FAQs on Glass Aquarium Repair,
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Aquariums, Marine Tanks,
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Related FAQs: Chips/Cracks 1, Chips/Cracks 2, Chips/Cracks
4, Chips/Cracks 5,
Chips/Cracks 6, Chips/Cracks 7,
& Glass Aquarium Repair 1, Glass Aquarium Repair 2, G lass
Aquarium Repair 3, Glass
Aquarium Repair 4,
Repair 5, & FAQs on Repairing Glass Tank: Scratches/Blemishes, Cross-Braces, Leaks, Whole Panes, Tools: Cutting Glass, Silicone, Moulding/Frames; Techniques; Olde Tank (Slate Bottom, Metal
Frame, Pecora...) Repairs, Troubleshooting/Repairs, &
Aquarium Repair, Used
Chipped aquarium, reading
I have a 29g aquarium with a chip (or flake, or shard, whatever). The
chip is about 1.5in x 1in, and is located at the edge of one of the
long panes of glass, where two panes meet. It is very close to the
bottom of the tank, about an inch from the bottom trim (is that better
or worse than it being higher?).
<Worse by and large>
It does NOT go all the way through the glass to the
"silicon" seal (the sealant is black, is it still
At its deepest point (which is the closest point to the end of the
it goes maybe halfway through the 1/4inch glass, but most of the chip
is a good deal more superficial. What are my options?
<Mmm, posted. Read here:
the seventh tray down: Aquarium Repairs... Chips/Cracks...>
Can I do some kind of repair without replacing the pane?
<Mmm, not really likely to help structurally, but might be a good
idea to reduce the likelihood of folks cutting themselves... Squaring
off the area with a bit of new Silicone. IF there is a beginning
scoring/fracture, the tank could fail catastrophically. It must need be
If I do a repair, can I reasonably trust it or is there a good chance
this tank is going to blow up some day?
<Mmm... this degree of trust depends on a few factors that I
can't assess w/o at least seeing some good pix... and your setting
this tank on a "good" support (flat/planar, level,
Another possibility: If this chip is always going to be a major weak
point can I just get an inch cut off the front, back, and bottom panes
and have a slightly less long tank?
<Interesting possibility... This proposal, task is very hard to
accomplish... would require dismantling the tank (cutting out all
extant seals) and cutting the glass, re-Siliconing... Much cheaper,
faster to just buy a new tank>
If I do that, what do I do about the trim?
<... would have to be cut away... might be able to be
recycled/re-used, but if it were me (I'd read where you were
referred above), I'd contact the manufacturer re... They'll
sell you new>
I know the lid will still fit. I don't mind the hard work if it
saves me a worthwhile amount of money.
<Mmm... it would not me>
If I have to replace the pane I'll probably just get a new tank
and save the good glass from this tank for a DIY project some day.
<Ah, good... now we're getting to the "bottom line" as
the saying goes...
the bad pane/s can be made much more strong with new ones Siliconed
over them, this tank used as a sump, or turned around with the more
opaque, bad side to the back>
Also, I don't know if this tank is plate or tempered.
<It is plate/float glass... some bottoms are tempered...>
Thank you for any advice you can give me.
<Read on. Bob Fenner>
Good day Bob and crew!
Well the time has come to move on upgrading to a larger tank. I
bought a 150 gallon oceanic reef ready tank from craigslist after
having my apartment inspected for load bearing capacity. The
engineer found a load bearing wall that is directly underneath
where this beast will go, which was my first concern, but no
more. Then, while carrying this tank into my apartment, we
whacked the corner on a doorframe and broke off some of the trim,
and chipped the corner.
I've attached several photos of the tank and chipped area
from several angles.
It's still kind of hard to see the actual damage without
seeing it in person, and some of the pictures make it look a lot
worse than it does in person. I will try to describe the damage.
The bottom piece of glass has the side pieces attached so as to
sit on top of the bottom piece. The damage is more like a shard
missing from the back edge of the bottom piece. The shard that
came off is missing, but appears to be less than 1/16"
thick, and about an inch long.
<This part of the break/damage is of little concern>
No part of the seal appears to have been damaged, and the shard
is completely below the seal. The silicone that was holding the
trim in place makes it look dirty along the top edge of the seal,
that is not the binding silicone but rather the glue for the
<Yes... a good job>
There are still small shard like pieces in there as well.
<These are worrisome... as glass is a super-cooled liquid...
not a solid... behaves "oddly" in a few ways (relative
to most "common" experience)... My concern is that a
small crack here might lead to a split along a long axis on the
Will this chip affect the structural integrity of the tank?
<It might, but...>
It doesn't appear to have caused any structural damage, but I
wanted another opinion before I moved forward. I've shown
lights through the glass along the direction of the shard and
can't see any cracks or running lines inside the glass. It is
difficult to more thoroughly inspect this length of glass because
the trim is still in place.
<I would leave it as such, and apply an equally thick piece of
material along the bottom corner for support here>
All the inside seals still appear perfect, and there are no
bubbles in any of the silicone anywhere on the tank. All the
seals are original and the tank never leaked before. I also
noticed this tank had a slightly thicker glass than an AGA 125
which is the same length.
If I were to set this tank up, should I replace the corner of
trim with something so that the corner is sitting on top of
something of equal height to the rest of the tank?
<Yes. For sure>
I would fear that having that bit of corner not resting at the
same level could potentially increase stress on that area of the
tank. The corner that is chipped is the rear left, the same
corner as one of the overflows.
<Yes, and this is the principal reason I have for being more
upbeat re the tanks continued use>
If I were to set it up, and say it did leak or something down the
road, I think I would at least be able to shutoff the pump, and
the only water that would continue to leak would be the water
which was already in the corner overflow area, and not the whole
<Mmm, again... the worst that could happen would be a large
split along the bottom pane... including the area outside the
I guess I am looking for some guidance. This tank was a steal,
and I'd hate to have to buy a replacement. Am I able to just
silicone this glass in place
to avoid the sharp edges, and move on with setting it up?
<If it were me, mine...>
I know the silicone won't add any structural strength. Of
course I fear the worst, but all my visible inspections are
telling me its okay.
I have much higher resolution versions of the pictures attached
as well if you should need them.
<These images are sufficient. I give you good odds here that
this tank (given the frame support repair mentioned, and set upon
a planer, level stand/support) will not fail... due to less
stress in this corner, which in turn will be due to lower water
depth, the tower walls and drilled hole supports. I would test
this tank "outdoors", empty first... to assure it
won't immediately catastrophically fail... but otherwise
likely use it. Bob Fenner>
Re: Chipped Corner 12/3/08
Thank you so much for your response! I had held back on buying a
stand and all the rest until I had a little feedback from
somebody who has had a little more experience with these things.
I had a few quick follow-up questions. What should I use to patch
up the corner of the trim? Something that is as hard and sturdy
as the trim I assume, but can't think of what would do the
<Mmm, more plastic... or something else that is chemically
inert... affixed with Silastic>
I've attached another picture in case you don't still
have the pics attached from the previous email. The first thing
that came to mind is that magic putty (that looks very similar to
epoxy I've used to mount rocks together) that Billy Mayes
sells on TV...? Maybe even some kind of concrete? Or another
<Mmm, better to have a softer plastic... much the same
density/hardness as the existing frame... Needs to give a bit.
The ideal would be sections of frame... I'd contact Oceanic
re... they've sold this to "end users"/consumers in
I have a running shopping list right now for what I plan on
buying as well, and wanted to run it by you guys for input. This
will be an sps and clam tank, with limited LPSs. It is a 150
gallon oceanic reef ready, as described below. I have been
keeping reef tanks for about 4 years, so I've learned to buy
quality the first time around.
1) Neptune AquaController Jr
2) EV-240 protein skimmer with a Mag 18 pump
3) Building a sump/refugium out of an old 55 AGA gallon tank -
are these safe to drill on the ends?
<Yes... take your time... See ScottV and friends excellent
site, business: Glass-holes.com for great input, tools
4) 2x Iwaki WMD30RLT pumps -- still trying to figure out how best
to do the return. I have an extra SCWD and was contemplating
using a single larger pump running through the SCWD or two lesser
pumps running alone. I'm a big fan of wave movement, and if I
used two lesser pumps I would use the Hydor rotating deflector on
<Mmm... as much as I like redundancy re important aspects...
I'd go with one good pump here... for this size/type
system... Do read through the many FAQs files on Marine Plumbing
on WWM... feel free to send in a drawing/schematic of your plans
5) Lights: 4x 250w 15k metal halides supplemented with 4x T5 HO
actinic 6) Dual heaters - haven't decided on brand yet.
7) 2x two little fishies Phosban reactor 150 - 1 for carbon, and
1 for Phosban powered by aquavia pumps. Would it be better to run
these in line from each other, or parallel?
<I'd skip them period>
8) Calcium reactor is down the line - will likely start the tank
up without one.
<I wouldn't skip this... put the funds, time for #7 into
this from the get-go>
9) JBJ ATO connected to a 20 gallon reservoir Thanks as always
for being there as a fantastic resource for all the reef heads
out there! Invaluable!
<Glad to share! BobF>
Re: Chipped Corner, Oceanic 12/15/08
Just wanted to follow up about this chipped corner, and the
repair on the trim of my Oceanic 150. I contacted the people at
Oceanic (Central Aquatics) and explained my situation and that I
needed some trim pieces to replace what was broken on this
corner. After being passed around the room a few times, I was
finally called back by "their boss". He told me that
the color trim I had hadn't been made in many years, but that
he could replace it with some black trim instead. I said that was
no problem, as it would be hidden by the stand anyway. He
proceeded to cut two different styles of trim into 90 degree
corners and shipped them to me, everything free of charge.
Fantastic customer service! These guys stood by their product
even though it was used, they don't make that style anymore,
and I have no warranty. I will be gluing the pieces on tonight.
Thanks, Josh <Thank you for this update Josh. Will post/share.
Please do take a few pix, make it known how your repair went. Bob
Re: Chipped Corner 01/13/09
Well I am not so sure about moving forward with this tank
anymore. I filled it to about 6" shy of the top and let it
sit that way for a week before draining it. A close inspection of
the damaged area revealed some potentially bad news. A new chip
inside the bottom glass has started to grow right along the
silicone seal between the bottom pane and the side pane.
It's far enough from the edge that I couldn't get a
decent picture, but a flashlight reveals it to the naked eye at
the right angle.
It looks like a dent in the bottom pane about 1.5" x
.5" long and .3" deep. It wasn't there before
filling, and is right where the seal is.
<This is not so problematical... it moving... all at once
outside the seal area is>
I fear this tank may be trashed. I am very bummed about this
because I got the tank for next to nothing. Now I have everything
I need to get started on the build except the lights - and now no
tank either. I guess I am going to redirect my savings for the
lights towards a new tank and start over saving for the
<Is a good plan>
Would it be worth my time to get a new bottom pane that is
drilled and attempt to fix it? Or should I just consider getting
a new tank altogether?
<Is worth the adventure IMO... Not easy to do... to cut away
the existing Silastic... and really... all panels need to be
disassembled, completely cleaned... all re-sealed... You can read
re this on WWM, elsewhere... a few dozen hours of labor
Thanks as always,
<Perhaps the existing tank can be sold to someone as a
paludarium... snake cage or such... to help defer the cost of the
new tank. Bob Fenner>
All-Glass Tank repair question. . . chip on
outside corner of large tank 8/18/08 Hi gang, <Hey
Chuck.> I'm considering purchase of a large (180 gallon)
6'x24"x24" previously-owned-but-never-used All-Glass reef
ready tank. The glass is VERY thick, I think they may use the same
thickness as for the Oceanic tanks in this size, but there is a
pinky-fingernail sized chip on the exterior right front corner, down
pretty low on the tank. I plan to test the tank for watertight
integrity -- I'm fairly sure it will pass muster <I assume you
have read the FAQs regarding this.> -- but the chip itself is rather
sharp. Can you recommend any sort of epoxy or acrylic filler for this
sort of repair to make the edge safer and serve as a cosmetic fix as
well? <I would just use some silicone to take the edge off this.
Many glues can hurt the silicone already holding the tank together.>
Thanks in advance for any help on this. . . <Welcome, Scott
Another chipped aquarium question 9/25/08
Good day, ladies and gents. Thanks so much for answering my
Over the weekend, I bought a "used tank (tank only) and
stand" for $20. The tank was 20 gallons, with a wrought iron
stand. Unfortunately, communication between myself and the seller
left something to be desired. My rationale for closing the deal
anyhow was - even if this was a 10 gallon stand and the aquarium
was junk, that it would be worth the $20, because around here a
10 gallon wrought iron stand costs $50 brand new. Indeed, the
stand ended up actually being for a 10 gallon tank, with a wooden
board supporting the bottom *sigh* but that was fine...I
resurrected my 10 gallon tank and it's against the kitchen
wall, now that I have a lovely stand for it.
My problem is that upon closer inspection, I realize that the 20
gallon tank has sizable chips. A few little ones, and one BIG
one, and they are only on one side. I have a feeling the tank is
worthless, unless I fill it up to just underneath the chip, which
is almost exactly in the center.
Bob, or whomever may be so kind, could you please take a look at
my image and give me a diagnosis? I would appreciate it so
<I tend to agree with your suspicion. I would not use this
tank, the chip appears quite significant. You could silicone a
patch over it, strips three or so inches wide running from top to
bottom along both sides of this corner. But, by the time you do
all of this it will likely be easier and not cost much more to
just buy a new 20 gal.>
Re: Another chipped aquarium question
Hi Scott, Thank you so much for replying.
<My pleasure Nicole.>
I actually have a friend with lots of scrap Plexiglas and the
right tools, so I might give the patch a shot, if I can convince
him to make it for me.
<Plexi is not the right material, it just won't bond well
at all. You will need to use actual glass here.>
Just to be clear, do you mean that I would need two strips about
3" wide, running the span of the tank top to bottom...so
that if it is 15" top to bottom, that's how tall the
strip would have to be?
And would the two patches be touching each other at a vertex? (If
that is even the right word?) Sorry to be so dense, I just want
to be able to explain to him what is required!
<I get what you are saying and yes.>
I was at the LFS picking up some frozen food, and told them about
the chip. The guy said, "oh, just dab some silicone on it,
inside and out" but I knew better than to do that.
<This tank may very well work well for some time, but this is
a fairly large, significant chip. I just would not trust this
tank, it could be dangerous even though such a small
Thanks again, and have a wonderful weekend - since Friday is just
around the corner!
<Heee, I sure will, you do the same!>
<This fix is super conservative, but these things need to be.
It is not only the possibility of the tank leaking or breaking,
it is a matter of safety here. Scott V.>
Re: Another chipped aquarium question
Hey again Scott,
Thanks for your input.
<Welcome, happy to help.>
I believe I will give this tank to a thrift store, or advertise
it in our local classifieds as a free tank for maybe a reptile or
turtle. It sounds like the fix is more trouble than it's
worth, and not 100% safe.
<Tis a lot of trouble and mess to go through for the
At least I got a nice stand out of the
deal. We always hope we will get the most out of our money,
sometimes that just doesn't happen!
<It sounds like you did ok.>
Again, my deepest appreciation for all that you do - all of you,
<Thank you very much.>
<Talk soon, Scott V.>
Emergency! chipped corner 9/16/08 Help!
My husband was carrying a new toilet through the living room, and
he bashed it into the corner of the 130 gallon FOWLR aquarium.
<Yeeikes!> It's quite the big chip, but as you can see
in the attached pics, it doesn't go through to the seal.
<Mmmm> There's about an eighth of an inch of glass
around the seal at the deepest part of the chip. The chip is
about two inches long, but is pretty superficial at each end.
It's the middle (where it's an eighth of an inch away
from the seal) that I'm worried about. My husband thinks
it's fine, that if it was going to start leaking/gushing
water, it would be doing so now. It's not, yet! I'm
afraid I'm going to go downstairs tomorrow and find 130
gallons of water on the floor and a bunch of dead animals.
Thoughts??? Thanks! Elise <There are cases where the
overwhelming prudent thing to do is taking a system down, trying
to bolster the strength of a bad break... such is the case here.
I am VERY concerned as well... that this chip will lead to
catastrophic failure. I would drain the system down a bit for
now... and in a day or two, move the life elsewhere, effect a
patch on both faces (can be two-three inch wide pieces of glass,
but running the total height under/above the frame... Silicone
these tightly against the outside, over the break area, abutting
each other... turn the tank about (so the repair is toward the
back)... and re-fill in a day or two. Bob Fenner>
Re: Emergency! chipped corner
9/17/08 Why wait a day or two? <For curing... RMF>
Re: Emergency! chipped corner 9/17/08 I
must apologize, Mr. Fenner, in my frantic haste last night, I
wasn't very clear in my second question. You said I should
drain the system down a bit for now (alas, I can't, the water
wouldn't reach the little box that carries it down to the
sump/fuge) and then in a day or two, move the animals and begin
the repair. Why wait a day or two to begin the repair? Is
catastrophic failure not that imminent? <I am sorry for the
lack of clarity. The waiting is for the Silicone to cure once the
repair is effected, NOT to begin the draining, moving...> We
actually have decided we will replace the tank (just the tank,
not the whole system) as there are scratches on the glass,
particularly on the back. I was thinking I would move the LR,
maybe half the water, and livestock into several large Rubbermaid
bins with powerheads while switching out the tanks. We could do a
50% water change in the process. Sound like a plan? <Yes> I
thought that if the crack begins to leak before we can get a new
tank, we'd begin bucketing the water out into a bin, removing
the LR to the bin of extra saltwater we have in the garage, then
net the fish into the bin of their own water and put in a power
head. I was thinking I could put a couple of fish into the
refugium, which can run with the sump separately from the tank.
Then we could tend to draining the rest of the tank and procuring
a replacement. Sound good? <It does, but I caution you here...
this sort of crack can/does result not in "leaking" but
breaking entirely, dumping the water out en toto above the crack
(which could be entire here), and possible terrible wound to
someone if they're in front of the pane if/when it gives>
It's been about twelve (sleepless) hours and the damage looks
the same. Thanks again for your sage advice Elise <You're
welcome Elise. I have "just" seen too many such cracks
(with no apparent further cause) lead to sheer breaks of glass...
This tank might still be patched as discussed and used as a
sump/refugium. Bob Fenner>
Re: Emergency! chipped corner 9/18/09
OK, Mr. Fenner, you've really put the fear of God into me
now! <Heeee! Can we settle on the fear of Bob?> I just
bought a bunch of large bins, I've already begun removing the
water and live rock and located a replacement tank, which
we'll try to get set up tonight. Thank you so much, you
probably averted a fish tragedy, if not a human one. We just
didn't want to believe it was that bad, you know? Thanks
again, Elise <Welcome Elise... BobF, who had a small
circular/corner crack in a rental property window
"just" give way altogether yesterday...>
Re: Emergency! chipped corner, PROBLEM WITH NEW
TANK 9/20/08 You're a prince among
men! Um, I don't know when the tank was made. It was sitting
in their showroom. Should I call them and ask? Or should I just
observe it? Should I be alarmed if it gets bigger? OK, think
I've got all my questions out! Elise <Have seen your
following email. Will resp. there. B>
Re: Emergency! chipped corner, PROBLEM WITH NEW
TANK 9/20/08 Hi Mr. Fenner, <Just
Bob please> I know I'm wearing out my welcome, but I do
need some guidance. I had filled the tank back up and marked the
edge of the bubble with a piece of tape. The bubble has visibly
grown, about 1/16th of an inch, from where I marked it with a
piece of tape just three hours ago. I took the pictures to the
pet store. They were concerned that it's getting bigger. They
are trying to set up for a service guy to come to my home with
another new tank and do all the work of switching it. They're
trying to get the manufacturer to reimburse them and then
they're going to call me if/when it's all set up. They
told me to drain the system down, which I just did again, to a
few inches above the bubble. Should I proceed with letting them
switch out the tank? <This is likely best, though
unwarranted> Is everyone overreacting here? <Better to be
over concerned than not> I'm concerned about my poor,
stressed-out livestock. But the fact that the store is concerned
enough to go such lengths to get me a new tank makes me think I
should just let them do it. Thoughts? Elise <This too shall
Cracked tank 9/15/08 I just
got a 240 gal. with 7 holes drilled in the back. i hit a door jam
carrying it in and it got a diagonal crack in the back glass. It starts
about halfway at the bottom and goes to about a foot up to one of the
bulkheads. the crack is about 16" long but the glass hasn't
shifted and u cant even feel it. i think that a piece of glass or
Plexiglas on the inner and outer side will do the trick. i plan on
using pieces that cover the full pane so that the patch won't be as
obvious. The 7 holes all have bulkheads which i believe will add extra
support to the patchwork. i am wondering if glass or Plexiglas would be
better how thick and what kind of glues to bind it? any information
would be helpful and very much appreciated. THANK YOU <Mmm, due to
the nature of this crack... the long pane, diagonal and hole
involvement... I would NOT suggest this repair... Perhaps this tank can
be "fixed" to be filled part way (maybe half), but I would
NOT consider any overlaying to be safe myself. Bob
Aquarium repair dilemma
8/19/08 Hi Bob, <Tony> Have a 100 gallon aquarium that
spontaneously sprung a leak today. I got home today and found about 30
gallons of water on my living room floor and down in the basement.
<Oooh, no fun> After moving the fish to a neighboring 30 gallon
aquarium and completely draining and cleaning the big tank out, I found
the leak was just some lose sealant between the front and bottom pane.
I read through all of your aquarium repair faqs (and learned quite a
bit ) and think I can confidently fix this without any problem.
<Good> Looking back, I probably should have replaced all of the
sealant when the tank was given to me just to be safe, but didn't.
<I've said/done this myself a few times... and continue to not
re-do!> It was an old in the wall tank that my girlfriend didn't
want to deal with anymore. I said I thought it would look nice in my
new house and it was suddenly mine. Anyway, now the problem - I also
saw a 6" crack in the middle of the bottom glass pane extending
from the right side toward the center (that didn't used to be
there). It doesn't go all the way through the glass (you can feel
it from underneath but not inside the tank). Would it be
possible/feasible/advisable to get a pane of glass the same size as the
base and seal it to the existing bottom pane under the tank (or inside
the tank) since the crack doesn't go all the way through?
<Yes> I really didn't want to take the entire thing apart and
rebuild it with a new bottom pane if I could avoid it. Thanks, Tony
<Do carefully measure the space... get it to fit w/in an eighth of
an inch short on all four edges... DO carefully (single edge razor
blades) cut out the existing Silastic... GET help putting the new panel
in place... SEAL it in with many fine swirls of new Silicone...>
P.S. Happy birthday to you. Reading your bio we share the same day!
<Thank you. Many co-birthday friends and I celebrate in the Hash
House Harriers together... Will include you in my thoughts this
upcoming event. Cheers, Bob Fenner (Dogfish)>
Issue or not? My new 240 has mystery bubble/chip
in glass Pics included 8/19/08 Hi crew, So I got this
tank setup a couple of weeks ago. I had it built in Early July,
picked up on the 10th or so of July. Filled it up on August 6 I
believe. There is a photo before where it doesn't show the
bubble and now where you can and some close up shots. It is on
the inside of the tank as if there was a chip on the side that
was not noticed when dry. Now that there is water in it, it has
shown up. I can not feel it from the inside of the tank when
pressing on the sealant. What should I do? Have you guys seen
this before? <The bubbling does show up over time at times...
either from forces "pulling" the gas into larger
view/size, sometimes from microbial involvement (metabolism). I
would do nothing re it. The chip here is worrisome... something
struck inward of this panel at an obtuse angle... If you live in
an area where the ground shakes, I would take this tank down,
Silicone a panel of glass of some size over this area on the
outside of the tank, turns this panel to the wall. (Use the other
side as the front). Bob Fenner>
Fish Tank Crack or Scratch? (No Pics!) --
08/02/08 Hi! <<Hello Grace>> I recently got a fish tank
that's about fifteen gallons on Craigslist. <<Neat>>
When I went to pick it up I looked at it and thought it was fine until
I took it home. <<Uh-oh>> The person had filled the bottom
with some gravel and when I took the gravel out to clean it, I saw
these weird black "scratches" on them.
<<Hmm'¦>> The weird thing is when you feel them
some are raised bumps and some are dips. I don't know what to make
out of the situation! <<Neither do I without some pictures of the
tank and the damage>> Could I somehow fix this tank so I can put
fish in? <<I have no way of knowing for sure by your description
alone, but if the tank bottom is cracked you will not be able to use
this tank. Repair 'is' possible but would need to be done
carefully by someone familiar with the process and even then is likely
more trouble and expense than this tank is worth. My first suggestion
is to return the tank for a refund, if possible/practical. Otherwise,
you could take it to a good LFS in your area and let them see it
first-hand and advise you on its condition and feasibility for
repair>> Thank you so much! Grace <<Happy to share.