The Ubells Share Tips for Staying Cool in the Summer Heat

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

summer, beach, heat, suntanning (Stephen Nessen/WNYC)

Our gurus of how-to, Al Ubell and Larry Ubell, share their tips and shortcuts for staying cool as the temperature climbs this summer. If you have a question, you can answer questions and share advice about home repair.

Call 212-433-9692 with your questions or leave them in the comments below!


Al Ubell and Larry Ubell

Comments [20]

Julia Keen from New Jersey

Our 30 year old AC unit has melt & is DEAD. We have central air & gas furnace in our 1952's ranch. We are considering replacing both the AC and the furnace. We have 2 bids we are considering to replace both units. One contractor says that we don't have to vent the condensation into a sewage drain & the other says we do. What's true?
95% AFUE

Jul. 15 2014 12:55 PM
Tormented Tammy from Tuckahoe from Tuckahoe

Love your show! I called today but couldn’t get through to say that the tool to carry cement is called a hod. Also, to ask you to help with a hot water heating system problem. Some 18 moths ago, the low water cutoff valve was replaced. Thereafter, a low, vibrating noise began to come from the area of the burner. It makes all the adjacent pipes rattle as well. This seems to happen most often when the system has been dormant for a while – like first thing in the morning and the afternoon, when the house temp is set to go up. It has stopped happening again this year, now that it’s warm, though the burner is still operating for our hot water. A few pros have visited and say that they have to hear the noise in order to diagnose the problem. But the noise won’t cooperate while they’re here. Do you have any ideas what the problem could be? Thanks so much!

Jun. 11 2014 10:12 PM
pat from wayne nj

Have an issue with water coming into my bi-level during heavy rains. I am located approx. 2 blocks from one of the highest hills in town and no one else on my street is having the problem including homes that are lower than mine. We have put drains in the area but no success. I think it has something to do with the drain in the street. Any suggestions?

Jun. 11 2014 03:16 PM
Mairead $ Ted from Mineola, LI, NY

We have a red brick cape on Long Island. House built in the 1950's. The bricks on the front stoop have been hollowed out repeatedly by little sparrows. We had them replaced about five years ago and now they are all scooped out again. When we open the front door we see the birds fly off so we are sure of the culprits. We have asked at our local nurseries and also a few contractors and nobody has heard of birds doing this. Have you? What can we do to stop them?

Jun. 11 2014 02:14 PM
Tammy from New Jersey

I wanted to give a shout-out to the company that did waterproofing in our basement for us (we live in NJ as well and had a serious leaking issue every time there was significant rain). Their name is AAFKO. They were very reasonably priced, honest, and did a great job. We did the waterproofing 7 years ago and haven't had any leaking since - even during Hurricane Irene and some other very heavy rainstorms. When we were researching the issue, it seemed to us that the waterproofing industry is a magnet for scammers and we, being young, almost fell for guys who said we needed to spend approx. $20,000 to get the job done. Thankfully, we didn't and found AAFKO who was priced MUCH more reasonably.

Jun. 11 2014 01:56 PM
Bud from Stamford, CT

I have got quotes for an interior basement drain system to "prevent" water seepage.

One company has a slotted custom channel and another has one with holes.

Any comments on which one is the best?


Jun. 11 2014 01:50 PM
Parlan from UWS


Regarding the term 'hawk': Maybe this is something more appropriate for Patricia O'Conner, but when I heard this, my first thought was that when Hamlet said (Act II, scene 2), "When the wind is southerly, I know a hawk from a handsaw," he was not talking about the bird, as is normally thought, but he's comparing two tools. There was a method to his madness.

Jun. 11 2014 01:47 PM
Robert from Long Island

I have a problem with a permanent indoor light fixture. When I was removing a light bulb, the glass part broke off. If I turn off the circuit breaker for the fixture, can I try to remove the metal part of the bulb with pliers without killing myself? (I'll have to climb a ladder to do it.) or should I get a pro to do it?

Jun. 11 2014 01:45 PM
thomas from licity

my apt is on the top floor and so gets uncomfortably warm in summer as the heat rises throughout the building. the floors are even warm! Besides an air conditioner, what other ways can one keep the place cool.

Jun. 11 2014 01:45 PM
Joe from Brooklyn not New Jersey from Brooklyn, natch!

Could the gurus discuss using air filters drawing in fresh air from a window - air filters in general - and using furnace filter on a fan as a cheap air filter?

Jun. 11 2014 01:43 PM
msmith from nyc

Too good to let pass-when you were discussing mosquito control Larry said " know you spray the yard and put out the SALMONELLA candles..." it's citronella of course. ;) and no one cracked wise.

Jun. 11 2014 01:40 PM
Beata from East Stroudsburg, PA

How to clean vinyl siding stained with water and oil based wood stain?

Jun. 11 2014 01:33 PM
Peter from Rockland County

I have a bathroom exhaust fan vented to the attic in a recently purchased home. I know I need to have it vented out the roof, but don't know who to call to do the job. Roofer? HVAC specialist? General handyman?

Jun. 11 2014 01:32 PM
D from Westchester

I have window air conditioner units that drip on my neighbor's window sill below me. How can I divert or stop the water from my A/C so it doesn't drip on the sill below?

Jun. 11 2014 01:32 PM
Joanne Morse

The tool that a plasterer or stone mason uses is a hod.

Jun. 11 2014 01:31 PM
Cee from Brooklyn

I was just told I need to cut an opening in my roof deck fence, in order to have access to the back stairs in an emergency. But the door to the back stairway is always locked from the outside.

Is there some way I can look up this code?

Jun. 11 2014 01:30 PM
lk from fort greeen

Can't get through on the phone but the answer is "hawk".

Jun. 11 2014 01:28 PM
Ginger from Maplewood

What's your opinion about attic fans?

We have a big 4x4 foot attic ventilation fan, which seems to work well at drawing hot air out of the house.

And when we replaced our roof a few years ago, the roofer persuaded us to install one of those dome-shaped fans that stick out from the roof.

What do you think? Did we waste our money?

Jun. 11 2014 01:25 PM

How do you wipe off small drips of latex semi-gloss paint that has dried on wood floors?
Thank you!

Jun. 11 2014 01:25 PM
Carolyn Moskowitz from Brooklyn, NY

My husband and I are renovating the kitchen in our newly purchased coop apartment. I have a respiratory illness, so we will use an induction cooktop and electric wall oven instead of gas. The stove will be beside a window. We planned to install a highly efficient range hood under the cabinet, but were told it would be difficult to vent to the outside. I'd like our kitchen's air to be as healthy as possible, and I cook often. Any suggestions? Thanks.

Jun. 11 2014 01:14 PM

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