The Gurus of How-To Clean Up

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Cars piled on top of each other at the entrance to a garage on South Willliam Street in Lower Manhattan October 31, 2012 in New York as the city begins to clean up after Hurricane Sandy. Cars piled on top of each other at the entrance to a garage on South Willliam Street in Lower Manhattan October 31, 2012 in New York as the city begins to clean up after Hurricane Sandy. (STAN HONDA/AFP/Getty Images)

The Gurus of How-To, Al Ubell and Larry Ubell, answer questions and share their advice on how to repair and maintain your home and how to clean up after Sandy.

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

Comments [9]

Karen from Staten Island, NY

Staten Island: (house built 1928)
H. Sandy knocked tree onto roof-it broke thru to inside. About 3 garbage bags worth of Vermiculite sifted thru tree hole into bedroom. I'm getting Vermiculite tested for asbestos.
Bedroom has a pile right on stereo, less dust as you get away from the pile, but dusty all over.

Would love advice for handling Vermiculite WITH or WITHOUT asbestos, specifically - How to clean bedding? clothing? electronics? Walking down through rest of the house? Safety equipment? Handling instructions?

Should I have Vermiculite abated if lab finds NO asbestos?
Vermiculite bag in attic says 100% vermiculite - Grace Co.

Nov. 14 2012 01:59 PM
Claudia Carr from SOHO

This is a rather odd/almost silly problem. My upstairs neighbor in a five story building in SOHO has flower pots/planters on her window sills.(I love flowers too but...) When she waters her plants the water leaks down the side of the building and causes streaking on my large single pane windows below. I am not certain if the pots are legal(I think they are dangerous) or if there is anything she can do to prevent this streaking from happening. She has also placed bricks on a metal balcony(like a fire escape)which I maintain causes corrosion as the air does not circulate. The paint underneath(which I can see) is peeling and the bricks block the light to the windows below. Any comments/suggestions would be much appreciated. Thank you.

Nov. 14 2012 01:44 PM
Adam from New Jersey

After living in the cold for 10 days without power, I want to install a back-up for my gas boiler (steam). A neighbor suggested I attach a marine 12v battery to an Inverter and run an extension cord to my furnace. Is this advisable as an emergency back-up?

Nov. 14 2012 01:42 PM
Miriam from Teaneck, NJ

Our basement was waterlogged in previous storms (not this one). We have since put in a sump pump with a batter backup. However, we had to rip up the carpeting and are reluctant to recarpet. The linoleum tiles under the carpeting was also damaged so we pulled that up. We have been told that there is a high likelihood that the glue residue is asbestos-based, so scraping and painting and throw rugs is not feasible. What do we do with the concrete floor? We need the space to use as play/work space for our daughters (8,10,13).

Nov. 14 2012 01:42 PM
Susan Schenker from Greenwich Village

I survived living in Greenwich Village in a pre-war building during the storm, but now I have a few questions?

How does my toilet work? Why does dumping some water into the toilet make it 'flush' when the water runs out?
What is a landline? Why do some phones work and some don't?
How is water stored/delivered to apartment buildings?
Why was my cell phone so screwy

Can someone write a book with all these answers? "Storm Survival for Dummies" perhaps! :)


Nov. 14 2012 01:34 PM
phoebe from bushwick

I would like to know how to keep my apartment COOL during the winter, we can't turn our radiators off without that horrible clanking sound ALL NIGHT. We have to keep all our windows open and fans on just to manage the blasting heat all winter.

Nov. 14 2012 01:33 PM
Carol from Bronx, NY

I live in an apartment and replaced my radiators and want to go back to the old fashioned cast iron, where can I get or purchase one of these in New York City..

Nov. 14 2012 01:32 PM
Brian from Jackson Heights

Regarding bathtub and tile reglazing:

When we purchased our pre-war co-op in 2009, the bathtub had recently been reglazed. When the caulk between the tub and the wall tile started to mildew after a couple years, I decided to recaulk the area. Of course I promptly ruined the edges of the glaze when scraping out the old caulk.

Was this just a poor quality reglazing job, and should we have it reglazed again? If so, is it possible to reglaze the tub and the surrounding tile so that caulk isn't even needed? Perhaps it's best to just replace the tub entirely.



Nov. 14 2012 12:37 PM
Stuart from manhattan

We own a weekend home in Seaside Park. When I was allowed back to the house last Friday for 90 minutes, I found no structural damage or evidence of flooding. There was no electricity or gas service, and the phones were out (there's no estimate of when they will be restored). The town instructed us to turn off all the circuit breakers, which I did. The town also had shut off the water (apparently they can do this at the meter) and we were instructed to open the valves and empty the hot water heater (ours is in the basement). I opened the valves in the sinks and bathtub, but nothing came out. Shouldn't there have been some residual water in the pipes? I don't know how to empty the hot water heater, and there certainly wasn't enough time do accomplish this task. If there's a deep freeze before the gas service comes back to heat my house, am I going to have a problem?

Nov. 14 2012 12:30 PM

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