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HANDY MAC: What to do if things go wrong around the house while you’re in lockdown

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Jane writes to Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, about lockdown

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 such as your geyser and stove switched off, if the power still keeps tripping then you need to call for help 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. See 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.

* This is part of the HOME supplement’s Handy Mac series.


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