The Gurus of How-To

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

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

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


Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [20]

jane from fairfield, ct

these guys should have their own show, car talk style! <3

Oct. 11 2012 01:32 AM
Leo from Queens

hi Guys, I want to provide some input regarding the smell of gas in the woman's kitchen. IT is coming from the stove itself - I am a landlord and had a problem last year with a range from Sears where the stove was leaking a tiny amount of gas.
As you know, these new stoves/ranges are cheaply made (though not cheap in price!) and really have a lifespan of 3-4 years. Anything past 5 years has to be replaced!!

Oct. 10 2012 01:57 PM
Jamee from Flatbush

Please ask: What is a "safe" heat source to leave in a home that is unattended for a week or two at a time - i.e. not a space heater (for a cabin upstate that we have)

Oct. 10 2012 01:56 PM
Gregory from Park Slope

I have a repairperson in my house right now. They are replacing the ignitor in my broiler right now, because I was smelling gas when I was using it!

Oct. 10 2012 01:56 PM
SJ from brooklyn

I have used cork (with a barrier) for my basement floor - it's great - warms the room and cuts down on noise

Oct. 10 2012 01:55 PM
Jenny from Brooklyn

Just bought a small house and found water pooling the basement. Thinking about a sump pump, but what kind of professional can we call to find the source of the water? Engineer? Geologist?

Oct. 10 2012 01:43 PM
john from office

I googled the name to, but would never call it in. Thats not the Idea.

Oct. 10 2012 01:42 PM


Oct. 10 2012 01:41 PM
Sarah from Prospect heights

My neighbor's living room, which has an exposed brick wall has a cinder blocked-in window shape in it, which we don't understand because his wall is adjacent to the wall of the neighboring building. It's a 100+ year old tenement style apartment building and the unit is on the 4th (top) floor. The building next door is the same era so we don't know when a window would ever have been used. The bricks that make up the opening appear to be original and frame out a window shape but then the space is filled in with more modern cinderblocks. Thoughts on what purpose this might have served?

Oct. 10 2012 01:38 PM

answer to question
hand Adze

Oct. 10 2012 01:37 PM

draw blade

Oct. 10 2012 01:35 PM
rudi from queens

When the super turns off the hot water to repair a leak or something, there's a HUGE amount of rust (I hope it's only rust!) in the water. We're advised that this is "normal" and we should run the water until it runs clear. Last time it took hours to clear up, and clogged the outlet (which had been running okay), causing a flood. How can this be normal? Shouldn't he be flushing the lines once a year or something? I live in a midrise, about 45 units.

Oct. 10 2012 01:31 PM
Kate from Westchester

My parents live on the top floor of a pre-war building in Westchester - and the pipe burst in their apartment when the heat was turned on yesterday. They now need to pull off the built-in covers around all of the heat risers in their apartment to check the valves. My question is, is there an easy solution to covering the risers for the future so there is access to the valves without having to destroy the cover?

Oct. 10 2012 01:27 PM
cb from brooklyn

Does my small coop building need to have the trash chutes cleaned out?

Oct. 10 2012 01:26 PM
clark from NJ

I have a 1939 log cabin in the NJ mountains. It has a stone and mortar foundation and a dirt crawl space that runs between 24-8 inches in height.
I have hardwood floors with carpets but the cold transfers up from the crawl space.
I think insulation with a moisture barrier would be almost impossible to install due to piping, forced hot air ductwork and the lack of space to work.

Any suggestions?
Thank you

Oct. 10 2012 01:09 PM

I moved from a house with forced air heating into the one with steam heat.

Are there any differences on how to operate steam heat vs. forced air in order to conserve energy? I mean do I need to maintain steam in pipes so that extra energy is not spent on boiling water each time the heating runs.

Oct. 10 2012 01:05 PM
Beata from Pennsylvania

We can not determine what's the source of high humidity in our house build 10 years ago on a rocky fundation.Our windows are all covered with moisture throughout winter, the humidity reaches 60 % during summer time even though we keep our AC on and a dehumidifier constantly on in the basement.The house is supposed to have french drainage.How we can determine if it has been installed during the construction.What other sources of high humidity can be taken unto consideration except the obvious ones (showering, cooking) which are definitely not a source of it.Who can help us to find out and fix this problem instead of only dealing with symptoms of it.

Oct. 10 2012 01:00 PM
Tamsen from Brooklyn

We have a musty smell coming out of a hole in the floor and wall where pipes are situated in our apartment. There is no visible sign of mold or leaks. And we've been in the space below our apartment and there is no smell there. Is there a way to test the air at this hole to determine if there is hidden mold? As it happens to be right where the head of our bed we'd really like to get rid of it

Oct. 10 2012 12:04 PM
Eli from Edison, NJ

I have a “in-law suite” attached to the back of my house, with separate electric baseboard heat.

My in-laws don’t come too often so most of the time it is empty.

What temperature should I keep the rooms at to keep the water pipes in the bathroom from freezing?

Is it practical to shut off the water and drain the pipes?
(The water runs through the ceiling and down to the shower, toilet, and sink.)

Oct. 10 2012 09:34 AM
Lauren Plunkett from Asbury Park, NJ


My husband and I just had a new sump-pump and french drain put into our basement. Now we don't know what to do with the floors. Should we tile it, put hard wood in or maybe carpet tiles? Any advice is appreciated

Oct. 10 2012 08:44 AM

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