0.25 and 0.5m before clearing and by that time it is a mix of fluffy and more compressed (heavier) snow with a bottom layer that is pretty much solid ice. So, I think using an average weight per clearance of 1 ton is conservative and I’ve cleared three times now. Using a small plastic shovel!
The snow is thrown over the handrail, which clears the evergreen privacy screen around Mr. Misery’s terrace, most of the time, and is forming a decent sized hump on the slope between his terrace and the road to our basement garage. Oleg gets some extra work of clearing the slippage from the roadway.
The second stat relates to shoelaces. If anyone ever asks you “How long would a shoelace last if it was used as a device for keeping a balcony door closed?”, the answer is “About a year.”. You never know when that one is going to come up in a pub quiz or crossword so worth remembering.
For some reason our balcony doors only have a handle on the inside. Perhaps security reasons, or just cheaper construction costs. This means that if you want to go out onto your balcony you have to leave the door open. You can try to pull it towards you by getting a grip on the rubber seal around the glass but this is hit and miss and even if you get it closed any gust of wind will open it again.
In the months of good weather and with cats trained not to jump, this is not an issue but nobody wants to leave the door open when it is below zero outside or when they have inquisitive young kitties who wouldn’t think twice about jumping and then disappearing for a week. Add to this a slightly greater use of the door for smoking purposes and you have a design fault that needs correction.
Being from the Heath Robinson school of home engineering I assiduously avoided thoughts of fitting new doors and concentrated on easy wins. Perhaps the best idea is to fit a sort of hook and eye arrangement to the outside. With the right glue and the appropriate size and shape equipment I could manage this but I’ve not really investigated properly yet and I’m slightly worried that someone will try to open from the inside when hooked outside thereby either breaking or making a mess. Once I start gluing or screwing things to the UPVC outside I’m sort of committed and if it doesn’t really work then it’s going to piss me off.
Hence the shoelace. I recommend a long one, ideally taken from a pair of ankle high Converse All Star shoes owned by your Offspring. Tie one end around the handle of the door and wind the rest of the lace around until it is not hanging so far down that the cats think it’s great fun to attack it and try to destroy the blinds at the same time. Then, when you need to be on the balcony you unwind the lace as much as you need and go outside holding the loose end. When outside, tie the lace to the handle used to open out the sun blind or if you prefer you can poke the skinny end of the lace through the decorative hole in the coffee table (assuming not covered with snow) and then tie that off. If it is a short trip you can just hold the lace until you go back in.
If you want to add some pageantry, why not come up with your own version of “The Passing of the Lace”. When more than one person has gone to the balcony and someone needs to reenter the home there is a need to “pass the lace” to someone still outside. Frivolous use of costumes and trumpets works well although not late at night as the trumpets annoy the neighbours.
This product, which I have called “Balcony Freedom Lace” is guaranteed for a year although the loose end of the lace may lose the plastic shield that scrunches it together and allows you to poke through the decorative hole at any time from nine months onwards . No worries though, for a small monthly fee you can sign up for my “Service Pack” which guarantees you a new lace in the event of catastrophic failure plus one of our service engineers will happily come and “reverse” that lace for you should the plastic shield on one end fail prematurely. We also have a nice line in coffee tables that provide various ways to tie off shoelaces, just check the website for details – http://www.balconyfreedom.com
As there must be a goodly amount of pent up demand for such products at Strangely Park I am currently working on packaging and will then set up a small sales display at the security office.
Third balcony stat is for calculation of heat loss. You will notice that the snow never quite settles close to the walls or windows. This is because your apartment is losing heat, which is melting the snow. In our case, the distance the snow is from the windows is three times the distance it is from the walls. This is a clear indication of global warming and if you measure these distances regularly you can calculate how much of Greenland will disappear by the year 2025.
Finally is the “rate of grout decay”. Grout is the stuff used to fill the gaps between the tiles on the floor of your balcony. The constant ingress of water followed by freezing and thawing means that this grout will come loose. By my estimation you will lose 1m of grout every winter assuming the original job was done according to the usual standards of workmanship that can be expected from a Polish “Goldenhand”. Use this stat to calculate how many years will pass before your tiling becomes so unsightly as to need grout replacement therapy. If you then enquire how much this will cost, you can save a little each year and not be caught out by this unscheduled home repair cost.
Next week – ten things you need to know about your guttering.