The Guru of How-To

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Al Ubell, one of our Gurus of How-To, answers your questions about home repair. Call 646-829-3985 with your questions or leave a comment.


Al Ubell

Comments [24]

Valerie from New Hyde Park, NY

My toilets don't have much force when flushed. We had new toilets installed which are supposed to have excellent suction, but it hasn't improved. We often have to flush twice -- wasting a lot of water.
Also, we sometimes hear the sound of flushing when no water is being used in the house. Could the two problems be connected?

Oct. 12 2011 01:57 PM

How would a renter soundproof an apartment cheaply?

Oct. 13 2010 01:52 PM
deb from brooklyn NY

what are important questions to ask/things to look for when buying a house built in eh late 1800's?

Oct. 13 2010 01:52 PM
Toiny Jannetti from Downtown NYC

I had a plastic (heavy duty fiberglas) shower stall installed. when I originally place it on the flooring, it sat flat and did not squeak. After the plumber handyman installed it, it now squeaks when it is stood on. Is there something that can be inserted into the underlayer that will help alleviate this problem?

Oct. 13 2010 01:47 PM
John from Fanwood

I have solid plastic gutter guards on my Cape Cod house. Birds get in through the ends of the gutters and clog them. Is there a cap, or can I make something to keep the birds out?

Oct. 13 2010 01:46 PM
Bernard Jacks from Central NJ

Regarding what Al said earlier today (10/13) about how long it takes to heat or cool a house, is there some rule of thumb that applies to a two-story house, (about 2000 sq. ft.) as to turning down the heat or raising the A/C setting when leaving the house for a number of hours? Specifically, when does it pay to do that, considering the whole house, floors, walls, furniture, etc., has to be re-heated or cooled when you return? Thanks.

Oct. 13 2010 01:41 PM
Ken Braidi from New Jersey

For the woman whose basement lights all went out: Tell her to check if that circuit area includes an eletrical outlet that includes a red "breaker" button which may have been triggered. She may just have to push the tripped button back in to get her whole circuit working again, without an electrician's help. (From one who learned the hard way.)

Oct. 13 2010 01:40 PM
John from South Amboy, NJ

Great segment. Any advice for removing fresh roof tar from sidewalk? I'm trying mineral spirits and rags. It's slow going at best.

Oct. 13 2010 01:38 PM
Jean Serro

We cover the outside & inside of our in-the-wall A/C to cut down on drafts. You mentioned on today's show, covering the outside is not a good idea. If we don't cover the outside, it feels like a window is open. Any suggestions on how to cut down on the draft and not create a circulation problem in the A/C?

Oct. 13 2010 01:37 PM
Ken Carr from NYC

They are called Spanish Tiles

Oct. 13 2010 01:37 PM
Louis from Brooklyn

There is a minimal amount of mold in the basement of a home we are interested in purchasing. Can we use a mold test kit to determine if it's toxic? Or do we need to suck it up and send in an environmental engineer?

Oct. 13 2010 01:36 PM
RLewis from the Bowery


Oct. 13 2010 01:35 PM
ann from Manhattan

Recently I had my bathroom wall tiles replaced. I've noticed a hairline crack through five tiles. Three are adjoining. Why would this happen?
Is replacing them difficult?

Oct. 13 2010 01:35 PM
StJohn Mckay from The Bronx

Is the tile 'ogee'? Tried calling but can't get through

Oct. 13 2010 01:34 PM
blue Davis from red hook

Is the answer pan tile.
Calling from red hook ny
love the show

Oct. 13 2010 01:34 PM
Joel from Westchester

Is it a good idea to keep shrubbery from touching the outer (brick) wall of a home? Why?

Oct. 13 2010 01:33 PM
StJohn Mckay from The Bronx

Is the tile 'ogee'? Tried calling but can't get through

Oct. 13 2010 01:33 PM
Amy Heller from Harrington Park, NJ

Saltillo tile?

Oct. 13 2010 01:32 PM
Kathie Newton from Brooklyn

We live on the bottom two floors of a brownstone. There is a shower-room on the bottom floor where the drain has a nasty smell. Now I notice the sink in the kitchen upstairs also has this odor. Does the drain need to be irrigated or can bleach or enzyme solution do eliminate the odor?

Oct. 13 2010 01:32 PM
John from NJ

Great advice... but who knew Gilbert Gottfried knew so much about home repair?

Oct. 13 2010 01:32 PM
Phil Henshaw from way uptown

It's good to point out the real suffering of other parts of the country,.. really. It's also important to understand why we are not suffering in the same way. The irrational housing boom benefited the bankers in the end, while it crippled the home owners, everywhere but where the bankers live...

It's like a Ponzi scheme, someone always gets away with an extra share of the real wealth when the great bubble of illusory wealth collapses... That's us New Yorkers and other financial center communities, the home of the Ponzi winners.

Oct. 13 2010 01:31 PM

We had a home inspector miss something big when we bought our first home a few months ago. It was something that in retrospect should have been obvious. We had to repair the problem, but the inspector refuses to even refund our inspection fee despite evidence that he was negligent.

How do people proceed in these situations?

Oct. 13 2010 01:29 PM
Lisa from Nyack

I have a loose tile on the floor of my shower. How do I reattach this properly? I assume that if I only grout around the tile, it will not hold.

Oct. 13 2010 01:25 PM
TK from North Bergen, NJ

I have a fairly old stove and need to use a lighter in order to turn my stove burners on. Is there a way to fix the stove burners so they turn on when knob is set to "light" mode?

Oct. 13 2010 12:01 PM

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