Ask This Old House

Find more information on Ask This Old House episodes, or more information on products and services you saw on Ask This Old House.

Ask This Old House does not endorse any product or service mentioned within this Web site.

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


Original Air Date: Week of March 15, 2007

Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps a homeowner replace a mailbox that has been damaged by a snowplow. Then, general contractor Tom Silva heads to St. Louis to help a pair of homeowners repoint the failing mortar on their home's brick foundation.

Replacing a damaged mailbox post
Roger helped a homeowner whose mailbox had been hit several times by snowplows. They started by digging out and removing the old mailbox post. Roger then recommended replacing the old mailbox post with one made of cellular PVC, a rot-resistant type of plastic that looks and paints like wood. Before installing the new mailbox post, Roger determined that the new post should sit back farther from the street to prevent it from getting hit by snowplows again. The US Postal Service requires that the bottom of the new mailbox be 41-45 inches above the street so that mail carriers can access them easily from the windows of their delivery trucks. The face of the mailbox must also sit back from the street no more than 8 inches. Roger put the post in the hole and started backfilling, compacting the soil as he went. He also used a "post level" to make sure that the mailbox post was perfectly plumb. Next, the mailbox was attached to the post and the installation was complete.

Where to find it:
Roger installed a new mailbox post made of cellular PVC and a new steel mailbox. Both are manufactured and sold by:
Walpole WoodworkersHydronic Alternatives, Inc.
413-543-8733

PVC mailbox post (model "Dover FC")
Steel Mailbox (model "Strong Box")

Repointing Brickwork
Tom heads to St. Louis, where he meets a young couple with a brick foundation that has crumbling mortar joints. Tom discovers that there are several spots on the foundation where the mortar has deteriorated over the years. He begins by scraping out the old mortar in the horizontal joints (also called "bed joints") using a raking bar, making sure not to go deeper than 1 inch. For the vertical joints (or "head joints"), Tom gently uses a chisel to remove the old mortar. With the old mortar removed, Tom mixes up a batch of new mortar that is 6 parts medium-grained sand, 1 part hydrated lime, 1 part Portland cement and water. This type of mortar is known as "Type-N." Tom then removes a few loose bricks on the outside corner and reinstalls them with new mortar using a hand trowel and mortar board. Once the loose bricks are back in place, Tom begins packing the rest of the joints with mortar using a narrow knife "jointer." Tom presses the mortar into each of the joints and then smoothes them using a curved pointing tool. The curved joints will help shed water when it rains.

Where to Find It
Different types of mortar and masonry tools are available at your local home center or masonry supply yard.

Technical assistance provided by:
Bo Skaggs and Carl "Red" Tinker
B & K Tuckpointing & Caulking Co
6633 Olive Boulevard
Saint Louis, MO (Missouri) 63130-2645
314-721-0033

Other assistance was provided by:
The Masonry Institute of St. Louis
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
Clearing clogged drains, What is it?, Install Kitchen Cabinets… more
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