The Gurus of How-To Beat the Heat

Wednesday, July 11, 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!


Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [31]

Mary from jersey shore

I am considering the purchase of a solar attic fan, I currently have an electric fan which I plan to keep and use with the new solar fan until it decides to stop.
My question is - where to place the second fan in relation to the first ( it is center of the attic) - I would like to place the new fan about 10 feet away in the same line as the electric fan.
Second question is - what spec's should I look for in a fan - the housing - metal or plastic? aircraft or marine grade aluminum or stainless steel ? I live very near the water.

Thanks !!

Aug. 07 2012 01:51 PM
Zen from S Salem

Answer to Catherine about the cieling fan

Most fans that have a remote control, have the abillity to adjust the frequency. The cover plate of the fan where it mounts to the cieling needs to be lowered and there should be a small box in the wiring, the box will have numbers and black sliding knobs to adjust the frequency. Set the fan and then set the remote to the same frequency by opening it too.

Jul. 11 2012 02:10 PM
Zen from South Salem

Regarding the question of a window fan blowing in or out.
Dont listen to that mumbo jumbo Al and Larry just babbled. Plain and simple, during the day exhaust the room by blowing out, after dark when the temperature has dropped draw the cooler outside air in. Just be sure not to close the door to the room you are trying to cool and plenty of air will flow regardles of double hung or single hung windows.

Jul. 11 2012 02:04 PM
Laura from UWS

I'd love to see answers to all the questions posted here.
Maybe the Ubells need to come back more often?
Many thanks.

Jul. 11 2012 01:58 PM
gaby from jackson heights

can one change the cooling fluid in a aircondition? My AC doesnt seem to cool anymore. thankyou

Jul. 11 2012 01:56 PM
Ian in Brooklyn from Brooklyn

We live in a building that will not allow us to put an air conditioner in the wijdow, but they have sleeves in the wall. Our AC unit(s) backleak water into the apt with the ac in the sleeve. How can we get it to drain outside short of drilling holes in the sleeve and placing a bucket under the drilled holes

Jul. 11 2012 01:51 PM
Diane from Manhattan

A question: what is your opinion of "windowless" air conditioners? I hate having a unit in the window and hauling it in and out every year.
Thanks! love you guys!

Jul. 11 2012 01:49 PM

Can you give suggestions about getting rid of fruit flies? I have vinegar traps, put bleach down my drains, and spray them with dishwashing liquid mixture. I don't have any fruit or other food out and I cleaned my garbage can with bleach wipes. Still have tons of fruit flies!

Jul. 11 2012 01:48 PM
Nina from Jackson Heights

Thank you so much for addressing the ceiling fan remote frequency issue! Until today, we also thought we had a ghost who liked to turn on our living room ceiling fan every evening. My husband can sleep soundly now knowing that our apartment is not haunted.

Jul. 11 2012 01:45 PM

I have a Question.
I have a dryer vent that shoots air to the ground. This vent is below a window where I have a window air conditioner. Does this pose a challenge to my air conditioner to run harder while air flowing the dryer.

Jul. 11 2012 01:41 PM
MJ from Brooklyn

Speaking of air conditioners...what about air quality? I have a neighbor who smokes a very pungent substance. The odor comes into my apartment everyday and is very unpleasant. I've heard mixed things about air purifiers for this sort of problem. What would you suggest?

Jul. 11 2012 01:39 PM
Eli from Edison, NJ

I want to open my windows at night to cool down my house.

If I put fans in the windows, should I blow the cooler OUTSIDE air IN or the hotter INSIDE air OUT?

Jul. 11 2012 01:39 PM
Gary from Port Washington NY

My basement stays very cool in the summer. I dehumidifier it to remove water from the basement. What is the effect of removing moisture out of the air, will it make it cooler or warmer?

In regards to your cats, they originally come from warm climates so they can withstand heat according to my Vet.

Here is an interesting article from Slate called "Let them see you sweat" on keeping cool.

Jul. 11 2012 01:38 PM
Robert Havlena from Queens

My question is not heat related but it's making me sweat - NYC Dept of Transportation requires replacing my front sidewalk due to unevenness. I'm given a chioce to hire a contractor or have the city do it. Do you recommend the city do the repair?

Jul. 11 2012 01:36 PM
Larry from Fair Lawn NJ

I have 2 ac window units that are over 20 years old. What kind of basic care do they need to keep going as long as possible.

Jul. 11 2012 01:36 PM
Annoyed in Westchester from Upstate

I am sorry but this is the most rambling, dysfuntional show on public radio. There is always so much wasted time dealing with these super-sized egos.

Jul. 11 2012 01:36 PM

My wife & I own a townhouse in brooklyn. The front is brownstone but the sides and back are brick. We have an english ivy that grows all over the brick sides, and it seems to help keep the house cool. Some people have told us that the ivy will damage the mortar over time. Others have said it's no problem. What do you think?

Jul. 11 2012 01:35 PM
Orin from Brooklyn

Hello, what is your opinion of whole house fan? Will they help to reduce the need for air conditioner use?

Jul. 11 2012 01:35 PM
Dave B in Briarcliff

The cutout is called a birds mouth...

Jul. 11 2012 01:34 PM
Victor from Ramsey, NJ

Speaking of AC and humidity. Are there thermostats for regulating the humidity also? In other words starting the AC based on the comfort level, not only temperature.

Jul. 11 2012 01:34 PM
Henry from Katonah

I put my air conditioners in my windows a week or two ago. They are between 5 and 17 years old. I have washed the filters.
One of them seems not to be cooling. The room temperature is not going down and when I hold my hand in front of it, it does not feel as cool as the others.
What kind of servicing might it need?
When would it be cheaper ( long term ) to buy a new one?

Jul. 11 2012 01:33 PM
Francis from NYC

Wow, I built a Tesla coil too! I won the 9th grade science fair (which was 35 years ago)

Jul. 11 2012 01:33 PM
Ann from upper Manhattan

Happy Birthday, Mr. Ubell!

So...i made a little mess trying to quiet my squeaky floors with talcum powder. This is probably because the baby powder i used is actually made of corn starch (and "fragrance"), as the label informed me, after i'd sprinkled quite a lot of it on a section of floor....

First question, then, is Where would one acquire actual talcum powder, please?

Also, could you go over the method one should use? How much to use, how to work it into the cracks, how long this should take, etc.

Big THANKS for any help you can provide (and please don't make TOO much fun of me!)

Jul. 11 2012 01:32 PM
Bear from Ocean Beach from Ocean Beach Fire Island

We had a hail storm in Fire Island Sunday July 1st. The fins on my outdoor AC condenser units have many dents/bashes from the hail. I have not been able to straighten them (w an AC comb). Do I need to be concerned about the dented fins?

Jul. 11 2012 01:32 PM

Question for the Gurus.
I would like your guest's opinion on stand alone air-conditioners vs. the regular ones.
Thank you.

Jul. 11 2012 01:32 PM
Shane from Crown Heights, Brooklyn

My wife and I are worried about the lead that's likely in the paint and pipes leading into the parlor floor of the brownstone in which we live (rent) and our planned baby.

Abatement seems impossible as it's expensive; plus with a month-to-month lease the landlord might choose to retaliate and boot us out for alerting the DoB to the lead situation. But more so, abatement tends to kick up this lead and therefore, if not done correctly, could exacerbate the lead problem.

We'd rather not move, but it seems our options to protect our baby are: To move, or to paint with encapsulating paint, but and use a really good vacuum and hope for the best?

Your advice is greatly appreciated.


Jul. 11 2012 01:31 PM
Jack from Highland Park NJ

Can you ask the Ubells what's the difference between a ceiling fan rotating clockwise or counter-clockwise? There's a switch on my ceiling fans that controls this. I don't know what the effect is.

Jul. 11 2012 01:31 PM

Jul. 11 2012 01:30 PM
MichaelB from Morningside Heights

I've had a "whole house" window fan from Sears for over 35 years. It has 3 speeds in and 3 speeds blowing out, and a thermostat. It's GREAT, especially when the temps cool considerably at night.

Years ago, my parents had a similar large window fan made by Hunter.

Nowadays alas, no one seems to manufacture or market such an efficient item, just when we really need to cut energy consumption!

Jul. 11 2012 01:30 PM
sandra from the bronx

What's the difference between an AC and a dehumidifier?
Is there a unit that does both equally well? Which uses less energy?

Jul. 11 2012 01:02 PM
Catherine from Harlem

Question for the Gurus:
I live in an apartment and have a ceiling fan in my living room operated via a remote control. There is someone in the building next door to me whose remote control is apparently on the same frequency as my ceiling fan's and as a result my fan's light goes on, speeds up, slows down, all without my intent. I thought I had a ghost until someone told my about the remote frequency issue. What can be done?

Jul. 11 2012 12:52 PM

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