It was our first big Summer storm since our return to the Pacific coast that clearly reminded us of the importance of proper house maintenance (and disaster prevention) in Mexico–or any country for that matter! While many of the hurricane warnings do get downgraded to tropical storms in the Bahia de Banderas area, it is still best to do some trouble-shooting and storm preparation prior to the grandeur and power of Mother Nature making her appearance.
Ensuring that the roof of your home has been properly inspected, sealed and protected against leaks and moisture intrusion should be a top priority. We learned this the hard way when our San Pancho rental grew large circular mold spores from the outside in after our first rainy season there. A disgusting and unsafe “inconvenience”, to say the least, and one that a layer of paint would not remedy! Needless to say, the roof had never been sealed. A slight oversight of the owners and as newcomers, a question we never thought to ask. Live and learn, in this case, the hard way.
Hire a reputable company to assess the roof’s condition and if needed, power wash it prior to putting on a quality sealant that has not been watered down. If you are renting, ideally your landlord has taken care of this very important detail, but it also wouldn’t hurt to have it assessed on your time and dime prior to the Summer rainy months.
There are various types of impermeabilizantes (sealants) available. Spending a bit more to ensure a quality result is well worth it. We went with this one, considering the amount of rain we receive here on the coast of Nayarit.
2. Check That All AC Compressors are Optimally Functioning
Speaking of roof maintenance, it is not such a bad thing to have the AC compressors (that are likely on the roof) checked for proper maintenance, wiring, etc. It is best to not assume that these important details have been tended to prior to your occupancy of the home. Taking matters into your own hands is not overkill. Trust me.
In our case, on one of our first nights in our beach rental, the powerful lightning came cracking down like an arrow landing a bullseye, resulting in one of our rooftop AC compressors catching on fire!
Fortunately I am married to a firefighter and knew that our family (and my nerves) were in good hands. The downpour extinguished the fire and the AC wires were changed out and the unit spared!
Jungle and central highland storms can be powerful, messy and destructive. They are equally exciting and regenerative–popping out the dense, lush, canopies of green and the multitude of ecosystems that thrive inside of them–reminding one of the absolute magnificence of Mother Nature.
3. Silicone is Your Best Friend
Rainstorms also provide an opportunity to identify where exactly more silicone is needed, like around the collection of leaking windows at the base of a 20-foot high boveda ceiling! Tall ladder anyone? Those first few falls on our slick marble floors were not so fun (especially while still recovering from spinal surgery!) and made us delay not in tending to this issue ASAP.
The jungle wasted no time in welcoming us back and reminding us of the fortitude, sense of humor and determination one needs to both survive and thrive in this thing called Life. Yes, there is a price to pay for living in paradise, folks!
4. Have All Air Conditioners Serviced
Have all AC’s serviced at least once every six months, if not more frequently. The filters should be cleaned of mold/dust/debris and the electrical panels checked for any unwanted critters that can wreak havoc. Apparently electrical wires are a delicacy to geckos–ridding your AC’s of them is far easier than having to replace the entire unit.
Screens on all doors and windows are not just a luxury but an absolute necessity lest you want to share your home with mosquitos, spiders, geckos, scorpions, iguanas and stray animals. Additionally, these-over-the-bed mosquito nets are must-haves and will allow for peaceful, uninterrupted sleep ( ie. no annoying buzzing in your ear or waking up to ankles full of bites!)
6. Drain Covers
If you want to prevent golf ball-sized flying cockroaches and sewer smells coming into your living space, you’ll want to get some of these.
Jungle living equals hot and humid for at least 6 months out of the year! Ventilate your home as much as possible to protect your clothes, shoes and other household items. Using these moisture absorbing bags inside closets and other closed spaces helps to absorb excess humidity and to protect your items from musty odors and mold.
Room dehumidifiers work really well and you’ll be amazed when you empty the water collection tank how much moisture they remove!
Make sure your outlets are grounded and wired correctly with a polarity tester or hire a qualified electrician to do so.
If you’ve been following us for any time, you know why we recommend carbon monoxide detectors for both home and travel safety. We recommend placing one in every bedroom and next to any gas-fueled appliance such as a stove, clothes dryer, hot water heater, fireplace and any freestanding gas heater. Of course we recommend smoke and explosive gas alarms too! All a small investment for peace of mind.
These House Maintenance Tips for Life in Mexico are based upon our own personal experiences from our now eleven years in country. I hope they are useful and help you to maximize your enjoyment and minimize your frustrations!
Do you have any other tips that you would like to add? If so, please feel free to share them in the comments section below.
House Maintenance 101 (Life in Mexico) Tried & True Reader’s Tips:
Arturo: For the summer months it is highly recommended to put your clothes in airtight/vacuum sealed bags so that mold doesn’t grow in them especially if you skip town. I highly recommend doing this process with your shoes because if you don’t, the soles will disintegrate completely from the salty air and humidity.
Margaret: Keep all your food in the refrigerator, even if you wouldn’t normally, especially fruit. Clean up your kitchen messes as soon as possible to deter unwanted scavengers and never ever ever let your kids eat in the bed unless you want… ANTS ANTS EVERYWHERE! (and they bite)! Even with screens and drain covers, if you leave food out they will find you.
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