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HANDY MAC: Look after cables

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Faulty appliances can lead to fires, so make sure all your electrical equipment is well maintained and stored correctly, especially the cables, which are prone to fray and become worn out

With a family wedding on the horizon, there is plenty to keep me busy at home. Mrs Mac not only wants the house re-built and decorated before the guests arrive but I am also expected to continue to do my share of household chores. I don’t object – after all, it means more DIY challenges.

If you are on a similar mission, I suggest you first pay attention to one of my pet fears – fires caused by electrical appliances. Usually it means cables in poor condition.

So, household chore No 1, inspect the vacuum cleaner brushes, usually wrapped tightly with old fibres, causing the motor to overheat. Not a major problem but then as I begin to re-fit the brushes, I notice the lead for the cleaner has not been “packed away” in nice long loops but wrapped in tight curls – not good as the wires will not take long to break.

I am not certain if it is just me, or because my father was a ship’s captain, but I hate seeing cable, wire, rope or hosepipe left in untidy heaps. To extend their lives for years, take the time to store these items away properly and make sure never to switch on any electrical item if its attachment is in a tight ball.

This leads to over-heating as a resistance builds up. When they melt, watch out, it’s fire time. Many householders are untrained in the use of even the most expensive equipment. Read the installation instructions carefully, seek advice and remember to check cables at all times.

If you employ staff, it is your duty to ensure they are trained in the use of equipment. If something is broken or damaged, it is your fault if you have failed in this basic necessity.


What better way to begin the year than with a tip from Bob, who supplies the following feedback about the last column of 2019, which featured a picture of a cat. Seeing the picture of the cat in your column prompted the following hint. All cats by nature have to scratch and sharpen claws.

With 18 sabre-like claws in their armoury they can do a lot of damage to antique furniture and carpets.

Here’s the perfect remedy. All carpet emporiums have obsolete carpet samples with neatly stitched borders. They are in the form of a book-like folder and since those carpets are outdated they will give them away. Put those in the most vulnerable areas and introduce your pussies to them. I was never a cat lover until a few years ago when a semiwild large cat regularly waited for me on Friday nights at the garden gate and stayed in at weekends. You don’t have to buy fancy “pet toys” when you can easily make your own or improvise to protect possessions.

Tip of the week

Ensure there is no damp before beginning paintwork. Picture: Supplied

We have discussed preparing different surfaces for painting. Is it paint time? No, not yet. First, you should ensure all surfaces are dry – specifically check you do not have a damp spot or two.

There are products on the market which work for a while, but eventually pressure will cause the paint to blister. Damp must be cured at source. And, if it is seeping through a wall, the exterior must first be sealed.

All visible cracks must be treated. Remember, it’s no good just sticking in filler. Check with your paint shop what type of filler to use where.

Back to cracks. They need to be opened and prepared to ensure the filler stays in.

Begin by running the edge of your scraper down the crack at right angles, then again at a 45 angle from both sides to form a reverse V. Brush to remove all loose dust, then wet the crack lightly with a small brush to help the filler bond to the surface.

Be sure to mix the filler as per instructions, then fill the crack using a proper filling tool. Scrape-off a couple of times. Once it is dry, sand with fine sandpaper.

If you have a question for Don, send it to or SMS only to 0824463859. 


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