Al and Larry Ubell, Gurus of How-To

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The guru of how-to Larry Ubell answers your home repair questions! Call us at 212-433-9692 or leave a comment below.


Larry Ubell

Comments [15]

G. Garcia from Flatlands, Brooklyn, NY

This year for the first time we experienced flooding in our basement due to all the rain we have experienced this year. We have contacted several contractors to give estimates for waterproofing our basement. One contractor says the best way involves digging around the foundation of the house and sealing it. Another says the best way is to redirect the water out of the basement using a combination of waterproofing membrane, perimeter channels to capture the water which is then pumped out with a sump pump. I find this all confusing and don't know which method to use? Is one superior to the other? Are there other viable methods available? What is your recommendation? Thanks.

Jun. 14 2014 10:24 PM
Colin from Portland, OR

Thanks for bringing up Carbon Monoxide poisoning on your show. According to the CDC CO poisoning is the most common accidental poisoning in the United States. The CDC estimates that CO kills 500 people and injures 20,000 annually. This is a very important issue for me as 4 members of my family were fatally poisoned from carbon monoxide.

Feb. 09 2011 01:51 PM
david franco from Wilton, CT

I have numerous exterior and interior (bathroom, basement) doors that seem to swell and become hard or impossible to close in summer and close too easily (they are loose or rattle or lock won't catch) in winter. These are wooden doors, 55 years old, and one new fiberglass exterior door, hung one year ago.

Sometimes, however, the doors may swell in winter and shrink in summer.

What's going on and what can I do?

Thank you.

Dec. 08 2010 02:02 PM
Harriet Siegel from Eastchester, NY

I have black mold growing on the ceiling (9' high)and upper walls of a small bathroom in my apartment. There is a window, but no fan. I have used clorox to clean it periodically, but it soon returns, especially in the summer. The walls are lined with a slightly textured liner and painted over. The mold seems to have permeated the liner and paint and cannot be completely removed with the clorox. What can I do to resolve this problem and does the liner and plaster underneath have to be removed? Is this a health risk? Thank-you.

Mar. 12 2008 04:52 PM
Kate from UWS

When we bought our apt. in 2004, we replaced the wood floor boards in half the space because the old floor was a splintery ruin. Now - only three years 1/2 later - much of the new floor is a patchwork of splotches and scrapes and spots where the surface appears to be coming off, leaving ugly dark places underneath. How could this be happening, after such a short time? Does the original floorer have any responsibility for fixing? CAN it be fixed? (Ie, is it cheap wood, or was it just a bad polyur. job?)
Many thanks for your reply.

Mar. 12 2008 01:57 PM
Tom Shulski from Mastic Beach, Long Island

My refrigerator leaks water. It does not have an ice maker. I found that it was tilted, so I adjusted one leg and thought I fixed the problem because it stopped for awhile. But, it has started again. I looked in front all the way at the bottom, but, did not see the evaporation pan. I guess it is in the rear.

Mar. 12 2008 01:55 PM
andrea saggese from 413 3 st, Brooklyn, NY

I own a brownstone in Park Slope. As you may know the brownstones are attached, separated only by a firewall. The next door building had a leak and the water seeped through to our side of the building. The tenant in second floor apartment has complained of an odor of dampness and was concerned about mold. We live on the first floor and we also smell an odor that I would describe as wet dirt. Do you think there could be mold? Also what can we do to eliminate the odor. Thank You

Mar. 12 2008 01:53 PM
Krishna from Brooklyn

I am a Brooklyn renter in a great, but poorly maintained pre-war building. I just found out that a bar is moving into the store front below my apartment. I used to be able to hear the tenants talking at normal level, but now with the noise level that comes with a bar I'm not sure if we'll be able to stay in this apartment.

The bar-owner says he'll try to work with me. I'm hoping you can tell me a great (but economically-modest) way to insulate sound. I don't want to move!

Thank you.

Mar. 12 2008 01:46 PM
Amy from Manhattan

My bedroom ceiling leaked rain water in a big puddle on my brand new mattress (Gold Bond Futon). The water went all the way through my mattress to the other side. I used bleach to clean the stains (looked a little rusty) on both sides. I've since encased it in a waterproof mattress cover. Do I need to worry about mold or mildew (The mattress was left uncovered for a couple of weeks to dry out). Also, how can I get it cleaned in a non-toxic way? Thank you!

Mar. 12 2008 01:35 PM
Ryan from Brooklyn, NY

I am wanting to strip bubbling, old white paint off of interior exposed brick and seal it so I can let the brick be it's beautiful self. How do I strip the brick and what should I use to seal it?

Mar. 12 2008 01:30 PM
glenn ligon from Brooklyn, NY

I have radiators that were spray painted silver by a contractor. when the heat in the building came on the radiators off gas. is there a sealant I can use on them to kill the smell or do they have to be stripped?

Mar. 12 2008 01:25 PM
Alden from Soho

One of the radiators in my apartment makes much more noise than the others when it releases pressure from the valve. It also has a different type of valve; the cylinder shaped kind with a smaller button/cylinder on the top, instead of the bullet shaped valve that the other two radiators have.

If I replace the cylindrical valve with a bullet shaped valve, will the pressure release noises stop?


Mar. 12 2008 01:20 PM
Roxanne from Staten Island

My house was built in 1905. The hardwood floor in my first floor bay window flexes when it's walked on; it gets more noticeable near the wall. It seems as if there are no joists or subfloor under there. The basement does not extend under the bay, so I can't see what's underneath. I thought maybe trouble with the foundation although there aren't any cracks on the walls to indicate any other issue. What can I do?

Mar. 12 2008 12:16 PM
Sean McNall from Mineola, NY

I have an unheated, but insulated and glassed in sunroom that I am remodeling on the cheap. I don't want to spend $5000 on tiling the floor, but carpeting it would be impractical. Can I lay vinyl sheet? or will the fluctuating temperature in the room damage the adhesive?

Sean McNall

Mar. 12 2008 09:48 AM
Chris from NJ

I just bought a house with a deck that is perhaps 15 yrs old. It is still in good shape but the finish is fading and I'm wondering how to best preserve it.
Is it true that urethane is a bad idea for preserving a deck? If so, what do you recommend treating it with and how long can I expect a deck to last?

Mar. 12 2008 09:15 AM

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