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A HELPING HAND

When Mouse Ears Are a Bad Thing

June 01, 1996|JOHN MORELL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Q I'm trying to rodent-proof my garage, and I want to seal up the holes in the wall where water and electrical lines get through. Is there some kind of patching material I can use to fill the area around the pipes and conduits, or should I just put metal plate around them?

K.L.

Anaheim

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A An insulating foam that comes in a spray, available at most hardware stores, can fill gaps, says Frank Eckert of Arrow True Value Hardware in Orange.

It's used for spaces around window casements and other areas too big to use caulking. It expands as it's released and hardens into a tough surface. Rodents such as rats and mice gnaw constantly, which is why a very strong substance is needed to seal a conduit hole.

Some people have used coarse steel wool around pipes because the animals don't like to gnaw on it. Installing metal plating around the holes, though it involves more work, probably provides the most effective containment.

Drill a hole slightly larger than the diameter of the pipe, cut the plate in half, then screw it into place on the wall. Make sure the clearance between the plate and pipe is very slight, because rodents can squeeze through tight spaces.

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Q We've got a persistent water hammer problem in our two-story house. Whenever a faucet is turned on or a toilet flushed, there's a knocking sound that reverberates through the home. Any ideas on how to track this down?

M.S.

Anaheim

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A One of the most common causes of water hammer is a loose washer seat in a faucet, says Scott Blanke of Central Plumbing & Heating Supply in La Habra.

Look for older fixtures that may have washers old enough to replace. It's also common to see this problem when your system is connected to a water softener, in which case connections in and out of the unit will have to be checked. Finally, it could a loose pipe.

Usually, hammering is found at the end of each line. Water-hammer arresters work in many instances and are easy to install on a water line. However, if the hammering is caused by a loose seat or pipe, the arrester isn't going to help, which is why it's best to search for the cause first.

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Q One of our bathrooms has just a tiled shower stall, and the enclosure is made of a glass door with two glass panels at an angle on each side. The door has become scaly over the years, and it doesn't close right, but the panels are in good shape. Is it possible to just get a new door to fit the space rather than an entire enclosure?

S.E.

Garden Grove

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A It's always best to replace the entire enclosure rather than just a part of it, says Katy Jackson of Maley's Glass & Mirror in Anaheim. The problem is that it's not likely you'll find a door and frame to match your enclosure, especially if it's old.

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