Things to check before you hive off on your silly-season break
a contractor this year, the experience has not been too traumatic.
The industry is not in good shape and many household names have disappeared, often because of their own inefficiencies. But in other cases, some go to the wall because their clients attempt to grind them into the ground.
And there are some who just have not been able to cope with the current economic situation and have been let down in turn by either suppliers or subcontractors.
Unfortunately we work in an industry where, despite all the hype around enforcing regulations and the new Consumer Protection Act and all the other good things, we let ourselves down as consumers by chasing the cheapest price and thus encourage the growth of an unregulated industry.
I intend to start a crusade next year against unregistered contractors, and the bad habits that are once again beginning to challenge our industry.
I will be in Clanwilliam for three weeks where my limited practical DIY skills will be severely tested by my wife’s job jar but, as they say; you should practise what you preach.
I also hope to catch up on my reading, spend a little time on Killer Sudoku, spend lots of time in the kitchen cooking and, most importantly, spend time with my family and granddaughter, who really keeps me going.
I’m hoping that by this time next year I will have retired permanently to Clanwilliam, from where I can keep the column going and have the time to write a book on the matters we discuss every week.
On a more serious note, here are a few tips to keep in mind over the holidays.
Despite this week’s rain, we are now well into the south-easter season, so give the roof another once-over, to check that everything is well secured and that no tiles or other items are missing.
Make sure that all overhanging trees have been cut back away from gutters and that they are not blocking any alarm beams.
Check that your alarm system is working properly – many people do not set their alarms daily and suddenly find out at the last minute there is a problem. Remember to notify your response company that you will be away. Check that the back-up battery is in good condition and will function if we have power failures. Check the condition of batteries which may run other items, such as timers, smoke detectors and irrigation systems.
After a great break, nobody wants to come home and dive into a green swimming pool, so ensure that the pump is in good order and that the right chemicals have been added for the time you will be away. You also want to set the timer for longer than usual.
If you use gas for cooking and heating, ensure that all supplies are switched off.
Check that all door locks are functioning. Lock individual room doors behind you, remove the keys and either take them with you or leave with your neighbour. Have any broken window panes fixed and check that all windows close properly.
If your garden is watered from a well point or borehole, turn the water off at the mains, or switch off all stopcocks and ensure that all taps are off – many a home is flooded while people are away. Once everything is switched off, check that the water meter is not turning.
Finally switch all unnecessary electricity off at the distribution board. Where circuits are live, unplug all appliances from the plug sockets – an item left on standby is live and this, together with an overloaded adaptor, is one of the largest causes of domestic fires.
Ensure someone is collecting your post, picking up newspapers and having the garbage collected.
I usually avoid naming brands, but I have just acquired a new type of pool cleaner I believe is well worth the investment. It does not look like your classic cleaner, amuses the dogs for hours, is silent and really works.
I wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. Stay safe, remember that even if you are sober, there are hundreds of other idiots on the road. Steer clear of them. QUESTIONS & ANSWERS Patrick asks: “You referred in your column of December 10 to an anti-fungal wash. Some fungus has appeared on a roof beam in my garage. I was thinking of applying a solution of potassium permangate, but was put off by the idea of the purple liquid dripping on the car.
“What anti-fungal product should I ask for? The people at the shop I go to don’t know what I am talking about.”
Go to a hardware shop, where they will know what you are talking about. Anti-fungal wash is a product supplied by all the major paint manufacturers. Be extremely careful with your car – move it until the liquid has dried.
Figure out why the fungus is beginning to grow. Do you have enough ventilation, or a leak?
If your hardware shop is really at a loss, there are many easily obtainable materials that can be used to treat fungus – most household disinfectants, bleaches, or pool acid should do the trick, but remember to use safety equipment.
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