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Super Handyman: For water leaks, be proactive

Ever come home to a water leak or found one in a closet or somewhere you don’t check regularly? Fun, isn’t it? Well, it might be impossible to prevent all leaks, but you can have some specific items on hand to at least plug and clean up the mess quickly.

If the leak is in a supply line, shut off the water off, either at the appliance or at the main shut-off valve. By the way, if you don’t have a “key” to access your main cutoff and shut it off, buy one. You also can usually find them at a local hardware store, or ask your water utility where you can get one.

A wet/dry shop vacuum cleaner set to “wet” is a quick way to get the mess up. You can also place newspapers or diapers on the water to soak it up.

It’s a good idea to have a few supplies on hand to plug leaks temporarily, until a plumber can get there to make repairs.

There are a lot of good tapes you can use, including a new silicone tape that sticks to itself and is very flexible to fit around joints and other odd-shaped areas to seal up leaks quickly.

Clamps also come in handy. A worm gear clamp, placed over a rubber patch, can seal up a leaky pipe for a while.

Plumber’s epoxy putty is easy to work with and will easily mold around pipes and even joints to seal up a leak until the plumber can get there.

Depending on what type of pipe you have in your home, keep extra pieces on hand for repairs.

There are some small, battery-operated alarms that can be placed in vulnerable areas, such as near a water heater, washing machine or basement, to alert you to water leaks, and this might be something you want to start using. Check your home center for these devices, or search online.

Keep in mind that most of these tips are just temporary repairs, so give your plumber a call to make permanent repairs as soon as possible.


Q: My bathroom faucets aren’t new, but I’m not much of a handyman. The problem is that when you turn off the hot water faucet handle, it will come back on again, by itself. It seems to be getting worse all the time, and I feel like I’m wasting a lot of water. How can I fix this? – H.J.

A: I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but it sounds as if you probably will need a new faucet set. If you are inexperienced, then you probably will need to hire a plumber to do the replacement. You might be able to have him or her replace the faucet stem, but it’s just a matter of time before the other handle starts to do the same thing.

A super hint

Getting rust off of metal surfaces doesn’t have to entail using a lot of caustic chemicals. Try hydrogen peroxide. You probably have some in your bathroom cabinet right now. It’s safer, and it works pretty well on rust.


You can control a lot of things with a smartphone, and Kwikset has a neat new smart lock called the Kevo. The lock is controlled with a phone app and/or the fob that comes with it. It installs much like a standard lock with just a few distinctions, including a battery pack.

Once programmed, it can be as easy to unlock the door as just the touch of a finger. This is a fantastic solution for active families or homes with heavy traffic where the keys might need to be reassigned or the access tracked. It’s the wave of the future, and you can have it today.

To find out more and see a video, go to

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