Man Made Condo waterleaks

May 29, 2013

Is it possible to create your own water leak in a condominium?  Absolutely!  But how?  Let me tell you.  Property managers and rental managers pay attention.

One of the easiest man made water leaks to diagnose is the leak that occurs from a plugged up or overflowing A/C condensation line.  Air_conditioning_unit-en.svgAn air conditioner is nothing more than a big air dehumidifier and cooler.  Air is drawn in to the unit through a large louvered area or door.  This warm, humid air then passes over a set of coils filled with a refrigerant (such as freon or glycol). When the air passes over these coils, condensation occurs, similar to a cold drink developing moisture on the outside of the glass. This moisture then falls off the coils into a tray or pan which is tilted to a drain.  This drain will then run to the outside of the unit to the ground.  The air is chilled as it crosses these refrigerated coils and recirculated into the room using a fan.

The drain that collects the moisture and takes it away from your A/C unit can and does become clogged with mold, mildew and dust.  The easiest way to remove the mold and mildew is to pour straight bleach down the condensation line twice per year, at the beginning of the warm season and at the end.  If this drain line becomes obstructed, the condensate will back up into the line, into the pan and proceed to spill over on to the floor.  Voila, man made water leak.

Why do property managers and rental managers need to know this?  Because, when you have folks coming from far away lands to spend a week at an ocean front condo, what do you think they want to do while they’re in that unit?  They want to listen to the sound of the ocean.  What’s the easiest way to do that?  They throw open every window and sliding glass door on the ocean so they can be surrounded by the sound of the sea. In doing so, they are bringing in this humidity laden air to be processed by the air conditioner and circulated back through the unit, setting A/C units at 65 degrees so the ambient temperature within the unit can be a ac unitcomfortable 72-75 degrees.  Most A/C units dehumidify air to between 40-60% moisture content.  Just a quick look at today’s weather in our part of paradise shows humidity levels at 89%.  With an A/C unit constantly circulating air that is so humid the A/C has to work overtime, degrading its useful life and the chances of a condensation line overfilling and creating a water leak have increased dramatically.

For property managers, the first place to look for a water leak in the summer is around the air handler unit.  For rental managers, educate your guests on keeping doors and windows closed to prevent leaks from occurring.


Boardwalk Maintenance Part 2

May 21, 2013

One of the things that happens in Florida that we have no control over is the erosion and natural rebuilding of the sand dunes.  Through tropical storms, hurricanes and even bad nor’easters on the east coast, the sand dunes underneath our boardwalks have a tendency to shift and move.  As a result, the boardwalks or dune walkovers become unstable and no amount of bracing or shoring up will help the situation.

If you are faced with a situation where your dune walkover or boardwalk has become significantly unstable, contact a marine boardwalk3construction company to help navigate all the necessities of rebuilding a dune walkover, including your state and local permitting.  Marine construction companies will be well versed in what is needed to restore your boardwalk or dune walk over.

How do you know your boardwalk or dune walkover is in need of structural repair?  One way to tell if your dune walkover is unstable is does it move when you walk on it or does it feel unstable?  If the answer is yes, you probably have an issue.  Another way to determine if your dune walkover needs attention, apply some side to side force just using your body, similar to rocking a boat.  If the boardwalk moves side to side you could have a problem.

If you are a Board member or association manager that is responsible for dune walkovers or boardwalks, do not stick your head in the sand when it comes to routine maintenance and possible structural repair of your boardwalk.  There has not been a coastline in Florida that has not had some sort of wind or water erosion.  Even long lasting nor’easters have an impact on the dune areas.  If the boardwalks or dune walkover areas for your oceanfront condo or home has seen better days, contact a marine contractor for an evaluation.

Boardwalk Maintenance

May 16, 2013

One of the great advantages of oceanfront condominium living is having the beach outside your door. But getting down to the sand will require some to cross the boardwalk, however short or long.boardwalk4

Boardwalk maintenance is one of those perpetual maintenance items. The boardwalks in our little slice of paradise usually have to span a distance of dunes to get from the buildings to the beach.  These boardwalks will span a distance of anywhere between 50 and boardwalk3400 feet.  It is typically the responsibility of the condominium, townhome or patio home association to keep the boardwalk in good working order.

Builders and developers often build their amenities with cost as the significant factor instead of longevity or quality.  The same holds true with boardwalks. As a result, most boardwalks are constructed of pressure treated lumber with galvanized fasteners.  This construction method for oceanfront condominiums will usually get around 5 years of useful life before needing significant upkeep.  The first upgrade for boardwalks is usually moving to stainless steel fasteners, preferably screws.  The first indication that there is a problem will be deck board buckling and pulling up.  This is a result of the galvanized nails rusting away and as the wood warps the deck boards pull up. Most of the time, these deck boards can be reattached with stainless steel screws with no other repairs needed.

Wash areas along the boardwalk will needed closer attention and repair. For a number of condominiums in our area, as you return to the building, a faucet is placed at the head of the boardwalk to wash the sand off of you, your chairs and your toys. This area, by way of being constantly saturated with water, deteriorates much quicker than others.  The boards become warped, splintered and slimey with mildew and the support structure underneath splits with no other way of fastening the deck boards. When this occurs, the ideal replacement could be composite decking.

boardwalk5When considering composite decking, make sure you take in to account the replacement of the supporting structures (stringers) underneath.  In areas that see a significant amount of water all the time, there’s a high probability the stringers underneath should be replaced as well. Not doing so could lead to additional work shortly after replacing the deck surface.  While we’re on the subject of support structures, follow the manufacturers suggestion for stringer spans underneath the decking.  Most composite deck manufacturers recommend a stringer span of no more than 16″ OC (on center). Anything more than 16″-20″ will result in your deck boards having a spring effect when walked on.

Routine inspection of your boardwalk will highlight any trouble areas early on.  Being vigilant with the upkeep and maintenance of your boardwalk will provide your association with many years of service.

Tips on pressure washing common areas

May 9, 2013

One of the biggest returns in regards to the appearance of your common areas is pressure washing.  Most common area items will shine like a new penny after a good cleaning which will enhance the appearance of your community.   Here are some tips to get the most bang for your pressure washing buck.

1. Hire a professional-While it may seem like a no-brainer to get a group of owners together on a Saturday to clean the pool deck or the entrance sign, you’ll have to rent the proper equipment and have enough hoses lined up to get water where you need it.  Sometimes its not worth the hassle.  Professional pressure washers will sometimes have tanks to bring water directly to the site its needed and larger commercial pressure washers that will do they job in short order.

2. Plan for off days-Pressure wash pool decks and clubhouse areas during non peak times to avoid interruption for people.  However, sometimes its unavoidable.  If you can’t avoid performing the pressure washing during peak times, make sure owners and guests are informed that the area will be closed temporarily.

3. Start with an inconspicuous area-if you plan to use bleach or TSP (trisodium phosphate) try it first on an out of the way area to make sure it doesn’t strip the color or cause damage. 

4. Use bleach or TSP-If the area you’re pressure washing is covered with mold or mildew, using bleach or TSP can remove the mildew and keep it at bay for 6-9 months, depending on humidity.

5. Flat surfaces-To prevent that “stripped” appearance, use a circular surface cleaner to clean sideways, driveways or decks.  

6.  Chemicals-Bleach and TSP are some of the preferred chemicals used to pretreat concrete areas.  However, muriatic acid will actually remove the top finish coat on a driveway or sidewalk.  Instead of muriatic acid, use oxalic acid diluted with water (pour acid to water, not water to acid) and scrub with a hard bristle broom to remove organic stains (leaves, acorns and nuts that leave tannic staining).  Rinse with clean water. 

These are just a few tips on how to get the best result from pressure washing your common areas.  If you plan to use a professional, discuss with the contractor the plans for water usage and negotiate if he/she plans to use your water.  Ask what type of chemicals will be used and how long they anticipate the project taking.  If you’re unsure where to look for a quality pressure washing company, contact your landscape vendor.  There’s a good chance they’ll know a reputable company to recommend.