Posted: Apr 16, 2020
Prep Your Key West Home for Summer
Atop the Lighthouse looking East

In Key West, Summer enters early and lingers later.  Generally its shorts and shirt sleeves from Easter to Halloween. The deeper we go into the Summer season the less change there is in the air; mid 80’s at night and low 90’s for day.  Humidity to match. Temperamental thunderstorms light the sky day or night and Hurricanes come what may. Early prep of your Key West house is imperative and must be done EVERY YEAR. My simple, 4-part preventive maintenance system has been and remains key to preserving the comfort and hominess of my 100 year old, Dade County Pine, Eyebrow architecture, Old Town home.  Here are the minimums  –

Tree Maintenance


In Key West, living may be easy in the Summertime but you better have your home ready for some uneasy disturbances, like horizontal rain driven by Max Knots.  For these good reasons Florida, and Monroe County in particular, has some of the strictest building codes in the nation.  As proof, whether it was the plethora of hurricanes in 2004 and 2005 or the close pass from Hurricane Irma in Fall 2017, nary a roof fell in Old Town Key West. Not so for trees.



Enormous mahogany, gumbo limbo, sapodilla, almond and royal poinciana trees decorate Key West.  But their roots have no place to go. Key West sits on cement hard, coral rock.  Roots that spread wide across shallow rock do not anchor a 30’ tree as sturdily as roots tapped deep.  For this reason it is imperative to have your trees trimmed on an annual basis.  A thick canopy captures the wind and over topples tree and limb on roof and property.  Here are my Arborist recommendations:



  1. Dot Palm Landscaping, Inc. John or Gigi. 305.743.3090
  2. The Tree Man. Sean Creedon. 305.900.8448
  3. Golden Bough Tree Service. Ken King. 305.296.8101
  4. Key West Tree Commission. Karen DeMaria. 305.809.3768


Make your reservation well ahead of time because Arborists in the Keys can get very busy, very fast. Final note, most homeowners policies do not reimburse for roof damage done by a toppled tree $$$.

Roof Maintenance

Victorian and Classic Shingles


Speaking strictly of roofs in Old Town Key West, roofing is easy – metal only.  If your house has Victorian or Classic shingles then you must replace with shingles.  If your roof is sheet metal then replace with sheet metal; that is, galvanized aluminum.  If you are building new property then you can choose either shingles or sheet metal.  Your permits and plans will identify which you prefer and if the City has a problem with your choice they will let you know.  Mostly, you make the call.


Advantages to metal roofing are simple; long life, durable in all weathers and easy to maintain. Inspect your roof at least annually.  Look for popped screws/rivets, rust or loose edges.  Forty knots of wind will turn these weak points into peeled panels, missing shingles and possibly water intrusion.  Better to remove, repair and replace at your discretion then after a storm (when others might be also inline).  Even if your roof looks ok, if it is 10 – 12 years old then that standard of installation (type of fasteners and spacing) has been updated.  Hire a roofer to update.  Fast, easy and way-less expensive than a new roof.


After any roofing job, contact your Homeowners and Windstorm insurance companies, you might get a reduction in premium. Here are my Roofing recommendations:


  1. Keys All Area Roofing and Waterproofing. April Kuhns. 305.296.5932.
  2. A Plus Roofing. 305.296.2568

If you have a BIG roofing job, either repair or new, and need a team of 8 – 12 roofers to handle the job then contact:


  1. Advanced Roofing. Christel Morizet. 954.522.6868 (Fort Lauderdale)

Pool Maintenance


Nothing says Florida like a pool in your backyard. At the end of a long hot day, oh man, a cold brewsky in the pool is a mercy. But pools don’t come easy. Chemical selection, surface erosion, pump and filter maintenance. My 15,000 gallon pool has a water surface area of 10’ x 30’ so keeping the pool in working order is a priority.  Most pool companies provide once a week cleaning and chemical services and if they do not have an internal repair and replace capability then they have an established referral.  My Pool recommendations are:



  1. Pool Man of Key West. Ben Bortner. 305.240.1462
  2. Aqua Clean Pool & Spa Service. Debbi. 305.797.8711

Air Conditioning

SEER 13 front, SEER 20 rear


I bought my wood frame, 100 year old house in 1984 and lived in it for three summers without air conditioning.  Tells you how many other priorities I had to complete before comfort became an issue. But now, a/c is like a gift from the gods, Willis Carrier to be more exact. 


One-third of my electric bill goes to air conditioning.  Every March I have an annual maintenance check performed on both of my systems; a 1.5 ton Rheem central a/c for upstairs and a 3 ton Rheem central a/c for downstairs. The inspection covers all system components, pressures and integrity.  Last March I upgraded my 15 year old downstairs Rheem SEER 13 to a Rheem SEER 20. Super-efficient and quiet as can be!  My electric company, Keys Energy, applied a $250 rebate to my electric bill. My air conditioning recommendations are:



  1. Total Temperature Control. Erica Coller. 305.296.7634
  2. Sub Zero AC & Refrigeration.  305.294.9243



These four items are the core of my scheduled maintenance budget and keep my house fully functional, safe and as worry free as possible.  If you are like me, my house is my largest investment and I would hate to lose it because I took it for granted.


If you have any comments or questions, please contact me here.


Good luck!