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    Handyman on Call

    Does she need a sump pump in her basement?

    Q. My duplex has a common basement divided by a wall. My neighbor has installed a sump and a pump, but some water finds its way across his floor and under the wall into my space. I don’t mind that, but he does, and wants me to install a sump and pump on my side to stop that overflow. Would that work?

    JOAN, from Burlington

    A. I think it might, because sumps are designed to fill with water before it runs along the floor. Your neighbor’s sump and pump are not quite doing it, but another one in your space could. If he wants you to put one in, you might reach a compromise and share the cost.


    Q. My son-in-law is trying to remove black water stains from two pieces of light hardwood furniture. The stains were made by plastic water saucers under plants. He has tried bleach and sanding but cannot seem to remove the stains. Any other options?LINDA Richardson, by e-mail

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    A. Your son-in-law is doing the right thing, but not intensely enough. He has to sand down to the bare wood, then bleach, probably twice, until the black is gone. Then he will have to refinish whatever surface the black stains are on. If the black stains remain, he could stain the surface darker to try to disguise them.

    Q. My asphalt driveway is in good shape, but has developed a small crack 16 to 18 inches long and -inch wide. Should I leave it alone or try to fill it?


    A. It certainly is minor, but should be looked after, because water can get into the crack, opening it further each time it freezes. You can try using asphalt crack filler, but getting it in that narrow slit will be difficult. So instead, buy a crack filler in a caulking cartridge, and lay a big bead on the crack, then press it in deeply, and smooth it off. Sprinkle sand on it to prevent tires from tracking the filler further on the pavement.

    Sagging fan blades

    When “Desperate” asked how she could fix her sagging ceiling fan blades, the Handyman admitted not even knowing about sagging blades and how to fix them. But Roy Minnehan of Hanover knew how to get the blades back into position. Here is his response:


    “Regarding sagging ceiling fan blades, I have had them and each time it was due to hardware that had loosened, probably due to the vibration caused by the fan. On my fans there are three screws that attach the blade to a metal piece and two Allen bolts that attach that metal piece to the fan housing. I have found over time that the Allen bolts especially have loosened substantially to the point of almost coming out. Whenever a fan starts to shake or vibrate I always check the hardware first. Other than that, over dozens of years of using ceiling fans I have never had an actual blade that sagged or became misshapen.”

    Thanks, Roy, for your insight.

    Q. There is a small drip — maybe once every 20 seconds — coming from the coupling where the water line enters my house before the first shut-off valve, so in order to fix it (probably needs a new gasket) it would have to be shut off from the street. Is it in danger of blowing, or can I let it drip for years and just keep a cup under the drip?JIM-BOB-MARY, in Hotton’s chat room

    A. Small leaks have a peculiar habit of getting bigger, and over the years you are going to find a huge water bill. So have it fixed soonest.

    Globe Handyman on Call Peter Hotton also appears in the Sunday Real Estate section. He is available 1-6 p.m. Tuesdays to answer questions on house repair. Call 617-929-2930. Hotton ( also chats online about house matters 2-3 p.m. Thursdays. Go to