Meadows at Martin Downs Homeowners Association, Inc.
2550 Waterfall Blvd., Palm City, FL 34990
Phone: 772-283-2250 Fax: 772-283-9024
Meadows Home Maintenance Tips
Contributed by Walter Sokolowski
Preventive maintenance in and around the home will extend the life of many
items, help avoid premature breakdowns and keep the home both attractive and
functioning properly. To that end, homeowners should consider the recommended
procedures listed below.
Under no circumstances should homeowners undertake repairs or modifications
to any equipment or appliances currently still under warranty or service
contracts. Such action would likely void coverage.
Homeowners are urged to secure professional and licensed personnel for maintenance work and repairs exceeding their competence or skills.
[Neither The Meadows Homeowners Association, the author or the editors assume
any liability in connection with the implementation by homeowners of the
suggestions and recommendations which follow.]
Money Saving Tips
- Create a log of repetitive procedures to ensure that routine
maintenance is performed on schedule.
Florida Power and Light offers grants to encourage homeowners to undertake
the following home improvements: AC duct system check and upgrade; window
treatment; AC replacement upgrades; roof or ceiling insulation upgrades; and
Load Management Program (beneficial for year-round residents). Contact FPL for additional information and to schedule an appointment with a
- Replace incandescent lights with fluorescent lights wherever usage
will justify the cost. For example: The advantages of replacing an
incandescent bulb reaching temperatures of 300
F and consuming 150 watts of power with a fluorescent bulb operating at 100° F and using only 34 watts are obvious. Although their initial cost is higher,
fluorescents last up to 10 times longer, generate far less heat (hence less
air-conditioning) and only use about 20 % of the power of an equivalent
- Wherever practical, reduce the wattage of incandescent bulbs or
install dimmers and/or timers on fans and lights.
- Install Whole-House Surge Protection (at the circuit breaker power
panel) to reduce, or eliminate damage to household electrical equipment and
appliances, resulting from lightning strikes or transient electrical surges
entering the house over the power lines. A similar device on the telephone
line will protect answering and Fax machines.
- Check water heater thermostat and reduce water temperature setting
from 140° F to 130° F
to cut the risk of scalding while saving energy.
- Wrap an insulating blanket over the water heater to increase energy
- Check Smoke Detectors annually by pressing the red button with something like a broom handle.
- Periodically totally discharge any appliance or tool that operates on rechargeable batteries.
Air Conditioner / Heater
- Clean or replace the return air filters of the AC unit. Check for a
second smaller filter in the main bathroom. Upgrading and maintaining clean
filters will ensure top AC performance and reduce the chance of dust
deposits building up on the fan and ducts thereby reducing overall system
- The interior of the air handler and its drain must be kept free of
mold and mildew. Inspect it at least once a year and spray with an algaecide
when performing the necessary maintenance. Periodically, the squirrel cage
fan and motor should be inspected, cleaned and lubricated (as required).
- Install a humidistat in series with the thermostat (if the home is
not occupied for a month or more in the summer). During your absence, this
device can reduce the AC power consumption by as much as 75%!
- Installing an electronic thermostat will protect the AC compressor,
result in better temperature control and allow for system time/temperature
- Purchase an electronic thermometer/hygrometer to properly monitor
cooling and humidity levels, especially in the humidistat operation
- Lubrication of the outdoor AC fan (if called for) should be done
- Make sure the outside unit is kept clear of dirt and debris, inside
and out, and that rainwater completely drains away from the base. Clean,
prime and paint any rusted surfaces.
- Discourage anthills from damaging the AC unit by regular
application of an insecticide around the base.
- Reduce moisture buildup inside the home by hanging wet towels
outside, using a squeegee on wet walls after showering, keeping toilet lids
down, lids on pots while cooking, etc.
- Use paddle fans to increase the efficiency of the AC/heater
- Check with an AC maintenance firm to see if the air handler fan can
be operated at high speed (in the heating mode) to increase efficiency.
- Insulate AC ducts to increase cooling and heating efficiency.
- If a mildew problem arises, it can be treated with either an ozone
generator or formaldehyde. Caution is advised when using either!.
Garage Doors, Doors/Attic
- Lubricate garage door rollers, hinges, roller pins, motor gears and
drive chain with grease. Lubricate the door-wide rod with oil and spray the
large balance springs with WD-40, to stop rust and minimize friction and
- Lubricate the garage door sweep and all other door sweeps and seals
with Armorall to extend their service life as well as provide smoother
- The garage can be upgraded with aluminum-faced door insulation to
reduce heat buildup in south or west facing garages.
- The existing garage door (in many homes) is vulnerable to damage from
winds exceeding 70 mph without additional bracing. The garage door
can be upgraded to meet latest building code standards. This is a job for a
- To protect the garage door from windstorm damage, add gate bolts to
the bottom of the door which will fit into holes drilled in the cement
- To help in precisely positioning one or two full size cars in the
garage, install one (or two) old tennis balls on a string. They should just
touch the windshield (at the rear view mirror location) when the cars are
- If your car emits a musty odor when the AC is started, purchase a
special algaecide spray from an auto supply store and spay it into the air
intake, as per instructions.
- Remove door pins and lubricate with light grease.
- At least once a year, lubricate patio door wheels with a spray of
WD40 or special aluminum track lubricant to reduce wear.
- Attach thick foam rubber weather stripping (as bumpers) to sliding
wardrobe doors to minimize slamming.
- Distribute mouse and roach bait in garage and home attics as a
- Replace central vacuum dirt bag when needed and wash the secondary
filter at least annually.
- Either re-coat as needed, or initially stain garage floor. Refer to
the Meadows information sheet for specific details.
- Add an exterior door sweep to outward opening doors not so
- If the water main valve (gate type) no longer shuts off the water
flow completely or should break when turned, replace it with a more reliable
- Check the bottom of all exterior door wood trim. If it is
deteriorating, repair the damaged area and seal the area where the wood
comes in contact with the concrete with acrylic silicone caulking.
- Periodically utilize (insecticide) foggers to control potential
roach and insect incursions into the attic.
- Tarnished hardware on the exterior door can be refinished in lieu of a
- In the attic, if the plastic clips securing the water pipes going
to the kitchen are breaking, replacements should be installed to reduce
stress on the plastic pipes.
- The attic exhaust fan motor should be lubricated annually with a
non-detergent mineral oil or replaced if it seized up.
- The original power exhaust fan covers were made of plastic and have
deteriorated over the years. They should be replaced with a metal cover to
ensure continued integrity. Call the Meadows office for a referral to have
this work done.
- The Hampton model homes were built without eaves’ vents along the backside of the house. The addition of at least 6 or more vents
will help keep the attic cooler.
- Caulk around plumbing/conduit pipes to discourage the incursion of
- If noise develops when the toilet tank is filling and/or the water
level in the bowl is lower than normal, replace the complete toilet tank
fill valve assembly.
- Check drawer tracks. If the rear of the track is anchored with a
staple, add a single screw to prevent the drawer from falling when pulled
- To ensure that the large bathroom mirror remains secure, add at
least two anchored clips to each mirror.
- Place strips of Styrofoam between the toilet tank and the wall. This will
prevent the toilet tank base from cracking when backward pressure is
applied to the tank.
- At least annually check and clean dust on refrigerator coils, fan
and motor. Clean the evaporator pan more frequently.
- Install thermometers in both the refrigerator and freezer to
monitor and properly adjust refrigerator temperatures.
- Clean kitchen exhaust hood filters with detergent and a hot water
- Utilize ant bait such as Terro and spray insecticide inside and
outside the kitchen, to control the small sugar ants that frequent
- Replace both clothes-washer hoses some time before 5-10 years of
service. This will eliminate likelihood of hoses bursting with subsequent
flooding of the home. Metal-braid reinforced hoses cost more but are far
- Clean and seal all tile grout to discourage staining.
- Annually clean and lubricate bathroom exhaust fans, to maintain
efficiency and reduce wear.
- Add pull out baskets and extra shelves (e.g.,54 over the microwave) to
increase kitchen storage capacity.
- To clean dirt and mildew, use a cupful (8 oz.) of bleach, plus ¼
cup of TSP in 2 gallons of water and apply with a chemically resistant
tank-sprayer to gutters, fascia, screen room door and supports. Leave for a
few minutes then pressure wash, or hose off. Reapply if the stains persist
and use a brush/broom to loosen stain if no pressure washer is available.
- Rust stains can be removed by applying Rustaid. Brush tough stains,
then rinse with hose or pressure washer. If the concrete surface was coated
with a color stain proceed as follows: 1) hose down the area with water; 2)
apply Rustaid diluted 1 measure of Rustaid to 2 measures of water; 3) promptly
hose off with water. This should prevent bleaching of the concrete color
- Fill cracks or voids in outside wall surfaces with acrylic silicone
caulking to eliminate water penetration. Color-coded caulk is available at
MAB paints on Monterey Rd.
- Mildew stains on concrete
can be cleaned with the application of
bleach from a garden sprinkler and, if a pressure washer is not available, the
use of a push broom to loosen any tough stains. Either pressure wash, or hose
off the surface. Follow the formula in item 2 to avoid bleaching stained
- To stain concrete surfaces use H&C Silicone Acrylic Stain
specially tinted to match the color of natural concrete. This will improve
appearance and reduce the maintenance of any concrete surface. Check with
the Meadows office for an and make sure only the approved custom color is
used! Meadows Architectural Change approval is necessary for this work.
- A professional window cleaning detergent, mop and window squeegee
make window washing much easier and will result in cleaner windows.
- The window counter-balancing spring assembly can be repaired or
- Install small cup hooks on window frames to secure blind chords.
- Periodically check irrigation sprinkler heads for adequate water
flow or obstructions and clean filters/nozzles. Add plastic pipe around
hedge and garden sprinkler heads to protect the heads and risers.
- In the garden use plastic weed block and mulch to minimize weed growth.
Roundup or similar herbicides can be used to reduce the frequency of
- A variety of pests can be prevented from entering your home by
applying Diazanon or Dursban granules around the house perimeter. A strong
(6-8 oz. to 2 gallons of water) mixture of liquid Diazanon or Malathion
sprayed on the foundation and adjacent soil will have the same effect. Take
care not to spray any plants with this potent mixture, or they will die.
Refer to each product’s "directions for use" on its container
for the exact formula. This formula also works on voles and moles that dig
up your lawn. Just poke a hole in the mound and pour in the specified amount
of the mixture.
- A long-lasting and environmentally friendly treatment for slugs,
roaches, ants and earwigs is Diatomaceous Earth used in pool filters. It
is ground seashells. Avoid inhaling the fine powder by using a mask when
spreading the powder on the ground.
- Improve screen room drainage by shimming up the lower screen
support by about 1/16 of an inch.
- Use a Bait Box containing a solid rat & mouse bait to control exterior
- Eradicate fire ants by applying Fire Ant or Diazanon granules to
the mound (without disturbing the mound) and watering in with a gentle
- Correct poor drainage problems before secondary damage takes place.
- Eliminate the chance of frogs, snakes, etc. entering plumbing vents
by placing hardware cloth (galvanized metal screen with ¼ inch holes) into
the top of the vents.
- All windows and patio sliding doors should be protected with storm
shutters or panels.
- Exterior doors, which open inward, should be braced.
- Garage doors require upgrading (refer to Garage Door item) and/or bracing.
- Skylights and powered exhaust fan covers can be upgraded. Contact the Meadows Office to obtain contractor names.
- All loose items on patio and in garden should be brought indoors or adequately secured prior to a storm.
- Storm panels installed prior to 1995 do not meet current building code standards. However, they can be upgraded with horizontal braces to make them more than twice as strong.