Ask This Old House

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Season 4 Show Descriptions

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Episode #426
Installing a mini-split air conditioning system, what is it?, de-thatching a lawn… more
Episode #425
Cutting ceramic and stone tile, installing a sump pump … more
Episode #424
Replacing an old dishwasher, what is it?, sharpening a wood chisel, using lawn spreaders… more
Episode #423
Replacing an interior "hollow-core" door with a new "solid-core" door, repairing a leaky kitchen faucet… more
Episode #422
Repairing stripped threads on a cast-iron radiator, fixing a grading problem, what is it?, stabilizing a wobbly newel post, refinishing an old cast-iron bathtub… more
Episode #421
Installing an instantaneous water heater, planting trees to save energy, installing cellulose insulation … more
Episode #420
Installing a granite driveway marker, what is it, repairing a hot water radiator system … more
Episode #419
Building a custom radiator cover, installing a steam humidifier in a forced-air heating system … more
Episode #418
Transplanting a white spruce tree, what is it?, extending a staircase handrail … more
Episode #417
Repairing a residential well, repairing a hole in vinyl siding … more
Episode #416
Choosing and using hammers, repairing a pressure-assisted toilet, repairing a plastered wall … more
Episode #415
Installing a low cost in-ground sprinkler system, what is it?, pouring a concrete footing for a deck … more
Episode #414
Installing a radon mitigation system, pruning an apple tree for fruit production… more
Episode #413
Installing a new vinyl floor, what is it?, preventing frozen pipes… more
Episode #412
Washing windows like a pro, what is it?, flushing an electric water heater… more
Episode #411
Snowthrowers, what is it?, where to find it… more
Episode #410
Pruning an overgrown privet hedge, installing a new basement laundry sink … more
Episode #409
Viewer tips, re-shingling a garage roof using asphalt-fiberglass shingles… more
Episode #408
Circular saw 101, what is it?, installing a new outdoor faucet using PEX, cabling an oak tree to prevent splitting… more
Episode #407
Removing and preventing moss, algae and lichen from a roof, what is it?, repairing a leaky water valve, planting shade-tolerant ground cover under a European Beech tree … more
Episode #406
Building a raised garden bed with landscape timbers, clearing a bathtub drain. … more
Episode #405
Caring for a rose bush, how to steady a wobbly toilet, plugging a basement water leak using hydraulic cement.… more
Episode #404
Repairing a flat wheelbarrow tire, repairing an aluminum rain gutter, viewer tips, installing a thermal expansion tank … more
Episode #403
Installing an under-sink water filter, planting a drought-resistant tree.… more
Episode #402

Original Air Date: Week of October 13, 2005

General contractor Tom Silva quiets a homeowner's squeaky stairs and replaces a broken baluster. Then Tom, along with plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscaping contractor Roger Cook, and host Kevin O'Connor ask, "What is it?" Then, Richard helps a homeowner prevent a damaging flood by installing an automatic shut-off valve for her washing machine.

Quieting creaky stairs
Tom quiets a creaky old staircase by inserting wooden shims between the risers and treads where they attach to the stringers beneath. He secures the shims using polyurethane glue and trim screws, hiding the heads of each screw with wood putty and stain to match the color of the staircase. To repair the broken baluster, Tom uses a self-made jig to hold the two pieces in place while he drills holes into each. For this, he uses a plunge router with a collar and straight-cutting bit. He then connects the two broken pieces with a length of wooden dowel and glue. Finally, Tom reattaches the repaired baluster using finish nails.

Where to Find It: Plunge router
Hitachi Koki Co., Ltd.

Polyurethane glue: The Gorilla Glue Company

Trim screws, finish nails and wooden dowels are available at your local home center.

Static cling solution
Roger showed a set of rubber balls used to soften clothes and keep them from sticking together in the dryer due to static cling.

Where to Find It: Dryer rubberballs
Nellie's Dryerballs by Batten Industries®

Installing an electric shut-off valve for a washing machine
Richard installs an electric shut-off valve that's specially designed for washing machines. The valve takes the water pressure off of the machine's hoses when it's not in use, thereby preventing the hoses from bursting. Richard begins by closing the water shut-offs and removing the hoses. He then connects the new valve to the shut-offs using CPVC pipe and fittings. He then secures the valve to the wall using hollow wall anchors and screws. He then reattaches the hoses, opens the shut-off valves, and plugs the power cord into a nearby receptacle. Finally, Richard places a leak sensor underneath the machine that will cause the valve to close in the event the machine itself springs a leak during a wash cycle.

Where to Find It: Automatic shutoff valve
Valve: Model #A2C-M1
Retro-fit installation kit: Model KA2-BD
Manufacturer: Watts Regulator Company
Episode #401
Repairing a mortared stone walkway, patching an oak floor… more