The Gurus of How-To on Summertime Home Maintenance

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

The Gurus of How-To, Al Ubell and Larry Ubell, are here to offer advice on home repair matters.

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


Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [23]

Elin from New Jersey

Answer about name for lights : fairy lights

May. 02 2012 02:51 PM
Random NYer

I recently listened to this segment w/ the Gurus from June and ended-up transcribing the part at the beginning of the show about black smoke from chimneys. I figured I'd share this transcription for anyone else who would appreciate it.

Lopate: Right now, we’re transitioning into hot weather...

Larry Ubell: You call that a transition?!


Al Ubell: It’s expected

Lopate: of the questions that you said you got in email is, “Why is smoke belching out of my apartment house chimney on days like today?”

Larry Ubell: Well still, they have to produce domestic hot water and most of that equipment is produced by the large boiler-- usually a No. 6 boiler, and No. 6 oil is very thick, it’s what the Mayor has been speaking about, he’s trying to get rid of No. 6, to try to clean the air up a bit.

And these types of units really work their best when they’re on for long periods of time. Well, when you’re making domestic hot water, you don’t need to have the boiler on for that much, actually the peak hours for domestic hot water is [sic] between 5, 5:30 and 8:30 in the morning. After that, the amount of domestic hot water consumed in a residential building is minimal. So, it works well for a while but then it constantly has to keep the temperature of the boiler up and that’s when it’s most inefficient. And that’s why they’re trying to get them to change-over either to gas, or to get them to change over to No. 2 oil.

Al Ubell: A lighter-weight oil. But that smoke is supposed to be controlled by the Superintendent. In fact, there are devices on the boiler itself that shut the boiler down if too much smoke comes out, and you’re only allowed to have so much smoke for a certain period of time, and the department of air, pollution and smoke-control is supposed to be involved in that and monitoring the entire city--

Larry Ubell: But I have to say that sometimes, some Supers who have problems disable that detection device. So if you see smoke coming out of a chimney for more than fifteen to thirty seconds, you might want to call the...

Al Ubell: The Department of Buildings will take care of it.

Jan. 11 2012 12:33 PM
karen fleming

I am the President of a sixty seven unit condo.
One of our neighbors took a seven hour trip by train to Vigrinia and shortly after her
return discovered bed-bugs in her apt.
What would you recommend to get rid of the bed-bugs and what can I do to prevent
other apts from being infected ?
Thank you for your time.

Aug. 20 2011 10:49 AM
April from Westchester

Quick question concerning a bug "infestation"- moths in particular. Like an earlier caller said, it's not necessarily an "infestation" but there are certainly enough to make it noticably annoying. It's only occurred in the past 2 years, where do they come from?? How can you help to get rid of them?

Jun. 08 2011 01:53 PM

i live in a 6 story brick 1960 co-op.
recently there have been a number of cold water riser pipe leaks all over the building. THESE occurred in different verticle apartment lines.
since they were in the intake, riser, i am windering if a filter should be inplace between the city supply and our pipes. i had 2 kitchen sinks that cold water side failed , when i took them off i found black chunks, of possible gasket material at the first filter screen. i don' trust the managing company, since they let the vendors through the broken tiles and debris in between floors when the repairs are made, this causes the whole ceiling to be replaced if their is another leak, plus we are paying them to remove their debris.
i suspect the managing agent or one of his plumbers would remove a filter if there was one there, or a filter would stop a lot of these leaks that are very expensive to fix, since they are between floors.

Jun. 08 2011 01:49 PM
Matthew from brooklyn

Answer: Cupola

Jun. 08 2011 01:47 PM
Julia from Brooklyn

Is there any free website you can recommend for comparison shopping for window A/Cs? or even recommend one for 8000-10000 BTUs that is quiet and energy efficient?

Jun. 08 2011 01:46 PM
John H from croton on hudson

I have a oil furnace with baseboard heat in my home.
What are the proper temerature settings on the furnace?
When the annual maintainence is done I believe the oil company turns up the temperatures.

Jun. 08 2011 01:45 PM
pliny from nyc

a Ramada?

Jun. 08 2011 01:44 PM
David from Queens

Need help with the window AC insulation in our 6th floor pre-wary rental apartment building (facing west).

The sliding accordion covers on either side of the AC are virtually useless and let in a lot of hot air and sometimes rain. What is a good way to insulate these noting that we take the AC's out from October - May. Also, when it's windy outside we get loud whistling from the vents.

Jun. 08 2011 01:41 PM

Regarding a cracked pipe in the bathroom, you asked if there were little flies. I do have little flies (even in the winter). Could you address this? Thank you.

Jun. 08 2011 01:38 PM
Phoebe from Bushwick

Can you use a swamp cooler in NY? I have heard that it won't work, but I don't understand why.

Jun. 08 2011 01:37 PM
Matthew from Brooklyn

I live in a rental with double pane windows. There are spots on the windows in-between the panes. Is there a way to clean those spots?

Jun. 08 2011 01:35 PM
April from Yupper West Side

Other things our glorious mayor should do if he's serious about being green is get rid of the screens in the back of cabs, which use energy even when they're off, And make it illegal for stores to leave their doors open to theoretically lure customers in for the AC. I ask employees to close the doors and they're sympathetic, but they say they're not allowed. Another store has a door that opens every time someone walks by. That should be illegal too. If we were allowed to be extreme, as extreme as the climate is getting, a law to turn off the lights in stores after a certain time at night would be a good idea. The ultimate would be one child per couple. Too many people is leading to mass extinctions, and may even be killing the ocean, hence life on the planet, according to scientists. Plenty of homeless kids around the world.

Jun. 08 2011 01:35 PM
Carl from Norwood

You said that an air conditioner needs to be at an angle to drain properly? My maintenance guy moved my a/c to secure it and it's been leaking water on the window sill. Can it be seated incorrectly?

Jun. 08 2011 01:34 PM
Harvey from Hells Kitchen

I live in a rental building where each room has a combined free standing a/c and heating unit in front of the window. Each Spring the building comes in and replaces the air conditioning filters. I recently read that the filter should be cleaned monthly. Does this apply to units such as mine?

Jun. 08 2011 01:33 PM
tom from astoria

Summer is a time to paint -- How do you know if you have LEAD painton your walls? Leonard should know -as a former artist- that lead white turns a brownish color when away from daylight, so look under behind pictures -- if the wall is darker BEHIND where the picture was, it's lead paint. (lead paint will whiten when only when exposed to daylight)

Jun. 08 2011 01:31 PM
jayr Pulga from Queens

I have a slow leak in the central air system of my single family home, that uses R22 coolant. Considering that R22 is no longer manufactured, do you suggest I replace the compressor, which is 16 years old but still in good shape, with a compressor that uses a coolant still being manufactured, or should I just fix the leak and refill with R22 ?

Jun. 08 2011 01:30 PM
Dian (pronounced "Dionne") from Bloomfield, NJ

Hi there -- Love your show, and the Ubell's, who incidentally we found through WNYC, and who inspected our home before we purchased it. So, we have a pest control specialist coming to treat our home later this week for what appears to be an upsurge of carpenter ants (large, black ants). If they've been visible to us around the perimeter and inside our home for several weeks, should we be worried about damage we can't see? Thanks!

Jun. 08 2011 01:29 PM
micki from woodside, NY 11377

we have a large north facing brick wall that has peeling paint on it. The interior stairway is behind this brick wall and it is very cold in the winter (40 deg). This summer we would like to cover it with a decoplast or some type of stucco. What advice can you give us to insulate this wall from temprature and noise (we have a loud bar attached to the back of the house.)

should we put foam on the brick or insulate from inside????

Jun. 08 2011 01:26 PM
Arthur Bell from park slope, bklyn

I want to put stucco on the back of my Park Slope wood frame home. Any reason not to? Any thoughts? And I mean real, concrete stucco.

Jun. 08 2011 01:24 PM
Thomas Caffrey from Manhattan

Please tell us what is needed in a THOROUGH A/C cleaning.
Thank you!

Jun. 08 2011 01:24 PM
Raymond from Long Island

I have seen a lot of advertisement for window film and window tinting as a means to cut glare, protect furniture and save energy. I am considering using this treatment for a large sunny window in my living room. Does it really work? How long does it last? Also if it does cut solar heat gain in the summer, does it mean my room will be cold in the winter? I would appreciate your input.
Thank you.

Jun. 08 2011 12:18 PM

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