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

Original Air Date: Week of February 25, 2006

This special episode is all about making your home more energy-efficient. Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey heads to Atlanta where he helps a homeowner install an instantaneous water heater to save on rising fuel costs. Then, up in the loft, landscaping contractor Roger Cook shows how proper planting of deciduous and evergreen trees can help reduce the costs of heating and cooling your house. Then, general contractor Tom Silva helps a pair of homeowners insulate the walls of their antique Victorian using blown-in cellulose insulation. Back in the loft, Tom demonstrates how to add additional fiberglass insulation to an attic.

Installing an instantaneous water heater
Richard visits a homeowner in Atlanta whose natural gas bills have increased dramatically in recent months. Richard suggests installing an instantaneous water heater. This type of unit does not have a storage tank and only burns gas when hot water is needed. Richard, with the help of a local contractor, begins the installation by determining where to locate the unit. This type of water heater is designed to mount on an exterior wall and vent combustion gases directly to the outside. Once the location is determined, the crew cuts a hole in the wall for the vent pipe. The unit is then bolted to the wall and the vent is connected. The crew then runs new gas and water pipes to the unit. Finally, the electrical connections are made and the installation is complete.

Where to Find It
Richard installed an instantaneous water heater manufactured by:
Rinnai Corp. (model#2532FFU)

Installation contractor:
Shumate Mechanical

Additional assistance provided by:
Fulton Plumbing, Heating & Air Conditioning

In the loft, Richard also showed an instantaneous water heater that uses a standing pilot light.
Bosch AquaStar (model#250SX)
Manufacturer: Bosch Water Heating

Planting trees to save energy
Roger shows Kevin how planting certain types of trees around a house can result in lower heating and cooling costs. Roger recommends planting a screen of evergreens on the north side of a house to prevent cold, winter winds from blowing against it. On the south side of the house, Roger recommends planting trees that will block the sun during the summer months and lose their leaves in the fall, allowing sunlight to warm the house in winter.

Where to Find It
More information on energy-saving landscaping can be found at the U.S. Department of Energy's website.

Additional energy saving tips can be found at:

Installing cellulose insulation
Tom helps a pair of homeowners who are worried about rising fuel costs and want to insulate the walls of their 1870 Mansard Victorian using blown-in cellulose. Tom begins by locating the studs inside an exterior wall and drills two holes in the center of a stud bay. One hole is about halfway up the wall and the other is near the top. These holes will accept a hose that is connected to an insulation-blowing machine. Tom inserts the hose into the lower hole and turns on the machine. After a few seconds of operation the machine starts to whine, indicating that the lower part of the stud bay is fully insulated. Tom then plugs the lower hole and inserts the hose into the upper hole. He then fills the upper part of the stud bay with cellulose using the same method. The process is repeated for each of the remaining stud bays.

Where to Find It
Insulation blowers can be rented at your local home center to tool rental center.

Tom's machine was manufactured by:
AccuOne Industries, Inc. (model#9218)

Additional assistance provided by:
Great Point, Inc.
Bob Hanks
P.O. Box 857
East Greenwich, RI 02818

More information on cellulose insulation can be found at the following web site:

Both cellulose and fiberglass insulation can be purchased at your local home center.
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
Quieting creaky stairs, static cling solution, and installing an electric shut-off valve for a washing machine … more
Episode #401
Repairing a mortared stone walkway, patching an oak floor… more