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Regarding the degradation of rubber, I've heard it's not a failsafe idea to keep spare rubber gaskets/washers on hand in case the kitchen or bathroom sink needs one. Apparently (over a few years), the rubber dries up, becomes brittle and cracks while sitting on the shelf. The reason given to me was that the oils in the rubber gradually evaporate although, to me, they don't seem to be natural oils. These are not the symptoms asked about here, but it indicates that rubber can degrade.