Things to check be­fore you hive off on your silly-sea­son break

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - LIFE -

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.

Please keep ques­tions or com­ments com­ing to don@ma­cal­is­ or SMS only to 082 446 3859.

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