The Gurus of How-To on Preparing for Fall and Winter

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Gurus of How-To, Al Ubell and Larry Ubell, are here to offer advice on home repair matters, from drooping stoop steps to leaking roofs and sagging wood floors.

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


Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [23]

Kent from Bergen County, NJ

We recently replaced our electric dryer, which was regularly tripping the circuit breaker. Upon first using the new Kenmore electric dryer, the circuit breaker was tripped after ten minutes into cycle. We re-set the breaker and the same thing happened again. The circuit switch says "30" and we were told that this is sufficient. That person suggested cleaning the socket, which we did, but to no avail. Any advice? Thank you. Kent Stoltzman

Oct. 12 2011 02:11 PM
VC from Manhattan

Did the woman with the higher electric bill check to see if the supply cost changed from month to month? I switched my supplier after noticing a jump from 10 cents per kWh to 17 cents. I did my research on Con Ed's Power Your Way list of suppliers and looked at individual company's rates if I could find it online.

Oct. 12 2011 01:57 PM
Michael of Brooklyn

I laid a new red oak floor. My wife over-applied the stain. It's already set, but we have not yet put any polyurethane on it. Is there a chemical I can use to remove the excess, or is sanding my only option?

Oct. 12 2011 01:53 PM
David Smith from Rockland County

Its a Knockdown knife!!!! right? i work as a screen printer and although we just call em squeegees. I had to do some quick thinking at Home Depot and get one while we were in a pinch!

Oct. 12 2011 01:48 PM
Lewis from the bowery

I recently installed a tankless electric waterheater, and I really like it, but it keeps tripping the circuit breaker in the fuse box. What's the best way to increase the capacity of the circuit, and can I do it myself?

Oct. 12 2011 01:41 PM
Michael of Brooklyn

Roofing. What is the difference between fibered and non-fibered aluminum roof coatings?

Oct. 12 2011 01:41 PM
Susan from Brooklyn

Our Brooklyn brownstone co-op has discovered mold behind the Sheetrock in several apartments. The Sheetrock is being removed & we're considering going back to plaster. Does anyone still do plaster walls?

Oct. 12 2011 01:40 PM
Jack from Sunnyside

I have a small house with an enclosed porch, and I was considering turning the porch into a 4-season porch. I've heard about foam insulation that can be injected into the walls and ceiling: when is this type of insulation appropriate, and are there any complications with using this type of insulation when electrical wiring is present in the walls and ceiling of the porch?

Oct. 12 2011 01:40 PM
LJ from Crown Heights, Brooklyn

What type of grass grows best in NYC and when should I plant it. Our yard gets absolutely no sunlight because of buildings all around but I feel like I am wasting perfectly good outdoor space...any ideas to make it useable and get grass growing?

Oct. 12 2011 01:39 PM
Robert from Westwood NJ

House centipedes are becoming an issue in my basement and are now coming upstairs. Hows can I rid my house of them?

Oct. 12 2011 01:39 PM

Is it necessary to hire a "waterproofing" company to waterproof our basement and crawl space? Can we do this ourselves? If so, what are the steps?

Also, how would we know if we have a mold problem or not?

Oct. 12 2011 01:39 PM
Joel from Westchester

For the accordion extensions on AC units not blocking cold air: I have used cut-to-size foam rubber inserts.

Oct. 12 2011 01:36 PM
Alan from Elmont NY

for the building with the extra $3000 per quarter for the water bill...which building supplies the water for your landscaping sprinklers? that could be a HUGE cost that one building is taking on.

Oct. 12 2011 01:35 PM
Ruth from Queens

Small frame house... last year had problems with ICE DAMS for the 1st time ever... what to do?
any inexpensive solutions?

Oct. 12 2011 01:32 PM
Whoindatgarden from Brooklyn

The answer to the question is a Float

Oct. 12 2011 01:31 PM
Darrell from Prospect Heights

Hi guys,

My apartment has a steel front door with a deadbolt. The door and the frame aren't aligned properly, and because of this I have to lean on it with my full weight just to lock it. It's incredibly frustrating, but the landlord is convinced that nothing can done about it. Is this true?

Oct. 12 2011 01:31 PM
Pete from Westwood

How to fix a dripping outdoor spigot? I used a screwdriver as a lever through the spigot knob to turn it as far as I could, but it's still dripping. When I tried to remove the handle, the rusty screw holding it in place began to strip. Help, gurus!

Oct. 12 2011 01:27 PM
Pete from Westwood

How to fix a dripping outdoor spigot? I used a screwdriver as a lever through the spigot knob to turn it as far as I could, but it's still dripping. When I tried to remove the handle, the rusty screw holding it in place began to strip. Help, gurus!

Oct. 12 2011 01:26 PM
Tom from Staten Island

I live in a four unit co op on Staten island. Each unit has about 12 residents and are substantially similiar. However, one building receives a water bill which 3-4 times the other buildings indicating individual usage of 2-300 gallons a day. Absent a hidden still, there is no reason for the disparity yet the city disclaims any possibility of a malfunctioning meter. We asked for an audit an inspector said looked at the unit and said it was working. What are our options?

Oct. 12 2011 01:12 PM
Stuart from manhattan

re: Anne's toilet problem -

those water saving toilets are useless...

Oct. 12 2011 12:47 PM
Laura from UWS

Where to look and how to seal up cracks.

Strategies--- for traps, poison.

Oct. 12 2011 12:41 PM
Tiffany from South Orange.

I have a tankless hot water heater that is two years old and working perfectly. Over the weekend we installed a HE washing machine, and the pressure value for the hot water heater started leaking dramatically, now it's a slow steady leak about a drop every 30 seconds when water is running. What's going on and is there a device we can install? Rheem - the heater manufacturer says return the washer or call a plumber.

Oct. 12 2011 12:26 PM
Anne from Manhattan

Can you talk us through how to make a weak toilet flush better? All of ours require a minimum of 2 flushes for anything to go down. Up to 4 for more "substantial" flushes. Is there a fix, or do we just need better toilets?

Oct. 12 2011 12:03 PM

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