Spring is for sprucing up

José walks atop glass. The dark area is covered with shade cloth.

I wait till April and May each year to do repairs. It’s the height of the dry season, and outside renovations don’t run the risk of getting soaked. Quite a few have been done already, mostly at the Downtown Casita where painting, plumbing and electrical occurred.

Yesterday, one of my guys, José, did some minor exterior painting here at the Hacienda, and then he climbed atop the roof of the upstairs terraza with a pressure washer to remove a year’s accumulation of gunk. The interesting aspect is that the roof is glass. He treads lightly and tries to stay atop the steel beams.

Old faithful.

My focus now turns to the water heater, which is about 16 years old. We started out with an identical heater 18 years ago, but it failed after two years and was replaced for free because it was still under warranty. It’s a big sucker, and has always worked great.

It has a nonstop pilot light, however, and it sits quite near the propane tank, which concerns me a bit. Plus, I would like to spend less on gas. I tried to reduce gas costs years ago by installing first one solar water heater, then another. Neither were worth warm spit, so I’m turning to another solution, one of those on-demand heaters.

But I’ve had bad luck with those too. We installed one in the Mexico City condo, and it’s been quite temperamental. We installed another in the Downtown Casita some years back because the little cheap traditional heater the home came with worked poorly. The new on-demand heater was no better, so I installed a large, traditional heater, which works great.

Avera.

We also have an on-demand heater in my child bride’s pastry kitchen. It’s never failed us in seven years.

I’m going to buy an Avera instantaneous heater, probably the model that costs 3,199 pesos. It has great reviews on the Avera website, and I’ll also keep the old heater online. I can switch from one to the other. Another option is a modulating model. Anyone have experience with those?

Homeownership, never an idle moment.

A nice, tidy roof

Before I swept yesterday. The darker part is rainwater stain.

At least 17 years passed in which I never swept the roof of the dining room/kitchen. It was too much trouble because there was no easy way to get up there. But that changed a couple of years ago when we installed a steel stairway.

And that altered everything, access-wise. And then last spring I hired a painter who came with a pressure-spray machine. He blasted off years of grime, and laid a coat of red, waterproofing paint.

Before the restoration and waterproofing, the roof was brown from grime. It was so dreadful that there was something like algae growing around the edge. I’m amazed cacti didn’t sprout as I’ve seen quite often on roofs in Mexico, usually when they’re clay tile.

Before the stairwell was added, the only way to get to that roof was by ladder, and the ladder had to be set almost vertically, so it was a perilous challenge for an increasingly elderly dude, i.e. me.

You’ll notice a circular stairwell that goes up higher to the second-story roof. That stairway was on the upstairs terraza for 16 years until I had it moved to its current location so the upstairs terraza could be covered completely by the steel-and-glass roof it sports now.

And just visible on the second-story roof is our solar water heater, the second we’ve owned. The first wasn’t worth warm spit, and the manufacturer gave me a refund after about four years. The current one, a different company, has been there five years or so, and it’s defective too. Sometimes it forces scalding water through both the hot and cold faucets.

Yesterday, after bolting out of the upstairs shower stall, screaming, I climbed up and disconnected it entirely, and that’s how it’s going to stay. No more solar.

We’ll remain old-school. It’s not like propane costs a fortune.

Sweeping the roof

roof
Top of the Hacienda. Two chimneys, solar water heater, water tank.

NOBODY SWEPT the roof when I was a child in Jacksonville, Florida, certainly not my father who never showed any interest in home maintenance.

He focused on just three things: whisky, poetry and my mother, not necessarily in that order, but maybe.

It’s a good thing the Florida roof required no maintenance from my father. He likely would have stumbled off anyway. The flat roof was asphalt and gravel.

You don’t put a man focused on whisky and poetry atop a roof with no railings.

Years later, I bought my first house. That was 1986 in Houston, Texas. My second ex-wife still lives there, but let us not digress toward matrimonial horror. The roof was a gritty, sheet material that resembled glorified tar paper.

For mostly the same reasons that my father ignored his roof, I ignored mine, though I never paid attention to poetry.

And now I’m in just the third home of my life that isn’t a rental. The roof is concrete, and it has a gentle incline so it doesn’t collect water in the rainy season.

The only maintenance I give it is a yearly sweep, and I did that today, which inspired this information going your way.

While up there, via the circular staircase, I also wiped down the glass rods on the solar water heater. And I admired the view, which is spectacular, and I took this photo.

The roof is on its own until next year.

August roof view

ON THE ROOF recently to wipe the rods of the solar water heater, I took this video and snapped the photo below.

I’m a sharing sort of fellow.

At about 10 seconds into the video, you can see what I call the Garden Patio down there with the red water tank. It’s where I keep yard gear. And then at about 23 seconds you can see the solar heater at the left, briefly.

In the photo below, the brick surface is the roof of the kitchen. Farther along, the red tile covers the downstairs veranda.

In the upper right corner is the home of our grumpy neighbors, the ones with the horse, pigs, dogs, etc.

It’s fun to go up on the roof because the view is spectacular, not just the neighbors but the mountains.

roof

The only other video I’ve shot from atop the roof was made five years ago. It’s on YouTube, not Vimeo, and presents quite a different perspective. Plus, it’s got Hillbilly music!

The video was shot very early. That’s morning mist.

That’s all for today. Enjoy yourself.