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Q&A with Handy Mac: Damp and doors

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Paresh has a problem that we all have at some stage in our lives and Chad has a problem with his external doors.

Q: I don’t think my en-suite shower area was waterproofed before it was tiled as there is damp in the cupboard base and flaking of wall paint in the adjacent room.

CTM’s advice was to put liquid sealer over the grout, but the problem persists. Some guidance would be appreciated.

A: There are so many reasons for damp coming from shower bases, that I am beginning to think the best cure is to rip everything out and start again. However, there are some really good leak detection companies and with modern technology most leaks are traceable if you are prepared to spend R1 000 to start with.

The problem is the water can be coming from a variety of points: a leaking pipe, a leak from the joint between pipe and taps, bad sealing around the taps and tiles, bad grouting, a leaking waste trap or just a total lack of waterproofing.

Many people believe waterproofing behind the tiling is a waste of money. I disagree. I also disagree with the advice Paresh was given to paint a sealer over the tiles; at best this is a short-term solution.

There is a simple test you can do to assess the water-tightness of the shower base. Remove the drain cover and block the waste pipe. Put an inch or so of water into the base and let it settle. Then put in a few drops of dye where you think the weak point might be, and see if the dye migrates towards it.

Once you decide on repairs, do a complete job if you are lifting the base. Take off at least the bottom three rows of tiles and waterproof the base and up the walls with a quality product such as Cemflex.

Q: I have wooden doors showing signs of age. They leak when it rains and the doors are starting to rot. Is there any way to have these repaired?

A: A good carpenter or joiner can cut out the rotten part and put in a replacement. Modern tools and adhesives mean that just about anything can be cut out and a substitute piece of timber inserted, especially if it is in an area of the door or window that is not structurally important to the operation of the fitting.

The other material you can use to repair missing or rotten timber is auto body filler. There are many u-tube clips showing how to do this. There are of course also specialist fillers on the market but auto body filler seems the way to go. This also reminds me to check all my doors and windows.

I know I have a couple of sticking windows in hidden areas which might be starting to rot. Never try to force a sticking window; ease it slowly, because the frame of the casement is usually quite narrow and will collapse easily.

*Handy Mac, aka Don MacAlister, is our expert on household DIY issues. If you have a question for him, please send it to or SMS only to 082 446 3859. Find Don on FB: Like us on Facebook



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