Our Gurus of How-To

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

A winter wind is blowing and the Gurus of How-To, Al Ubell and Larry Ubell, are here to offer advice on winterizing your home, fixing your furnace, and tackling other home repair issues! Call 646-829-3985 with your questions or leave a comment.


Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [21]

David from Brooklyn

I have a ceramic tile floor in my kitchen that is in very good shape but I hate the pattern. Can I simply put new ceramic tile over it or do I have to rip it up first?

Dec. 08 2010 01:58 PM
katie from east village

I live in a east village tenement rental. It seems that all my drains: kitchen sink, bathroom sink, bathtub--are connected. When i do dishes and drain the sink, water (and bits of stuff) back up into the tub. And occasionally the bathroom sink. This can't be good...and it seems to be worse than it used to be. How concerned should i be?

Dec. 08 2010 01:55 PM
Hugh Mullican from Brooklyn

Does anybody remember what is the name of the seat that is used to transfer a person from ship-to-ship?

Dec. 08 2010 01:51 PM
tomt from long island city

The construction at the "Christmas Market" at Union Square Market has created a very unsafe crowded situation. To whom do we report this? The local fire dept.?

Dec. 08 2010 01:49 PM
Gut Rehabs

Can the gurus recommend a book that walks an aspiring "rental income" building owner through the process of a gut rehab?

Dec. 08 2010 01:47 PM
CT from Harlem

Now that I have my radiators on, water is condensing on the inside of my windows and pooling on my wooden windowsills, causing the windowsills to grow mold and warp. What can I do?

Dec. 08 2010 01:47 PM

bosun's chair

Also, what is the best way to patch (invisibly) a crack in a foundation "parging"?

Dec. 08 2010 01:45 PM

In my apartment I have floors of old 9x9 floor tiles - the kind that were made with asbestos. I've read that it is better to cover them rather than remove them. Can I cover them with ceramic tiles? If so, do I have to put something over them before I put down the thin-set cement and new tiles?

Dec. 08 2010 01:43 PM
Arch Currie

The device you're asking about is a Bos'ns Chair

Dec. 08 2010 01:39 PM

I don't know if this is related to cold weather home issues, but I'll ask anyway: I live in a railroad apartment building that shares a wall with the next building. Since the weather has turned cold and heat has been activated, I've heard a roaring sound from the basement of the adjacent building. It runs for increments of about 1-3 minutes, about twice an hour, 24/7. I've inspected our own basement during the noise sessions, and it's definitely not coming from our building.

Could this be the boiler next door? Is it a generator? This wasn't happening when our own heat wasn't on, so I wonder if it has to do with something related to the weather. It's driving me insane, and I'd like to be able to at least offer some research before calling 311 on the landlord next door.

Thank you!

Dec. 08 2010 01:39 PM
Ben from Ridgewood

My landlord is installing individual boilers for heating and hot water in apartments in our building. He seems to be working without a permit and we often smell gas when the work is being done. Is this legal?

Dec. 08 2010 01:38 PM
Marko from clinton hill

I have an EBV zone valve installed to control my heating system.
I think it is around 5 years old.
It does not seem to respond properly.
ie, does not recognize temp, more noisy than ever, does not seem to always fully open/close valve...
good show

Dec. 08 2010 01:37 PM
Amber from Manhattan

I don't understand how bathroom sinks work. How does the water flow 'up' from the trap? The trap is much lower than the pipe that it attaches to which flows into the wall. Why doesn't the water just stay in the trap and back up into the sink? How does it actually flow up and into the pipe?

Dec. 08 2010 01:36 PM
laura from brooklyn

Is it more energy efficient to convert a gas-fueled water heater to an electric hybrid heater? I'm specifically considering the GE hybrid. Also, in order to qualify for a federal tax rebate, is there a GAS water heater model (that's not a tankless version) that can be installed in Brooklyn NY?

Dec. 08 2010 01:33 PM
tom from astoria

Have you ever mentioned on the show how to tell if the white paint in your home has lead in it? As an artist I know that lead white will discolour, turn brownish, if kept out of daylight. Exposed to daylight it will gradually lose the brown color. So look under pictures on the wall -- they will leave a brownish area where they have hung, if it is lead-based paint. Leonard should now this, having been a painter.

Dec. 08 2010 01:30 PM
Sara from Park Slope, Brooklyn

My bathroom floor is sinking in some of the tiles are sinking in. Someone said my sub floor is cracked and sinking. It is about a foot x foot size. Can I just repair this area or do I have to replace the whole floor?

Dec. 08 2010 01:29 PM
Joel from Westchester

Is it good idea to have shrubbery, trees, etc, to touch the walls of a home (brick, in my case) -- or cut it back?

Dec. 08 2010 01:28 PM
Mark Hughes from Manhattan

On your recommendation a year or two ago to keep the temperature in the apartment down, I installed Danfoss thermostatic valves on my radiators. The salesman was careful to tell me that they wouldn't work if the steam pressure ever got above 1 psi. unfortunately, to keep the old folks on the upper floors happy, I think the super does raise the pressure above this limit and one unit has stopped working. I'm planning to replace the valve, rather than the operator, but want to know if Danfoss sells a unit that will work with a variable pressure around 1 psi.

Dec. 08 2010 01:26 PM
lisa from Maplewood, NJ

Hi, I live in a 1929 french tudor house in Maplewood nj. All of the windows in the house are original. The screen for each window rolls up inside the window frame. I'm wondering if you have ever seen this before. Many of the screens are ripped and I wanted to know if you have any idea how to repair them or who can repair them. I've looked all over the internet and have called some window places but no one seems to know what to do with them. In the summer we can't open many of the windows because so many of the screens are ripped.

Thanks so much

Dec. 08 2010 01:06 PM
Lisa from westchester

I have an old set of french doors. Sometimes when it rains(windy rain) water seeps through where the glass and wood meet and where the wood parts of the door are joined. Is there anything I can do to make the doors more weather resistant until I can afford to replace them. Could I use a clear caulk and then polyurethane the wood to help seal everything. Thanks!!

Dec. 08 2010 12:37 PM
Marianne Bongolan from Staten Islnad

Dear Gurus,
We have an old house built in the 1930's and about 7 years ago we have repleced our old heater with a Weil-McLain EG 40 gas fired steam boyler.
The main problem now is that it heats fine downstais where the programmable thermostat registers 73 degrees, however, it consistently misses some of the upper bedrooms where it is about 65 degrees. Somehow the heat misses, the radiators are cool or lukewarm upstairs. The only time we have efficient heat upstairs is in the early morning, after the pipes were cold all night. (We also have quite a bit of knocking noise.)
A plumber recently replced the low water cut off instrument and since then the automatic replenishments of water stopped doing the replenishment. The waterline is all the way up in the gauge glass and loos very rusty. When we called back the plumber, he checked and commented:"don't worry..."
Any suggestion ? Thank you.

Dec. 08 2010 12:16 PM

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