The Gurus of How-To

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Alvin and Larry Ubell, the Gurus of How-To, answer your questions about home repair. Call 212-433-9692 with your questions, or leave a comment below. The Ubells' Accurate Building Inspectors Website.

Comments [16]

Beata Okurowska from East Stroudsburg, PA

My house is 9 years old, build on a rocky slope. We have a constant problem with cracking of the walls and cellings ( which we keep repairing with no permanent success )and the nails are popping out of the walls. Tha house has very high humidity( no couse found) Does the problem mentioned above has anything to do with humidity or for example with a fundation of the building?

Mar. 10 2010 01:50 PM
alison from Manhattan

Couple of things
Rarely get cold water out of my cold water tap in kitchen even if I run it for hours! alswyas warm! live in a 21 fl coop - and on the 21st floor.

When claiming the tax deduction for home improvement for the coop - replacement of windows - can this be retroactive?? Like can it still be taken if was done 4/ 5 yrs ago??

Mar. 10 2010 01:47 PM
mike from yonkers

i live in a co -op for the last 25 plus years.
2 years ago we were assessed for an encapsulation of the roof.
we have had had the same management company since the conversion.
shouldn't the building manger have been inspecting the roof at least twice a year. and having maintenance performed to correct the waterproofing. I hear there were holes you could stick your hand in on the elevator room.
what type of reports of inspections should a management company maintain as far as building inspections?
the roof is flat and has a full size door access.

Mar. 10 2010 01:39 PM
Eve from Upper West Side

PS to Comment #5 RE the faucets with metallic-tasting water:

I am on the 10th floor of a prewar apartment building.


Mar. 10 2010 01:37 PM
John from Manhattan

Answer to question: Commutator

Mar. 10 2010 01:35 PM
Hal from Crown Heights


Mar. 10 2010 01:35 PM
Tyler from NYC

is it a capacitor?

Mar. 10 2010 01:32 PM
Rob from Highland Park, NJ

My water heater is over 12 years old. When is the time to replace and do the new "green" high efficiency on demand units really live up to the marketing associated with them?

Mar. 10 2010 01:29 PM
the truth! from BKNY

Why does the hot water heater click so loudly when it turns on! Is it going to blow up? Scares the woo haa out of me every time this happens!

Mar. 10 2010 01:29 PM
Michael Randall from East Village

We live in an apt, with a stove that has been replaced within the last 2 years. Recently our CO2 detector has started going off whenever we use the stove or oven for more than 20-30 minutes. Never goes off when we're not using the stove. I know CO2 can be deadly. Any thoughts on what could be causing this? Thanks--


Mar. 10 2010 01:27 PM
Rick from Mamaroneck

We have bathroom faucet (hot water) that shudders violently whenever it's turned on... what can we do?



Mar. 10 2010 01:27 PM
Eve from Upper West Side

I replaced the faucets in my bathroom sink a year ago (including some new piping in the sink). The water still tastes very metallic unless I run it for at least 5 minutes, which is a terrible waste.

Is there any way to clean or flush out the pipes and faucets?


Mar. 10 2010 01:25 PM
jb from bronx

can you tile over existing tile in a bathroom?

Mar. 10 2010 12:33 PM
lionel from bklyn

how do i change a bedroom and bathroom door how do i measure make sure it closes etc thanks

Mar. 10 2010 12:31 PM
Kevin from Monmouth County, N.J.

I have an issue with two basement sump well discharge pipes which run from the basement sumpwells (primary and secondary)8.5 feet below grade upward to an adjoining crawlspace 1.5 feet below grade following a path perpendicular to and below (but not in contact with) the existing HVAC main outflow and return vents. The sump well discharge system has no vent stack. When the pumps cycle off, the discharge water must break the vacuum in the discharge pipe in order to flow by gravity out to the streetside outlet. The pipes vibrate at this time causing a sound shock wave to be amplified through the HVAC vents. This sounds like an audible drumbeat each time the pumps cycle off. Kindly advise your recommended fix. Thanks.

Mar. 10 2010 10:55 AM
Robert T. from Manhattan

Dear Alvin and Larry,

My apartment has a tankless toilet similar to the type more typically seen in office and public toilets. It functions reliably and takes up less space in a critically small bathroom.

What are the pros and cons of tankless toilets? Do they use more or less water than traditional models? Is the cost of equipment, installation, or maintenance an issue? And where does the water pressure come from?

I'll appreciate any answers you can provide in what is, I'm sure, a tankless task.

Mar. 10 2010 08:32 AM

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