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Q&A with Handy Mac: Floor and water problems

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Mohammed has a noisy timber floor and Brian has bad water

Mohammed has a noisy timber floor.
I recently built a second floor on to my home. The original house had a flat IBR roof with parapet walls. I had valid reasons for opting for a timber floor instead of a concrete slab. I used pine tongue-and-groove flooring. I retained the roof sheets of the ground floor section, fitted the floor beams above the roof sheets and filled the void with Isotherm insulation to reduce any noise. Unfortunately, this did not work. Do you have any advice?

A: I am surprised that the noise is so bad if it is coming through Isotherm, the old roof sheets and presumably a ceiling. Possibly the old roof sheets are causing some kind of echo. I know the more dense a material the better it stops the transfer of noise.

Bulk stops noise, but a material such as Isotherm has much better thermal insulation qualities than it does noise. How do we solve your problem? I think you first need to confirm that the floor has been constructed properly. Are the floor beams the right size for the span and are they at the correct spacing? Anything over 400mm will lead to ongoing problems. Also, is the flooring the right thickness – it should be a minimum of 22mm – and has it been secured properly?

If this is all good, the only two solutions that come to mind are to remove a couple of planks and pump in a sprayable insulation material such as Therm-guard.

The other alternative, and I don’t know how much you love your pine floor, is to carpet it, but this might not be practical depending on what you use the floor for. This type of problem is best handled by an acoustical engineer. I have worked with a couple over the years. A Google search throws up quite a few around Cape Town.

Brian has bad water.
I have got a wellpoint, but I cannot use it to fill the swimming pool because of iron in the water. I took a sample to a pool service shop and they said I must not use it to top up my swimming pool. Is there any filter that gets rid of iron and impurities so I can use the water to fill the pool?

A: I am glad to see that everybody is still trying to save water as I really don’t know what the future holds. I am still buying bottled water and think how lucky I am that I did the conversions I did. Mrs Mac is doing the washing with what was “brown” water. The other reason we must continue to save is the looming price increase.

My own feelings regarding the City of Cape Town are that if they increase the cost of water, they had better ensure that we never nearly run out again. Don’t try to balance your budget by using water as an excuse; beware the power of the ballot box.

Back to Brian’s water. Every problem has a solution, although some at a greater cost than others. I am surprised that the pool shop just said no. Over the past few months, the effort put in by everybody around the city has shown these supposed problems are surmountable.

The first question is: is it a concrete or fibreglass pool? Fibreglass handles iron better, because it does not absorb like a concrete pool does. But before doing anything else, have the water properly tested by a laboratory. The iron will not kill you, but the water may have other nasties which might not be good for you.

My house walls are stained brown, but there is not a mark in my pool. Also, you don’t want to go for an expensive system if a cheap system will do the job. By trial and error, I discovered that the longer my pump runs, the cleaner the water, so I will water for 15 minutes and then top up the pool.

If it does need some kind of filtration, the cheapest is to pump it into a tank, through something like a shower head. This gets more of the water into contact with the air and you need to oxidise the water. Then you need to aerate or flocculate the water (pump in air) – a fish tank aerator works. Add soda ash and alum and you should be good to go.

Don’t draw water from the bottom of the tank as impurities sink to the bottom. You can take your water to Sam at Sam’s Irrigation in Bergvliet and he will offer good advice.

*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:

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