The average home in South Africa is exposed to regular downpours of rain, so it is no surprise that damp can become a big problem in many homes throughout the country, especially in view of the flooding experience in certain areas.

Although most damp problems are much less serious than they actually look, whatever the cause, damp can be very bad for our health and can lead to extensive damage, resulting in costly repairs.

Here are some of the main causes of damp:

Rising Damp: Caused by water soaking up through floors and walls, normally only to a height of 1 metre. This problem usually occurs in houses in which the damp proof course has failed or not installed. If walls feel damp and cold to the touch, or have loose or bubbling plaster, then rising damp is probably the cause.  This problem is also very common in homes that do not have a concrete apron around the perimeter of the structure, or where water collects close to walls.

Solution: The easiest way to check the cause is to start by lowering the level of soil or grass around the perimeter of the structure to see if it makes a difference. If not, you may need to look at having a chemically injected damp proof course applied to the walls Here Aqua-Mite works well.

Penetrating Damp: Caused by issues with the plumbing, where a problem has allowed water to enter the property. It can affect roofs and ceilings and along walls where a watermark might appear and grow if the water continues to enter. If not fixed, plaster may start to perish. Penetrating damp can sometimes be caused by gutter or roof problems, which have allowed rainwater to saturate areas of wall.

Solution: Penetrating damp forms when water gets in from the outside, so the first step is to check everything in and around the property. Examine gutters, down pipes, flashing, rendering and window frames in detail. Always make sure that down pipes are unobstructed, and if the guttering has seen better days, think about replacing it with new easy-to-fit plastic guttering. Aqua-Mite and our Waterproofing DIY kit are ideal.

Condensation: Caused by excessive moisture due to insufficient ventilation, condensation will arise and moisture will be in the air, even if you cannot see it. Mould has a strong musty smell and may appear on walls, ceilings, furniture and even curtains. Bathrooms, more than any other room in the home, are prone to excessive condensation.

Solution: Unlike other types of damp, installing extractor fans or increasing the amount of ventilation in a room, e.g. kitchen, bathroom or laundry, easily resolves problems with condensation.   Appliances that produce moisture, such as a tumble dryer, should be vented to the outside.

Mould: As a consequence of damp, mould is a fungus that requires moisture and warmth to proliferate and can often be found in bathrooms, under kitchen cabinets, inside built-in cupboards and other warm and moist areas in the home. Mould can be found in a variety of colours ranging from yellow, green and black, depending upon the type of fungus involved and all types can cause a serious health hazard, especially for those suffering from asthma and allergies.

Solution: The cause of the problem needs to be determined before attempting to remove mould, otherwise it will simply re-appear – see details above on types of damp. An easy way to kill mould is to use Mildew-Go. Use this as directed. Mildew-Go has a clinical odor.


Crime solutions
Recommendation for life in South African Prisons


These are some of the reasons why:

Sheriff Joe Arpaio created the “tent city jail” to save Arizona from spending tens of million of dollars on another expensive prison complex.

He has jail meals down to 40 cents a serving and charges the inmates for them.

He banned smoking and porno magazines in the jails, and took away theirweightlifting equipment and cut off all but “G” movies. He says: “they’re injail to pay a debt to society not to build muscles so they can assault innocent people when they leave.”

He started chain gangs to use the inmates to do free work on county and cityprojects and save taxpayer’s money.

Then he started chain gangs for women so he wouldn’t get sued for discrimination.

He took away cable TV until he found out there was a federal court order that required cable TV for jails. So he hooked up the cable TV again but only allows the Disney channel and the weather channel.

When asked why the weather channel he replied: “so these morons will know how hot it’s gonna be while they are working on my chain gangs.”

He cut off coffee because it has zero nutritional value and is therefore a waste of taxpayer money. When the inmates complained, he told them, “This isn’t the Ritz/Carlton. If you don’t like it, don’t come back.”

He also bought the Newt Gingrich lecture series on US history that he pipes into the jails. When asked by a reporter if he had any lecture series by a Democrat, he replied that a democratic lecture series that actually tells the truth for a change would be welcome and that it might even explain why 95% of the inmates were in his jails in the first place.

With temperatures being even hotter than usual in Phoenix (116 degrees just set a new record for June 2nd), the Associated Press reports: About 2,000 inmates living in a barbed- wire-surrounded tent encampment at the Maricopa County Jail have been given permission to strip down to their government-issued pink boxer shorts.

On Wednesday, hundreds of men wearing pink boxer shorts were chatting in the  tents, where temperatures reached 128 degrees. “This is hell. It feels like we live in a furnace,” said Ernesto Gonzales, an inmate for 2 years with 10 more to go. “It’s inhumane.”

Joe Arpaio, who makes his prisoners wear pink, and eat bologna sandwiches, is not one bit sympathetic. “Criminals should be punished for their crimes – not live in luxury until it’s time for parole, only to go out and commit more crimes so they can come back in to live on taxpayers money and enjoy things many taxpayers can’t afford to have for themselves.”

Wednesday he told all the inmates who were complaining of the heat in the tents: “It’s between 120 to 130 degrees in Iraq and our soldiers are living in tents too, and they have to walk all day in the sun, wearing full battle gear and get shot at, and they have not committed any crimes, so shut your damned mouths!”

Way to go, Sheriff! If all prisons were like yours there would be a lot less crime and we would not be in the current position of running out of prison spaces.

If you agree, pass this on.

Sheriff Joe was just re-elected
Sheriff in Maricopa County , Arizona

Ever wonder about people who say they are giving more than 100% ? at work…….


Ever wonder about people who say they are giving more than 100% ? at work…….
We have all been to those meetings where someone wants over 100%. How about achieving 103 %? Here is a little maths sum  that might prove helpful.

 What makes life 100%?


A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z

Is represented as

1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26


H  A  R  D  W  O  R  K
8   1  18  4   23  15  18 11 = 98%.


K  N  O  W  L  E  D  G  E
11 14 15 23 12  5  4   7  5 = 96%


A  T  T  I  T  U  D  E
1  20 20 9 20 21  4  5 = 100%


B  U  L  L  S  H  I  T
2  21 12 12 19 8 9 20 = 103%

So it stands to reason that hard work and knowledge will get you close, Attitude will get you there, and Bullshit will take you over the top.
But look how far ass kissing will take you.

A  S  S  K  I  S  S  I  N  G
1 19 19 11 9 19 19 9 14 7 = 118%.

So the next time someone ask you to give more than 100%, you know what is required of you.

Painting tips for your outside walls

Painting exterior walls is basically the same as painting any other surface; the major differences are in the scale. As with all painting, the quality and integrity of the finish depends to a large extent on the preparation of the surface before you even open a tin of paint. Also, the preparation differs slightly according to the finish over which you will be painting.

New brick

Concrete and cement rendering should be treated in the same way as new brick. To start with, remove any dust or loose material using a stiff brush, and scrape off any splashes of cement or concrete. Look out for any patches of white fluffy crystals; these are a result of efflorescence, and indicate that moisture is coming to the surface of the wall. If you paint over the patches, the moisture will tend to lift the paint off.

Clean the efflorescent debris off the walls with a stiff brush and wait about two weeks to make sure that no more patches emerge. Wash any mould growth or lichens with a proprietary mould inhibitor or bleach. Then scrape off these growths, and apply a further coat of inhibitor or bleach to the bare surface. Finally, make good deep cracks or holes in the surface using appropriate filler.

Where new, shuttered concrete is to be painted, it is important to degrease the surface because it may still have traces of the release oil used on the inside faces of the shuttering.

Previously painted surfaces

It is always advisable to prepare painted surfaces before repainting, and in the case of exterior work, it is essential if the new coatings are to protect the building in the way they are designed to.

Oil painted surfaces: Wash with a strong cleaning agent, and then rinse with clean water. Scrape off any loose or flaking paint, make good any deep cracks and holes, and fill shallow cracks with suitable exterior filler.

Emulsion painted surfaces: Wash with a detergent, and then rinse with clean water – anything stronger will damage the emulsioned surface. Where water penetrates the surface, allow it to dry completely before you start painting. Again, scrape off loose flaking paint and then repair cracks.

Damp surfaces

Walls that display signs of either damp or mould growth must be treated before you can paint them. Where surfaces are prone to damp, such as basement walls or garden walls, you must apply a coat of bituminous emulsion sealer and allow it to dry thoroughly.

Mould-infected surfaces

Mould growths are common on exterior surfaces where moisture is present as a result of the atmosphere, structural faults or defective plumbing. To remove them, first brush a coat of proprietary mould inhibitor on to the infected areas, and then strip all the mould back with a stiff brush and scraper. Do not use a wire brush, however, as any material particles left behind can cause rust stains. Then apply a second coat of mould inhibitor to the surface and allow it to dry. These solutions contain strong fungicides and you must wear rubber gloves and goggles when dealing with them to guard against splashes. This process must be carried out before any sealer is applied to the surface of the wall.

Access for application

In most cases, exterior surfaces are larger and higher than interior surfaces. Consequently, some form of scaffolding may be required, as well as a particular method of working that will result in even coverage after a number of sessions. Do make sure that when erecting scaffolding, that there is adequate space between the tower and the wall to enable you to prepare the surface and apply the paint.

However, unless you have to contend with very large walls, a ladder will usually suffice. When using a ladder, be sure to use a ladder stay – it will make the ladder more stable and make it easier to hang a bucket or roller on the underside with easy access for the brush or roller. Extend the ladder so that you can reach the top of the wall, but remember that it is unsafe to leave less than four rungs above your feet. Position the ladder so that you can reach the extreme right hand side – or left hand side if you are left handed – of the wall.

Assuming you are right-handed, complete the panel to the right of the ladder, then move the ladder to the left and work on the adjacent panel. Continue horizontally across the wall until you reach the left hand side of the wall, and then adjust the ladder to allow access to the area below, and so on. If the light or weather forces you to abandon work before the project is complete, you must try and break off at a point where the joining of the dry and wet film will show least, such as at a pipe running down the wall, a window, moulding or something similar.


Try to plan exterior painting for warm, dry days. Extreme cold or frost can affect the water content of the paint, causing a complete breakdown in the film. Rain on the surface before the paint is dry can thin it disastrously. The first coat on porous surfaces can be thinned according to the manufacturers instructions. But, be sure not to over-thin; the result will be poor opacity and the need for extra coats.

Charge the brush or roller with plenty of paint, and lay it or roll it in all directions. Do not apply the material too far, however, because correct covering and protection requires that it be twice as thick as ordinary liquid paints. Any spots and splashes must be washed off immediately with water because exterior grade paint sets rapidly. During short breaks, wrap the brush or roller tightly in a plastic bag to prevent the air curing the material. Do not be tempted to leave it in water because the initial application will be patchy. When you have completed a session of work, immediately clean all the equipment. – Antonella Dési

The pros and cons of a thatch roof

The kind of grass

Generally, finer grasses are the best for thatching, as long as the stem is less than four millimetres in diameter, as the thicker stemmed grasses are not suitable for thatching. The finer grass from KwaZulu-Natal is preferred over the slightly thicker stemmed grasses from the Highveld. The grass has to be dry and must have lost all its seed when it is harvested for thatching. The best time for collecting thatching grass is in winter when it is bone dry.

If you have opted for a thatch roof, it is important to ensure that you are not building near to or under any trees. If the thatch gets wet, it needs to dry out as soon as possible to prevent rot or fungal growth. If surrounding trees keep the roof in the shade for most of the day, the grass will have a much shorter lifespan than those in the full sun. The leaves from the surrounding trees will also drop onto the roof and keep it damp for even longer, which will also lead to rotting. Thatch that is well laid and found in very cold winter climates can last very much longer, because during the winter months the thatch actually freezes and all insect and fungal life found therein consequently dies. Believe it or not, thatch is also protected by sea spray as the salt sterilises the grass and its contents.

If the roof is properly laid and the right grass is used the average thatch roof can last for approximately 25 years, however, in the right climatic conditions, it would be able to last for up to 30 years.

Pros and cons

Thatch is the best insulated roofing available to man. Most other roofs need to be insulated after they have been installed, while thatch roofs automatically offer excellent insulating properties, making it ideal for our hot local climate to keep the interiors of our homes cool in summer and warm in winter.

If thatch is well laid, it will be virtually maintenance free. Thatch is very vulnerable to being stripped by birds, especially weavers that can really destroy a roof within a year. If you need to protect your thatch, it is wise to cover it with a plastic mesh that will keep the birds away. Wire mesh can also be used, however, in time it will rust.

The weakest point of any thatch roof is the ridge. One can get it covered with a fibreglass hood or the old method of mortar will also do the trick. Ensure that the apex is always kept in good condition and that it remains completely watertight at all times. This is the most vulnerable part of a thatch roof and needs to be constantly maintained. If any work needs to be done on the thatch, always use an experienced thatcher, and do not allow any workmen to move around on the thatch, unless completely necessary.

Protecting your thatch

All houses with thatch roofs need to have lightning conductors installed to protect them from being struck by lightning and consequently burning down. These conductors need to be in accordance with the SABS Code of practice. If the house is very high or large, the mast would have to be very high to cover the whole area. This can be solved by putting in two masts or even a spike can be installed on the chimney to cover the area not covered by the spike.

If you have a chimney serving a fireplace in your home, ensure that the walls of the chimney are at least 220mm thick so that when the fire is burning, the outer skin of the chimney remains cool. Also make sure that all the joints between the bricks are well sealed so no smoke or flame can escape and cause problems. The chimney must be at least one meter higher than the roof and have a spark arrestor, made from stainless steel wire mesh, installed 700mm from the top of the chimney. Any sparks that fly out of the chimney should get caught in the mesh rather than land on the roof possibly causing a fire.

Not only is thatch beautiful to look at, but also very practical and if well installed and maintained, it can be one of the most durable and attractive roofs on the market. – Antonella Desi

Call Cosmo-Dec (012 669 9919) to enquire about Fire-Guard a marvelous thatch fire retardant

Fix a leaking roof fast

It is not always be on your agenda in the dry months to give your roof a good inspection, but it is a must-do and should become an annual habit. Once the rain starts and your home is leaking, it is usually not possible to fix the leak until the rain has stopped, and by then the water damage could be quite considerable. So it is wise to give your roof a thorough inspection before the rainy season begins.

Different roofs – different problems

No matter what type of roof you have protecting your home, they all need to be checked and regularly maintained because normal wear and exposure to the elements dictates so.

Flat roofs:Most flat roofs are made from concrete or corrugated iron. If the roofs are built inside parapet walls, the gutters need to be checked often before and during the rainy season for leaves and any other debris that could cause them to block and overflow. If the down pipes get full of leaves, the gutters will fill up and the water will spill over and run into the house down the interior wall located under the gutter. This kind of water leak can cause maximum damage and it is the easiest to prevent. If your flat roof is made of concrete, make sure the sealer used is not pealing or cracking as this too can lead to water leakage and damage. Ensure all drains are free of debris that could cause any blockages.

Pitched roofs:Your pitched roofs can be covered in all sorts of materials, including thatch, corrugated iron, and a wide variety of different tiles. Ridge tiles, roof valleys and flashings are all prime leak weak spots. Go around the roof and check that all the flashing is still in place and well sealed with waterproofing membrane. Sometimes extreme hot or cold conditions can cause the membrane to pull away from the flashing and if left untreated, this will lead to leaking. Thatch roofs need to have regular inspections by a professional, as they can be dangerous to climb onto.

Check the roof for broken tiles and replace them. Make sure all the ridge tiles are secure and held together by cement and sealer. It is better to be over cautious, than pay the high price of fixing water damage. If nails are used to secure your roof covering ensure that the holes left behind from missing nails are sealed up. In a big storm, a small nail hole could lead to serious water damage on your ceilings.

If you live in an area that gets hail storms, take special care with your gutters. After a particularly severe hailstorm, homeowners should get up onto the roof and clear them out, as hail can causes the down pipes to block. Most builders would have installed larger than normal gutters and down pipes to handle this problem, but if you get a leak every time you have a hailstorm, it would be prudent to increase the size of both your box gutter and down pipe.


Your chimney is very often a major culprit of leaks – very often the structure is solid, but the cowling at the top of the chimney is not sufficient to stop the rain from getting in during a windy storm. If this is not sorted out, the entire metal casing of your fireplace will eventually rust away. Also check the seals between the roof and the actual chimney as the heat generated by the fire can very often cause the seal to peel away or crack.

If you just do these few simple checks before the rainy season, you should be able to prevent any leaks and have a dry and undamaged home. Most leaks can be sorted out by you before they get too serious and end up causing a lot of damage. – Antonella Desi            Call CosmoDec for advice on choice of products for all types of roofs 012 669 9919