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Annual home maintenance in Mexico

J. Brad Grieve

Mexico house © Christina Stobbs, 2010
Mexican homes have unique maintenance requirements
© Christina Stobbs, 2010

Spring has arrived! Easter is just over and it is time to think maintenance on your home. What annual maintenance issues have you been putting off that you should be reviewing, repairing or replacing?

Water purification systems

Home water purification systems tend to get ignored until one day you notice the Ultraviolet (UV) light bulb is not burning. Actually, the UV bulb should be changed annually and you should not wait until the bulb burns out. Just like a florescent tube/bulb, the UV bulb, will diminish in capacity over time. And diminished capacity means that it will produce less UV radiation and hence loose its ability to kill pathogens in the water it is supposed to purify. Hospitals that use UV radiation to purify air in ventilation ducts for surgery rooms change the bulbs once a year, at minimum. This is why it we recommend you change the bulbs once a year.

Roof sealants

Some people recommend that you seal your roof once a year. In reality, this seems like overkill since some roofing products are "guaranteed" for more than one year and up to 10 years. If a roof sealant (typically, a painted-on product) is applied correctly (to a clean and prepared roof surface), it should last longer than just one year, as some people believe. However, what needs to be done annually is that the roof drains should be reviewed. They should be cleared of any debris to prevent the drains from being blocked, causing puddles of water to be trapped on the roof surface. If possible, roof drains should be inspected prior to and during the rainy season to assure that any debris such as tree leaves, garbage, etc. is not at or in the drains. Ideally, rain water should be able to drain off of any roof freely and quickly; why would we want the rain to hang around and find a way into and through the roof structure?

Secondly, during the annual review of the roof (prior to the rainy season) the roof should be reviewed to assure the roof sealant is intact and not damaged or perforated in any way. The whole perimeter of the roof — including the parapets, bases of chimney(s), interconnections between sloped roofs and vertical walls, brick domes (i.e. pañuelos, cupolas, barrel vaults, etc) need to be reviewed and to make sure no cracks have formed that could become points of penetration for rainwater.

If the sealant damage and cracks are isolated, and are not part of an overall pattern of poor roof maintenance, selected patches could be applied to help the roof survive another rainy season. If you are not sure, ask for professional help.

Water supply

Another annual event for a house is to check your water supply. Some homes have underground water cisterns (aljibes) and/or roof tanks (tinacos). These storage elements need to be kept clean as part of a healthy water supply system. Sand or dirt can enter through the supply water from the street and settle into the aljibe or the tinaco (if connected directly to the street water supply). These can also be a place where algae, mold or fungus can form, especially if water is allowed to remain stagnant over a period of time.

Another danger with aljbes is that element that the roots of plants or trees can grow into them. If left unattended, these roots can cause structural damage to the cistern. In roof tanks, I have witnessed dead animals, wasps or other insect nests, depending on the quality of lid or cover on the rooftop water tank. At minimum, an annual review of these two water storage elements will assure they are clean and in good working order.

It's the little things

Remember to check the windows, doors, locks, cabinetry and shelves in your home. It is usually worth the simple process of checking hardware on cabinets, doors, windows to lubricate the hinges and mechanisms with a little WD-40 or other lubricant spray. The same is applicable to your locks to assure another year of use without incidence. Also, use a screwdriver to tighten any loose screws you discover before they work themselves to a point of damaging the frame holding the window or door.

To conclude — these annual maintenance tasks will help you avoid future problems, and I think it is safe to say that everybody has a screw loose… somewhere in the house.

Published or Updated on: April 29, 2010 by J. Brad Grieve © 2010
Contact J. Brad Grieve

J. Brad Grieve is a professional civil engineer who has lived and worked in the Lake Chapala area since 1994. He is the owner of Ajijic Home Inspections and you can be reach him by phone: (376) 766-2836 or e-mail.

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