The Gurus of How-To Spring Forward

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Gurus of How-To, Al Ubell and Larry Ubell, are here to offer advice on spring cleaning, combatting drafts, fixing your furnace, and tackling other home repair issues.

Call 646-829-3985 with your questions or leave a comment.

Today's Quiz
Question: Name the ancient, elaborately designed beam that is supported by columns found on classical structures that makes up the cornice and sometimes the roof?

Answer: Entablature


Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [13]

Howard from The Bronx

2 questions:

How much exterminating would have to happen to get rid of bugs under shingles?

My sister has a stream under her basement which floods her basement if her sump pump fails. She has put in a French drain with a pump that cycles pretty continuously. I assume this runs up her electric bill. Is there a way of just diverting this water without pumping? The street drain is downhill from the house.

Apr. 13 2011 01:54 PM
Edward from NJ

Guys, wasting water *is* wasting energy.

Apr. 13 2011 01:54 PM
Jennifer from Suffolk County Long Island

I have had woodpeckers making holes in a new house with new shingles. The woodpeckers are tapping on the shingles to mark their territory. Shingles make a loud sound similar to a dead tree. Much louder than a live tree.

Apr. 13 2011 01:49 PM
craig from brooklyn

i've suddenly got a very bad mice infestation in a home that in the 13 years i've been there, never had mice. i've had exterminators come by twice, at about $400 each visit, and while the mice disappear for a month or two, they come back. what are the exterminators missing? they even sealed off holes and i see nothing (i live in the middle of the block of a brownstone street) in the front or the back where they could be getting in.

Apr. 13 2011 01:46 PM
rita from Tribeca

There is a mystery smell in my house. I've lived in an old, under-repaired loft building for two years now -- its a raw space, and there are four other apartments, one above and three below mine -- and I have learned to dread the advent of warmer weather because of an absolutely unbearable pestilential stink that arises when the temperatures get higher. It is concentrated in the front of the house, and I know my neighbor upstairs has the same problem. We thought that a pipe leak is a possibility, but the kitchens and bathrooms of all five apartments are all on the opposite side of the house. Air-purifiers, exhaust fan, all kinds of odor masking contraptions -- nothing works! Please help!!

Apr. 13 2011 01:46 PM
GingerK from Jersey City, NJ

My 114-year-old brick row house in Jersey City needs to be repointed. I'm considering having it washed, too, but I'm scared. The brick I've seen around town that has been washed looks weird. Even with the contractors who work in the historic district and say they're careful, the brick looks like it's lost is hard smooth finish, the edges don't look crisp and square anymore, and the brick looks porous. Any advice? Should I just not wash it? It's a bit sooty but not terrible.


Apr. 13 2011 01:40 PM

The answer is Trigylph!?

Apr. 13 2011 01:40 PM
Magali Regis

Response to Larry Ubbell's question:
Below the cornice might be called the entablature or the architrave, no?

Apr. 13 2011 01:39 PM
sel from manhattan

Question. My roommate had an aerosol deodorant leak all over my wood floors. I tried to mop it off with water and it seems to not come off. Any suggestions?

The wood floors are a high shine.

And what are some best ways to clean the floor, in general. I usually just sweep and mop with just water.

Also what is a good way to clean marble tile in the shower and for the floor surrounding a toilet.

Apr. 13 2011 01:37 PM
Edward from NJ

I was looking into a filtered drinking water tap for my kitchen sink. I went with a regular 3-stage filter. Along the way, I learned that the top-of-the-line reverse osmosis systems waste at *least* 4 gallons of water to generate 1 gallon of filtered water -- in some cases much, much more. This seems ridiculous, and I'm wondering if any states or municipalities restrict their use or if there's any movement to do so.

Apr. 13 2011 01:36 PM
Gary from NYC

Is it architrave?

Apr. 13 2011 01:36 PM
Tab from Manhattan

I have soot-like film building up in my propane-fueled dryer. Any ideas of why, and how to avoid this?

Apr. 13 2011 01:25 PM
JoeM from Brooklyn

A/C Spring Cleaning

So I had these guys come over to service my A/C's. These are through-the window A/C's (14,000btus, and 10,000btus).

They took one quick look at them and said they were "very very old" (they are 12 years old) and said that the compressors were about to fail. They quoted me $500 each to replace the compressors and $1200 each to replace the A/C's (they are top end Friedrich A/C's).

So, what should I do? Should I:

(1) Sit tight and risk that they will fail?
(2) Get them properly cleaned, and then also risk that they will fail?
(3) spend $3,000 to replace them?

Apr. 13 2011 12:57 PM

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