Ask This Old House

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Season 5 Show Descriptions

Showing results for "Season 5"
Scan the episodes below and select "more" to get information on products or services you saw on that episode.

Episode #526
Building a Workbench and What Is It?… more
Episode #525
Lawn Mowing and Edging Basics, What is it?, Repairing and maintaining electric water heaters, Repairing a broken stair tread … more
Episode #524
Replacing a damaged mailbox post,Repointing Brickwork … more
Episode #523
Installing a new radiator/towel bar warmer, What is it?, Controlling crabgrass … more
Episode #522
Replacing a corroded shut-off valve with a "compression" fitting, What is it?, Selecting and planting "climbing" roses … more
Episode #521
Installing composite decking with hidden fasteners, Quieting a noisy steam radiator… more
Episode #520
Replacing a Shub, What is it?, Installing a roof-mounted attic fan… more
Episode #519
Refinishing cast-iron radiators, Installing a standby electric generator… more
Episode #518
Patching a damaged vinyl floor, What is it?, Repairing a leaking in-ground sprinkler system… more
Episode #517
Shopping for and installing wall-to-wall carpet, What is it?, Table saw safety… more
Episode #516
Removing an overgrown Juniper bush, Coiling an extension cord, Replacing a pop-up assembly in a pedestal sink … more
Episode #515


Original Air Date: Week of January 11, 2007

Up in the loft, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows host Kevin O'Connor different methods for clearing clogged drains. Then Richard and Kevin, along with landscaping contractor Roger Cook and general contractor Tom Silva ask, "What is it?" Afterward, Tom helps a homeowner install new kitchen cabinets.

Clearing clogged drains
Richard shows Kevin several ways to clear a clogged drain. Chemical drain cleaners may clear a clog, but if they don't, the chemicals can actually sit inside a drainpipe for too long, causing damage to the pipe. Richard shows "enzyme" cleaners that work by eating and scouring the entire inside wall of the pipe. He also shows several "mechanical" means for clearing a clog, including plungers. Richard recommends actually "pulling" the clog free with a plunger rather than "pushing" it down further, which can make matters worse. He then shows a closet auger, a special snake for clearing clogged toilets that will not scratch the porcelain bowl. Regular hand snakes can be used in other drains like lavatory and kitchen sinks. For clogs in the "main" drainpipe, Richard shows an electric drain cleaner that uses a motor and cutter-heads which cut through clogs like tree roots that may have penetrated the pipe outside of the house.

Where to Find It
Drain-cleaning chemicals, enzyme cleaners, plungers, closet augers, snakes and electric drain machines are all available at your local home center.

The electric drain snake was rented at The Home Depot

What is it?
The guys try to guess the intended purpose of an unusual-looking tool.

Where to Find It
Tom showed a device used when pointing mortar in brickwork.

QLT Barrel Jointer (model #BJ850) manufactured by: Marshalltown Trowel Company
641-753-5999

Installing kitchen cabinets
Tom helps a homeowner install a set of new kitchen cabinets. Before installing them, Tom takes all of the cabinets out of the boxes to inspect them. He finds a cracked panel in one cabinet, and also finds that the microwave cabinet is the wrong size. He tells the homeowner he will have to contact the cabinet company to get replacements. Together, they begin installing the rest of the cabinets by marking on the wall where they will be placed. Tom takes the total width of all the cabinets and makes a plumb line on the wall so he can reference from right to left. He then marks the height of each cabinet on the wall. Tom then determines where the studs are located and marks their locations on the back of the wall cabinets. He then drills holes in the backs of the cabinets for screws that will fasten the cabinets into the studs. A cabinet jack helps hold the upper cabinets into position while he fastens them to the wall. He also uses a level to check the alignment of the cabinets. Tom prefers "deck" screws for fastening because they are stronger than drywall screws. For the cabinet over the stove, Tom cuts a hole to accept the vent from the range hood. He then fastens it to the wall the same way as the first cabinet, but also screws the cabinets to each other for extra strength. Tom then uses a long level to make sure the faces of the cabinets are flush with each other. They're not, so Tom installs shims behind them to bring them into alignment. He then fastens the lower cabinets together before installing them onto the wall. He also transfers the locations for the electrical outlets to the cabinet backs and cuts them out with a jigsaw. Tom also uses shims to make sure the spaces between each of the lower cabinets are equal. Because the finished floor has not yet been installed, Tom installs filler strips on the floor to bring the cabinets up to the appropriate height. Tom then shims and screws the cabinets to the wall, again using a level to make sure the cabinet faces are flush with each other. Finally, He then installs the refrigerator cabinet and the installation is complete.

Where to Find It
The kitchen cabinets that Tom installed were purchased by the homeowner at the Boston Building Materials Resource Center.

Building Materials Resource Center
617-442-8917

All of the tools and materials necessary for this project, including cabinet jacks, deck screws, levels, and shims, can be found at your local home center.
Episode #514
Prune a willow tree, fix a hot-water heater… more
Episode #513
Mulching, Sash Balancers … more
Episode #512
Shower Valve, Recycling Batteries … more
Episode #511
Cedar Clapboards, Chainsaw Etiquette … more
Episode #510
Kitchen Backsplash, Installing Sod … more
Episode #509
Child safety, What is It?, Installing a sump pump… more
Episode #508
Maintaining stone countertops, what is it?, Installing a chain link fence… more
Episode #507
Home Energy Audit, what is it?, Removing a toilet seat with corroded bolts… more
Episode #506
Rebuilding a small exterior deck and stairs.… more
Episode #505
Planting flower bulbs in fall, making straight rip cuts with a circular saw, what is it?… more
Episode #504
Installing garage storage cabinets, What is it?, Installing a ceiling fan… more
Episode #503
Installing a new shower base, Installing a rain barrel… more
Episode #502
Replacing a clogged faucet aerator, Selecting houseplants, Quieting a squeaky subfloor under carpet… more
Episode #501
Repairing a bathroom door, planting a bamboo privacy screen, what is it?… more