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HANDY MAC: Tidy up loose ends during lockdown

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Assuming you are not an essential worker, by now you have been at home for eight days if you have been following the rules.

You and your partner aren’t speaking, the children are bored, and the dogs are looking at you pleadingly. What can we do to make the situation better? I am not a psychologist – all I can offer is some DIY.

I am writing this while still trying to tidy up loose ends from work but at the same time am putting my list of things to do together, obviously with lots of help from Mrs Mac who has already been up a ladder into our roof void to get down the old wheeled shopping basket. She has big fitness plans for me.

I am going to try to get some long outstanding jobs done and have some fun. I know many people rushed off to the hardware store and bought materials so they could get to work, but I did not have a chance to do that so will have to use what I have.

Making a list is very important to me, so I am going to wander around the house, select one item in each room that I know I am capable of sorting out and then get stuck in. I won’t bite off more than I can chew so that I’ll end up with a sense of satisfaction rather than failure. We are not all as young and fit as we would like to think we are, so don’t overdo things.

Everybody has a lot on their minds at the moment so please concentrate on what you are doing – accidents happen quickly so take care. You might also be going to use some tools that have been lying on the bottom shelf for a while, so don’t just plug them in and switch on until you have checked the wiring.

Ensure all the nuts and bolts are in place and all the safety guards are still where they are supposed to be. Remember to use the right tool for the right job, substituting can lead to serious accidents – rather leave the job than use the wrong tool.

For fun I am going to go through all my shelves and drawers, find some of those things I have bought and never used and see what I can produce. This is a time to test your arty side, for example take your left-over paints and paint a mural on the garage wall.

Q and A

Jane is worried about looking after herself for the next few weeks:

Q: Hi Don, I am single and live alone in a detached house. What do I do if things go wrong?

A: That’s a hard one as there is so much that can go wrong in a home. And by the time you are reading this, the situation may have changed. At this stage, as I write, the government is still allowing emergency services to operate so I presume that you are covered for plumbing and electrical problems.

My company has registered one emergency team to operate during the lockdown to secure damage caused by storm or fire. But let’s look at some potential problems.


If you have an emergency, the one thing you must do is switch off the mains water supply. So for now, make sure you know where the main stop-cock is, that it is accessible and that it is not rusted or jammed solid. The quicker you get the water off the less the damage. If something bursts in the roof void, punch a hole in the ceiling so that all the water drains out in one place which makes it much easier to catch in a bucket.


Problems with electrics are not something to fiddle with yourself. Current is dangerous, and we don’t want you getting a nasty shock, so be careful. If the power keeps tripping, unplug every appliance in the house – don’t just turn off the switch, pull the plug out of the socket. With every plug out and with things like your geyser and stove switched off, if the power still keeps tripping then you need to call the man because it is not a DIY problem. If the power stays on, then start switching appliances back on and plugging your other fittings back in. Carry on until the power trips again and hopefully you have found the guilty item which can then be isolated.


The other thing I don’t want you to fiddle with is gas. If you smell gas and you don’t know how to switch it off quickly, evacuate the area and call the fire brigade. Seriously, I have seen some near catastrophes around gas barbeques, not to mention houses destroyed by dodgy gas cylinders.

Burglar alarms

These have a habit of going off for unknown reasons and if you can’t get a technician out, there are a few things to check. Check that all windows and doors are properly secured and the sensors are making contact. If you have outside beams, check that strong winds aren’t blowing tree branches across them and setting them off.

Apart from that, stay home, stay safe and let’s beat this thing.

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