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HANDY MAC: Gremlin gripes

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Pesky pests continue to plague the Mac household, but with quick-thinking, some issues are solved

We have been in pest control mode this week, as well as having a leaking pipe in the roof again. Thank goodness the leak was over the drip tray so there was no inside damage.

The last time it happened the plumber advised it was time to change the pipe. At the time I advised all my readers to regularly check your piping, but of course I didn’t change the pipe. Have you checked yours?

On the pest front I had to call my friend John the gas man because the friendly neighbourhood squirrels had been having a go at my flexible gas pipes again, even though I had wrapped them in layers of heavy duct tape. The pipe was replaced and is now covered with a bending spring. Hopefully we have a solution.

Bending springs cover gas pipes after squirrels chewed them. Picture: Supplied

Other pests we have are breeding turtle doves continually trying to nest in our outdoor kitchen/ braai area. We have gone from spikes to imitation snakes, an imitation owl to numerous wind-chimes and other dingle dangles, but if those doves are in breeding mode, it appears nothing will stop them.

In desperation Mrs Mac invested R1 000 in an ultra-sonic strobe-light flashing device which was guaranteed to scare anything away. The doves seem to think it is there purely for their entertainment, and are happily flying around it and nesting next to it.

As I write this I can see a dove sitting right underneath it, but we have erected a temporary barrier between their nesting and my cooking area. This morning Mrs Mac stormed off to the hardware shop, arrived home with a length of shade cloth and demanded that it be attached to the beams and floor to cut off access.

Daniel and I obliged, but in the future I am not sure how I am going to remove it in order to braai between the rugby and football matches. Now the score is Doves 10, Macs 0.

Q and A

Open windows and good ventilation will minimise mildew. Picture: Tobia Seward

Q: I have stubborn mildew stains in my shower. I have been using Domestos, but because it’s so strong, it gives me a nasty cough, even though I wear a mask and drink milk after spraying. Can you recommend an effective, cost-effective way of removing these mildew stains? 

A: It is amazing how often this one comes up. It is probably one the most-asked questions, and one that we will always have until everyone understands the value of ventilation. Steam and lack of ventilation equal mildew.

There is no escaping this basic fact. If you continue to have this problem you first need to address your ventilation problems. Because of crime, we may be nervous to leave windows open, but you are not going to get insurance unless you have adequate burglar proofing, so begin by ensuring you can leave bathroom windows open.

Of course, some bathrooms are in the middle of the house without windows. In this situation an extractor fan is essential, preferably one linked to your light switch.

If I was ever to build my own home again, one of the first things I would install would be extractor fans, if not a fully ducted system, for moving air around. Lolly is still left with the problem of getting rid of the mildew.

I am glad to here she is wearing a mask, and that already seems to indicate a lack of ventilation. Everyone reacts differently to different chemicals, and with so many options on the market you will find one that suits you.

The earlier you catch the problem the easier it is to wipe off. As I mentioned a week or two ago, Mrs Mac now keeps a spray bottle of bleach in the shower and sprays at the first sign of mildew. Dettol is a less invasive material.

If you look on the shelves of certain stores you will find environmentally friendly products.


Put citizen’s interests before that of developers. Picture: Supplied

I am happy to report that the situation surrounding the building adjacent to heritage properties in Gardens has been noted by the appropriate authorities. 

Engineers have now been appointed by both the parties and checks are being undertaken to ensure all the appropriate plans and notifications are in place and approved.

There have been far too many negative reports recently of developments going ahead without approval, or at best dodgy approval, and I urge all authorities of whatever political persuasion to put the interests of your cities and citizens first, rather than those of the developers.

Tip of the week

Always ensure your ladder is safe
and stable.
Picture: Anaya Katlego

As promised, back to painting. You should now be armed with brushes and rollers, so the next stage is to get you up safely to those higher areas. How high should you consider going yourself?

It is one thing to have a head for heights, but it is an entirely different proposition to work at height. I often stop my car and stare in horror at balancing acts I see on long, wobbly ladders with no thought for the painters’ safety. The ladders are not secured, and there is rarely a sign of a safety harness or hard hat.

If you are considering painting your double-storey home yourself, think twice, then call a professional. And then ensure they work safely off a scaffold. For your single-storey DIY jobs, ensure you have a three-step and a six-step ladder, both of good quality and stable. Always work off a flat and stable base.

For the higher areas I would recommend a telescopic extension ladder. They are expensive, but give you a good range of heights. I am not a great fan of those folding-into-any-shape extension ladders.


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