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How to repair a crystal vase

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Q: I have a cut-crystal vase that broke. It is of significant sentimental value, so I would like to get it repaired. I believe I have all of the shards. I am not looking for a watertight repair, as I would simply display the vase, not put flowers in it. The vase’s design should hide a lot of the seams where shards are glued together. Is there someone in this area who can do this repair?

If it makes more sense to do it myself, what kind of glue should I use, and is there any other advice you can give me?

Potomac

A: For professional repairs, two possibilities are Giovanni Nason, owner of Giovanni Nason Glass and Crystal Restoration Center in Potomac (301-340-2624, gnason@comcast.net), and Chatree’s Restoration in Alexandria (703-548-0168).

If you decide to attempt the repair yourself, use an adhesive specifically made for bonding glass. Epoxies sold at hardware stores cure quickly but tend to yellow over time, especially if the glass is exposed to direct sunlight. Many conservators use Araldite 2020 or Hxtal NYL-1 Epoxy Adhesive, available from Conservation Resources International in Springfield. (800-634-6932). These products come as two-part kits and require careful mixing, application and clamping. Hxtal works best if the glass is gently warmed to about 120 degrees, perhaps with a hair dryer. The adhesives cure slowly, so you will need something other than your hands to keep the pieces in place while this happens. For clamping ideas, type “repair glass and china” into the search box at www.howstuffworks.com.

The professional-caliber epoxy kits cost $65 to $85. That’s pricey but still a lot less expensive than a professional repair, which starts at $120 for a simple job and escalates if multiple parts need to be pieced together.

In the Jan. 31 edition of Local Living, you answered a question concerning hard-wired smoke detectors. You noted a detector could be “chirping” because a battery needed replacement or the detector was old. We have detectors made by Firex that are more than 10 years old in our home. What is the normal life expectancy of one?

Bethesda

Kidde purchased Firex in 2007 and maintains a Web site with consumer information about Firex products. It cites the National Fire Protection Association’s advice that all smoke detectors be replaced after 10 years because aged ones don’t operate reliably and are likely to sound false alarms.

In Montgomery County, homeowners are allowed to dispose of household detectors in household trash, even though ionization models (not photoelectric ones) contain a very small amount of a weak radioactive material. Smoke detectors are not accepted at electronic waste recycling events held by the Montgomery County Department of Solid Waste because the company that runs these events doesn’t handle radioactive waste.

Some manufacturers used to take back old detectors, presumably to recycle the radioactive material and keep it out of landfills. But Kidde has not done that for years, and a company spokeswoman , Heather Caldwell, said that she knows of no manufacturer that still does. If you’re curious what type of detectors you have, check by model number through the “products” section of the Firex Web site.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com. Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

The Checklist Read Jeanne Huber’s roundup of home-improvement tasks you should tackle in January, such as taking a home inventory.

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