The Roof Is on Fire!
It was our first big Summer storm since our return to the coast from San Miguel de Allende that immediately and clearly reminded us of the importance of proper & savvy house maintenance in Mexico (or any country for that matter)! The lightning came cracking down like an arrow landing a bullseye, resulting in my jumping at least a foot into the air and one of our rooftop AC compressors catching on fire!
Fortunately for me, I am married to a firefighter and knew that our family (and my nerves) were in good hands. It was a powerful lightning bolt that caused the fire and thankfully the downpour that extinguished it. Glass half full, no?
Thanks to ingenuity and the reuse and repurpose culture of Mexico, the AC wires were changed out and the unit spared!
Jungle storms can be powerful, messy and destructive. They are equally exciting and regenerative–popping out the dense, lush, canopies of green and a multitude of ecosystems that thrive inside of them–reminding one of the absolute magnificence of Mother Nature.
The 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 after my back 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!
The following House Maintenance in Mexico 101 Tips~Tried and True are based upon our own personal experiences from our now nine years in country. I hope they are useful and help you to maximize your enjoyment and minimize your frustrations!
1. High-Quality Roof Sealant
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.
Hire a reputable company to assess the roof’s condition and if needed, to power wash it prior to putting on a quality sealant that has not been watered down.
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.
Having to climb up our tallest ladder to cover the mold spores coming through the unsealed roof into our bedroom was not my idea of fun!
2. Air Conditioners Serviced
Have all AC’s serviced at least once every six months. 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, trust me.
3. Over-The-Bed Mosquito Nets
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!)
4. 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.
5. Moisture Absorbing Bags & Room Dehumidifier
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!
6. Polarity Tester for Electrical Outlets
Make sure your outlets are grounded and wired correctly with a polarity tester or hire a qualified electrician to do so.
7. Carbon Monoxide Detectors
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 appliances such as a stove, clothes dryer, hot water heater, fireplace and any freestanding gas heater.
Recently we purchased these units that test for both carbon monoxide and combustible gas.
Of course we have smoke alarms too! All a small investment for peace of mind.
These are our House Maintenance in Mexico 101~Tried & True Tips.
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 in Mexico 101 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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For the summer months it is highly recommended to put your clothes in airtight bags or vacuum sealed bags so that mold doesn’t grow in them specially if you skip town. I highly recommend to do this process with your shoes because if you don’t, the soles will disintegrate completely from the salty air and humidity.
Absolutely Arturo, couldn’t agree more!
Thank you for participating in this comment thread. Going to add it to the article itself and see how many total we can all come up with!
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… 😛
You are right on Margaret!
Just say no to ants in the bed, yuck!
I tell my kiddos this all the time—no food in the bedrooms, lest they want to be sharing them with multi-legged critters!
Thanks for adding to the list of helpful tips!
We brought a SkeeterVac down with us. It uses four methods to attract mosquitoes into the trap.
It is also very effective for those nasty “noseeums”. The reason we do this instead of fogging with chemicals is twofold. The fogging chemicals are toxic and not even legal north of Mexico. Plus just as important we aren’t killing bees. If we have no bees…..we have no food.
Hi Trevor & Carrie!
Thank you so much for sharing this little tidbit! A very important one indeed, and I absolutely am on the same page with you about using non-toxic alternatives that do not disrupt our precious ecosystem.
Time to look into a SkeeterVac!
Saludos y un fuerte abrazo,
Katie & Family
Drain all fountains & eliminate standing water during the rainy season to discourage mosquitos. San Miguel is serious about discouraging the spread of Dengue & regularly sends inspectors to check your fountains.
Thank you, John, for sharing this very important detail. I do remember the inspectors coming by our home several times throughout the year in Atascadero to check for standing water. And lots of spraying too at night.