The Gurus of How-To Tackle Spring

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Pedestrians walk under blooming tree branches in SOHO. Pedestrians walk under blooming tree branches in SOHO. (Natalie Fertig/WNYC)

The Gurus of How-To, Al Ubell and Larry Ubell, answer questions and give advice on how to repair and maintain your home or apartment. They'll offer tips on keeping your furnace in fine form, making sure your pipes don't freeze, and making sure you're home is heated and insulated efficiently.

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


Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [19]

Gina D from White Plains, NY

I think the discussion about water saving toilets at the end of this segment should have been more positive. The Gurus' advice for better living at the end of the show was to "save energy, money and do it safely". Low flush toilets do just that. Less clean water needs to be treated and pumped to flush the toilet and less water is sent to the City's wastewater treatment plants for treatment and disposal all of which saves energy and money. Replacing toilets from the '80's and earlier would go a long way in achieving water and energy savings. NYC DEP's website states that "the largest percentage of water consumption in single family homes and multi-family dwellings is used for flushing toilets, followed closely by laundry, showering, and running faucets or taps." see

Apr. 15 2014 05:50 PM
Margaret from UWS Manhattan

Re. winter salt: Let's everyone start using sidewalk mats for winter snow and ice, and at least cut the amount of excess salt running off into waterways, cracking the pavement, and ruining footwear, by as much as possible.

Apr. 09 2014 04:18 PM
Robert Plautz from New York City

You just suggest that the person who is going to re-caulk her tub use her finger to smooth it out. I suggest that she use an ice cube. The caulk doesn't get messy on her fingers and the water from the ice cube melts and doesn't not adhere to the fresh caulk.

Apr. 09 2014 01:56 PM
morgan from fort greene


We just renovated our home 4 years ago and we have a new stove but the temperature of it never reaches above 400 which means the broil part never functions. What could we do. All the electrical lines and connection are new. It is a gas stove but the over is electric.

Apr. 09 2014 01:55 PM
alex from Harlem

I live in a condo. My front door needs soundproofing! How do a soundproof a hollow metal door? Thanks!

Apr. 09 2014 01:54 PM
Nino from Highland Lakes, NJ

The answer to the quiz: Opus listatum
Thank you!

Apr. 09 2014 01:50 PM
Linda P.

Speaking of fireplaces, we're in a rental where we've used our fireplace for over 20 years. The landlord has begun telling tenants that they can no longer use their fireplaces. We assume he just doesn't want to spend the money to maintain them. What are our rights on this issue?


Linda P.

Apr. 09 2014 01:50 PM
Jaime from Ellenville, NY

the woman with the chimney said she had a gas boiler. Can she can replace the lining with a high temp plastic one that will also handle air intake?

Apr. 09 2014 01:49 PM
emjayay from Brooklyn

It's not Anasazi anymore and hasn't been for decades. It's Ancestral Puebloans .

Apr. 09 2014 01:49 PM
Rob from Ridgewood, Queens

My Wife & I rent a railroad apt in ridgewood, Queens. After a winter with minimal heat in Feb & March, we're moving on and looking towards summer.
Having popped the breaker in our apt several times in the fall & winter, I know that we only have one 15 amp breaker for our whole apt, which every plug is running off of in parallel. If we run the AC, & try to run the Microwave, it will blow the breaker. our landlord just says, we can't run these two appliances. Is this something we can ask our landlord to fix, or are we stuck with having to turn off the AC if we want to run other appliances?

Apr. 09 2014 01:45 PM
Antonio from Bayside

Great pun Leonard! Ilmao...

Apr. 09 2014 01:42 PM
George from Brooklyn

Can you recommend a book for new home owner? I have a two family brick that was built around 1905, and I want to know what sort of maintenance I should be doing, and when.

Apr. 09 2014 01:34 PM
Gerry B from new york city

Al & Larry;
The front steps on our brownstone have deteriorated because of all the salt that was placed on them this past winter. What is the best process to repair the cracking and what is the best paint to use to finish the process? thanks.

Apr. 09 2014 01:33 PM
Steve from Westchester

Can you provide information on whether it is safe to remain in your home during the days that mold remediation work is going on, or if it depends on the work, how to get information to determine this?

Apr. 09 2014 01:31 PM
lucy from Brooklyn

I have a corner brick 4-story townhouse. All of outer brick is composed of Facebrick. Some of the bricks on the long corner wall are deteriorating slowly, flaking and eroding-especially on the two upper floors. The house is landmarked. I don't know how to approach the repair. Will the mason have to put up a full scaffold and chip out all the damaged brick and use historic facebrick to fill in with?

Apr. 09 2014 01:30 PM
Jake from Valhalla, NY

I live in an apartment that was constructed in a substandard fashion, and I was wondering why a landlord does not necessarily need to keep their apartment to code, while a new house must be inspected and ensured that it is to code before it is bought?

Apr. 09 2014 01:30 PM
Carol from Passaic from Passaic, NJ

My husband and I are expanding our living room and the city zoning officer said we need a variance for a setback of about 4 feet. Our architect would charge us an extra $750 to appear at the variance hearing. He said we could also handle it ourselves. Do you recommend we use the architect for this or should we represent ourselves and save the money? Thanks.

Apr. 09 2014 01:27 PM
Cupcake from Brooklyn

Armies of Ants. Soon to arrive will be ants, ants, and more ants. I have tried the small traps. Last year, it was Diatomaceous Earth. The house is an old brownstone with lots of entries for these small critters. Help!!!!

Apr. 09 2014 01:27 PM
John from Fanwood, NJ

My wife and I are renovating our kitchen. We painted the ceiling and the bead board wainscoting, and we bought new appliances. We're going to put a stone counter top in and we're thinking of using plastic bead board as a back-splash to continue the look. Do I need to use something heat resistant behind the stove, or can I continue the bead board. It's a slid-in style stove and we plan to mount a microwave/stove exhaust above it. I installed the wainscoting in the kitchen and in a guest bedroom.

Apr. 09 2014 12:53 PM

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