Design & DIY

Store of advice


Rob Clark, owner of cottage-country hardware stores in Bracebridge and Huntsville: “Cottage owners are mostly do-it-yourself people, so we’re often asked for technical advice on all kinds of subjects here at the stores.” Clark has field-proven solutions for five issues that cottage owners often face.

Pump smarts
Water pumps can push water better than they pull it. That’s why submersible pumps are tops for new water systems. For many cottagers, a !/2-hp, 115-volt model is ideal for drawing water from the lake. Watch out, though: Most submersibles use 240 volts, and that voltage requires a $300 GFCI breaker to meet Code. Look for 120-volt pumps that connect into a regular $15 GFCI.

Ice-free docks
An agitator can keep docks and boathouse foundations ice-free, especially important with modern boathouses built on steel pilings. Ice movement can bend the steel and permanently weaken it. But you don’t need to leave the agitator on 24/7. I’d set a timer for a six-hour on-off cycle; in this area, that works just as well, and it saves electricity.

Safe water
Never install a UV water purifier without adequate filters in place—suspended sediment shades microbes from the disinfecting UV rays. Coarse and fine filters remove sediment, and then a charcoal filter clears unwanted odours and improves the taste.

Better paint
There’s no shortcut to paint prep. You have to scrape and sand and get tired. Before you do, test old paint for lead. If you’ve got it, don’t sand; use paint stripper to avoid creating dust, then bring the goo to a toxic waste disposal facility.

Barbecue basics
I could make more money selling cheap barbecues, because they need to be replaced every few years. The acidic environment around the burners rots cheap stainless steel, and it’s hard to get good spare parts for those foreign-made barbecues too. Trust me, paying more up front lowers your annual costs. And your burgers taste better to boot.