There is no user manual for all aspects of homeownership, from moving, to taking occupation and to maintaining and understanding common and uncommon defects. Albert van Wyk has more than 38 years’ worth of building experience and has put all he has learned into a concise, easy-to-use reference book entitled, The Proud Home Owner. He has granted HomeTimes exclusive access to republish portions of his book to help homeowners make better decisions around buying and selling, as well as maintaining their properties.
Always be alert to the smell of gas in the house. Teach the young members of your family what the smell of gas is and that they must warn everybody when they smell it. It is possible that the safety device can fail. Do not try to do any repairs or make changes to the pipes, but instead immediately get an expert. Never test for leaks with a flame.
Apply a soap-and-water mixture on every connection and watch for bubbles.
Do not make any illegal connections or allow them to be made by others. It is dangerous and it’s a fire risk. The insurance company might decide not to consider your claim after a fire was caused by illegal connections.
Install blank plug covers to unused plugs to prevent small children from putting their fingers into them.
Get acquainted with the rules of your local authority regarding their safety requirements. You are the responsible person for the safety of everybody on your full-title property. The body corporate is responsible in the case of a sectional title development.
Roof leaks will cause stained marks on the ceilings. Check the roof regularly in order to identify a leak early. Be sensitive to any dripping sounds, especially during a storm.
An annual visual inspection by an experienced contractor is necessary. He will be able to identify possible future leaks. Insurance companies are reluctant to consider any roof claim if it was not well maintained. The cost of a roof and leak claim is usually high.
Use binoculars if it is not possible to get on top of a pitched roof in order to do an inspection.
Look out for cracked tiles as well as tiles on the edges which could have been moved by the wind. After a few years the grout between the ridge tiles will crack and should then be redone.
Rainwater harvesting is the collection, storage and reuse of water on site, instead of allowing it to run off. It is recommended to install a first flush and leaf beater system on the gutters before the water enters the tank.
The first flush and leaf beater prevents any leaves and debris from the roof to enter the tank. The first flush removes sediment and dust from the first run off from the roof.
This water is ideal for irrigation purposes, but it can also be used inside the house after it is filtered. If the water is used in the house, a filtration and UV unit needs to be installed to make the water safe for human use.
Some 1mm of rain allows you to harvest 1L of water per m² of roof area – just allow for a 15% wastage factor.
An annual rainfall of 500mm on a roof surface of 50m² amounts to 25,000L of potential drinking water that can be preserved (40L per day for 625 days) or wasted! In South Africa, the drinking water allocation per day per person is 25L.
The total water usage in a house per person is 200L per person per day and this will give you water for 31 days for a family of 4.
Tanks can be installed underground during a new development, or above ground at existing houses. Water must go through filtration and UV treatment before it is fit for human consumption.
Connect the tank with a booster pump and a sediment filter only to your irrigation system and in order to top up the pool.
Connect the tank to the toilets.
Install a water purification system with UV and use the water for the entire household.
This way you also have a water storage buffer tank, and you can use this water when the water supply is discontinued.
Contact John at The Water Doctor: www.waterdoctor.co.za