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HANDY MAC: Ready for the rain

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Gutters and downpipes need to be clear of blockages. Clogged drainage channels can lead to foundations being undermined

In Cape Town the rains are coming. A year ago we were preparing for Day Zero, now we have to be prepared for the rain.

After a lengthy dry spell, I can guarantee that you have cracks where you have never had cracks before or that certain areas around your home have sunk. It is important you check that when the heavy rains begin the water is going to be channelled away quickly and properly.

The first thing is to check the drainage channels at the bottom of your down pipes are functioning. Walk along the length of your channels and ensure all the joints are solid and that water can’t escape between them.

You also need to ensure that where they run along the side of a wall the gap between the wall and the channel is sealed so that if the channels do overflow there is no chance of the water finding its way down to your foundations, undermining them.

Also, sunken areas of paving need to be levelled as there is nothing that is going to make a problem worse than water pooled in a hollow.

Despite our dam levels being double they were this time last year, they are still only 46% full – 54% empty. There is still no excuse for us not to make every effort to save water.

Most of our storm-water flows out to sea, so please continue to catch whatever you can. Keep saving in tanks for the next dry spell and keep up the good habits learnt last year.

Q and A

Sindi has a roofing problem:

There’s no easy fix if an under-tile membrane hasn’t been installed. Picture: Supplied

Q: A tiled roof was installed, but they didn’t put in an under-tile membrane and a lot of cold air and dust is entering the house. Is there a way to fix this before the ceiling is installed?

A: There is no easy fix for this as apart from the dust the membrane also prevents tile uplift. I don’t know what contract you signed with the roofing company, but I would insist that they return and re-do the job at their cost as this is just pure bad practice.

If this is not possible, both problems will disappear once you put the ceilings in. However, it is not a long-term solution as the dust will just build up on the ceilings and to keep the house warm you would need to put insulation in the ceilings.

Another alternative is to put in a solid insulation under the tiles and between the trusses, something like Isoboard or Sagex. This would certainly help with control of heat and eliminate the dust. If you send me some photos I will try to advise further.

In addition, I think you should report the contractor for bad practice. This simply gives roofers a bad name.

Tip of the week

Stay switched on and check the timer on your geyser. Power outages can affect them. Picture: Supplied

Mrs Mac had a new light fitting hung last week and phoned me to check about something on the electricity distribution board. A couple of days later I wanted a shower, but found there was no hot water.

Between the electricians and the power outages the timer on our geyser had managed to switch itself off. I had been meaning to check it for months as I suspected it had been out of sync for a while, but you need a master’s degree to set ours. Thanks YouTube.

The moral of the story is: ensure that any appliance that runs on a timer be checked after a power outage or incident.


I received an email from Danie Hattingh, regional manager of Coverland, a leading supplier of cement roof tiles: Hi Don, Great article about roof tiles and the problems around ridge cappings.

That’s why we are moving more towards dry ridge fixing. It is great to know my column is being read by one of the industry leaders, but it has also got me thinking about how we can improve. I have known about dry ridge fixing for years but have never sent staff to be trained.

Currently we are concentrating on survival instead of preparing for the future. There are myriad new products and methods on the market, but we’re all trying so hard to survive we don’t have a spare moment to look at ideas.

Besides, why be a building artisan when there are easier ways to earn more money? It’s becoming a vicious circle: people import cheap products to be fixed by an unskilled workforce and then our buildings fail.

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


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