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How do summer rains affect Mexico real estate in Lake Chapala?

J. Brad Grieve

Rain clouds over Lake Chapala< © Taner Sirin, 2011
Rain clouds over Lake Chapala
© Taner Sirin, 2011

May is our hottest month when everything tends to slow down and everyone heads for the shade in the afternoon, trying to relax and get away from the heat. The days linger a little and it feels like the sun just hangs steady in the midday sky a little longer. Fortunately, the gentle breeze of a fan will help get relief and evenings cool off just enough to provide comfortable sleeping temperatures with the ceiling fan left on overnight. During May, I long for the air-conditioned office I left behind in Canada.

However, the anticipation of the rainy season is in everyone thoughts. The coffee gang will try to predict when the rains will begin. Some of the older ladies in the village believe the rains will be early since the cicadas or "rain birds" started earlier than normal. To me, the Fiestas in San Antonio Tlayacapan are the guaranteed sign that the rains will start.

As the rains begin, there is that smell of wet earth, as the layers of dust and grunge slowly melt off the roofs and sidewalks and wash into the streets. The showers quickly became a very intense rain. It comes down in torrents that overflow through the village and make certain streets look like the arroyos that, in some cases, they once were.

In front of my office, the rain splashed inside a bit since the door was open, but the rushing stream provided a calming background to the symphony of drops tapping on the skylight and roof. The splashing stream was highlighted intermittently with the hollow tumbling sound of cobble-sized rocks pushed along the submerged road surface as they rolled their way down the street. The only stressing sound was the futile attempts of a neighbor trying to start his pickup truck as the starter spun against the toothless part of the flywheel and did not turn over the motor.

The other sure sign that the rains have started is the line at the local hardware store the following morning. Three of the four clients ahead of me were hauling away small buckets of a roof sealant product. Now that the roof leak locations are obvious, the sealant and patches will quickly be applied. These leaks usually occur as the result of minor cracks or discontinuities in the exterior surface of the roof. These are the easy leaks.

However, after several rains, the less obvious leaks will start to show up. These obscure leaks are the ones that are enough to get past the last limit of the roof sealant and start to soak into the masonry material of the roof below. These are the ones that can damage your Mexico real estate.

There is not enough hydrostatic pressure during the rainfall to force the water all the way through the roof. However, after several rains, the water finally finds a seepage route through the roof structure and starts to drip from the interior ceiling, or to bubble out from an interior wall. These are the sneaky leaks that do not necessarily start immediately above the leak location.

The typical leak in this category starts in a minor imperfection on the upper portion of a sloped roof and then, via gravity, travels down the roof structure to a lower location on the slope where it finds it convenient to drip through the ceiling. In this case, patching immediately above the leak location will not stop leak and is especially frustrating, as the homeowner patches to no avail and the leak continues.

These are the times to call in a roofing professional and it is usually worth the effort to "just do it," which means to clean, repair and reseal the entire roof rather than use a hit and miss technique of patching. Hopefully, this will completely repair and seal the less obvious leak affecting your real estate investment in Mexico.

Published or Updated on: June 28, 2011 by J. Brad Grieve © 2011
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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