Streams

Alvin and Lawrence Ubell, the Gurus of How-To

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

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

Call 212-433-9692 with your questions or leave a comment below!

Guests:

Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [32]

Bubbie from Putnam County from PUTNAM COUNTY NY

THE SUGGESTION THAT SEPTIC SYSTEMS REQUIRE CLEANING EVERY 5 YEARS IS FOOLISH ADVICE. WE ARE IN AN AREA WHERE EVERYONE HAS A SEPTIC SYSTEM AND HAVE NEVER HEARD THIS. SEPTICS SHOULD BE CLEANED EVERY 2 YEARS. LEGITIMATE
COMPANIES THAT DO THIS WORK AND GET TO KNOW YOUR SYSTEM, WILL ADVISE...AND SEND NOTICES WHEN THE SYSTEM SHOULD BE PURGED. 5 YEARS WOULD SEE MOST HOMES FLOATING AWAY IN A SEA OF FILTH.

May. 02 2012 02:01 PM
Teal from tarrytown

Tivoli is a brand name, one company that makes the lights. its like calling plastic laminate "Formica'

May. 02 2012 01:58 PM
amorris from nyc

hi, i have a wood shingle house on the beach, is there any way to stop the smell of damp?

May. 02 2012 01:56 PM
Sarah from Scarsdale

Quiz answer : string lights ?

May. 02 2012 01:55 PM
Carol from Manhattan

The string of lights is called a festoon ...

May. 02 2012 01:55 PM
Ed Donohue

Is the Answer Limelights ?

May. 02 2012 01:55 PM
Vanessa from Brooklyn

Festoon lighting!

May. 02 2012 01:54 PM
Amy

Fairy lights?

May. 02 2012 01:54 PM
Jon from Manhattan

Answer: Festoon lighting

May. 02 2012 01:53 PM
allison from new jersey

We would like to waterproof our basement once and for all. To do the job right do we have to use the expensive service where they drill numerous holes in the foundation for drainage? The estimate we got for this type of waterproofing was $15,000.

May. 02 2012 01:52 PM
Gary from Mamaroneck

I always heard that style of lights were called Runner Lights

May. 02 2012 01:52 PM
Angela from Manhattan

I live in a co-op and will be renovating the kitchen soon. I would like to have a real range hood installed ( rather than just a fan that blows smoke around). I can't break through an outer wall to vent a hood. Is it possible to set up a system to vent through the top of the kitchen window that would allow the area around it to be sealed so the window doesn't leak?

May. 02 2012 01:52 PM
Stephen from prospect heights

Moved refrigerator, stove/over, every piece of furniture, looked under sinks, etc and there are no holes or spaces and here there is I have a ton of steel wool stuffed in the space, but somehow rodents are entering my apartment. Any suggestions or cluse to prevent infestation?

May. 02 2012 01:50 PM
Shelly drori from mountainside, NJ

The lights are called Fairy Lights

May. 02 2012 01:50 PM
DAN RUIZ from HICKSVILLE

MY FIRST FLOOR IS SLAB CONSTRU. CAN I USE AN ANTIFREEZE IN THE PIPES THAT GO THRU THE CONCRETE AND HOW DO U INSTALL THAT, TO INHIBIT FREEZING. COPPER PIPES

May. 02 2012 01:49 PM
rosemary

i know the answer but the line is busy!

May. 02 2012 01:48 PM
Lance Rosenthal from Hartsdale

I believe the lights are called chasers.

May. 02 2012 01:46 PM
rosalie from astoria

I have a sky light inside my apartment that used to be in the hallway but after a reno, it is now inside the apartment. My apt. is always very cold in the winter and hot, hot in the summer. Is it better to insulate the skylight with plexiglass or leave it open in summer for the heat to "escape"? And what about in the winter?

May. 02 2012 01:45 PM
Charlotte from Brooklyn

NO NO, do NOT use that aluminum foil method of "polishing" silver!!. It seems magical and simple, but it is BAD for your silver. It gives it a dull, grey look. No silversmith or silver dealer will recommend this method.

May. 02 2012 01:45 PM
Sue B from Brooklyn

Re the silver cleaning question:

I do it all the time.

The product you need is Arm and Hammer Super Washing Soda. I found it in my local super market.

Use a glass (NOT metal)dish; place aluminum foil and some washing soda in the dish,add your silver item and then pour in boiling water.
Works like a charm.

May. 02 2012 01:44 PM

To the woman asking about silver polish - it's salt or baking soda and hot water in an aluminum pan. I don't know if tin foil has any actual aluminum in it, so maybe that's what ruined her piece. Or maybe it was not silverplate.

May. 02 2012 01:43 PM
Stephen from New York, NY

Smoke/Carbon Monoxide Alarms?

I'm renovating a house and we're trying to figure out with the electricians if we need to have hardwired alarms that go to the main (110v) electrical system, or if we can use the low-voltage ones that are linked in with our burglar alarm system. Are both legal? It seems like the linked in one is better.

May. 02 2012 01:41 PM
stephen from Lower East SIde

to clean silver like magic. TarnX.

http://www.jelmar.com/TarnXbasic.htm

May. 02 2012 01:40 PM
John from Clinton hill

This in in particular, we have been seeing more and more water bugs in our basement and on our ground floor; in fact we found a nest of them all clumped together in our basement. Barring chemicals or an exterminator, what's the best way to rid of them....(we have three cats).
John
Clinton Hill

May. 02 2012 01:40 PM
Capper from NYC

Does't toothpaste clean silver safely????

May. 02 2012 01:39 PM
Lilianna Husseini from Manhattan

I live in a building that has casement windows (they crank out)...the windows don't have screens. I want to keep the bugs out of the apt. Can you recommend a vendor who makes removable mesh screens for casement windows?

May. 02 2012 01:37 PM
Phoebe from Bushwick

For some reason, the screen on the window with an airconditioning cage has been sealed shut with acrylic or silicone. I asked the super to unseal it, and he just wants to cut out the screen (they are the kind that slide up and down). Is there a chemical I can use to get rid of the sealant?

May. 02 2012 01:37 PM
Theresa from New Rochelle

Some people may have a bad/weak hand or arm and have to go up the "wrong" side.

May. 02 2012 01:37 PM
Billy from Long Island

How do you get rid of or diminish tree roots that some times can get into sewer lines or other external in ground pipes. Every ten years I hire a company to clean out the roots, is there anything to slow the growth of these roots?

May. 02 2012 01:36 PM
Kelly McDonald from Brooklyn

I am renovating the cellar level of my townhouse in Brooklyn. What material should I use to adequately address soundproofing, thermal insulation and fireproofing in the party walls? They are currently 4 X 4 wood studs with one layer of brick infill and covered with plaster and lathe, but the house was built circa 1860 and the walls are not in good shape. We are in the process of removing the plaster and lathe. Should we replace the brick infill with a more soundproof/thermal material? The house is only 13 feet wide, so losing as little floorspace as possible is certainly an issue.

May. 02 2012 01:25 PM
Jan from Larchmont, NY

I live in the town whose police officer died yesterday in a home fire. How do I know that my hard-wired smoke detector works? Should I start a small fire (in a container) and hold it near a smoke detector?

May. 02 2012 01:16 PM
Steve from Barryville, NY

I moved to the country a couple of years ago after living in the city my entire adult life, and, of course, I now have something completely foreign to me: a septic system. The house I bought was new, and I've been very careful about what I've allowed to go down the drain. My question is, how do I know when it's time to have the septic tank cleaned? Is it strictly a matter of time, or are there telltale signs? I'm assuming if I defer to the advice of a service provider, they'll tell me I need it sooner than is necessary.

May. 02 2012 11:25 AM

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