Ask This Old House

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Season 6 Show Descriptions

Showing results for "Season 6"
Scan the episodes below and select "more" to get information on products or services you saw on that episode.

Episode #626
Rebuilding a toilet tank, Lawn Watering, Building a simple bookcase… more
Episode #625
Installing a water pressure reducing valve, Choosing the best types of grass seed, What is it?, Installing crown molding on kitchen cabinets… more
Episode #624
Replacing broken tile, Cutting ceramic and stone tile, Installing glass tile on a kitchen backsplash… more
Episode #623
Overseeding a lawn using a slice seeder, Viewer tip, Preparing a home for sale, Finding and fixing a mysterious plumbing leak … more
Episode #622

Original Air Date: Week of February 28, 2008

Landscaping contractor Roger Cook replaces a set of rotten wooden stairs with new steps made of granite. Back in the loft, host Kevin O’Connor shows general contractor Tom Silva the latest technology for deadbolt locks. Afterward, Richard travels to Raleigh, North Carolina to help a homeowner replace the leaky polybutylene pipes throughout his house.

Installing granite steps

Roger helped a homeowner replace a set of rotting, wooden steps with steps made of solid granite. With the old wooden steps removed, Roger prepared a base for the granite steps by digging a hole deep enough to get below a layer of clay soil, which does not drain well. With all the clay soil removed, Roger filled the hole with " drainage rock and compacted it to prevent the steps from settling. To compact the stone, Roger used a rented "jumping jack" machine. Next, Roger covered the stone with a layer of landscape fabric and applied stone dust over it. With the stone dust compacted, Roger used a compact utility loader to move the first of two granite steps into place. While laying the first step in place, Roger was careful to make sure it was pitched slightly so that water would run away from the house. Roger filled the void behind the bottom step with more " stone and installed granite "cheeks" on both sides to contain the stone. Finally, Roger laid the second step into place, checked it for level and proper pitch, and the installation was complete.

Where to find it?

Roger used a "jumping jack" machine to compact the 3/4" crushed stone. The machine was rented from:

AA Rental Center
101 North Beacon St
Watertown, MA 02472
(617) 923-8905

Roger also used a "compact track loader" to move the heavy granite steps. This machine was rented from:

Bobcat of Boston
20 Concord Street
North Reading, Massachusetts 01864
(978) 664-3727

Granite steps are available at masonry yards and some garden centers. The steps installed by Roger were purchased from:

Cavicchio Greenhouses, Inc.
110 Codjer Lane and 294 Lincoln Rd.
Sudbury, MA 01776
(978) 443-7177

Choosing “Keyless” Deadbolts

Up in the loft, Tom and Kevin look at several new types of deadbolts. First, Kevin shows a deadbolt that runs off a 9-volt battery and is operated with a programmable keypad. Next, he shows another electronic lock that recognizes a person's fingerprint. Kevin then shows a deadbolt that can be re-keyed without hiring a locksmith. Finally, he shows a deadbolt that requires a key to unlock it but not to lock it. Instead, the deadbolt is engaged by twisting the outside of the lock itself.

Where to find it?

The battery-powered deadbolt with programmable keypad is manufactured by:

Schlage Lock Co.]
2119 E Kansas City Rd]
Olathe, KS 66051]

The fingerprint scanning lock (called "SmartScan") and the re-keyable lock (called "SmartKey") are manufactured by:
Kwikset Corporation
Consumer Service
19701 DaVinci
Lake Forest, CA 92610

The deadbolt that can be locked without a key is manufactured by Turner Lock. It is available from many online vendors.

Replacing polybutylene water piping

Richard visited a homeowner in Raleigh, North Carolina with a problem that has plagued millions of homes in North America, faulty polybutylene piping. Polybutylene was a type of plastic water supply pipe used from the 1970's until the early 1990's. Many of these piping systems have failed, causing catastrophic leaks. Richard was assisted by a local plumbing contractor, who carefully cut into several interior walls and the kitchen ceiling to access to old the pipe and replace it with new CPVC. CVPC is another type of plastic pipe, but has proven to be very reliable over several decades of use.

Where to find it?

Richard was helped by local plumbing contractor Jeff Falls, who specializes in removing and replacing polybutylene pipe:

Falls Plumbing
111 Keystone Dr.
Cary, NC 27513
Additional support was provided by:

City of Raleigh
Permits Division Main Office
One Exchange Plaza, Suite 404
Raleigh, NC 27601
(919) 516-2150
Episode #621
Installing an old full-mortise lockset into a new door, Installing a pellet stove, Non-Gasoline Lawn Mowers… more
Episode #620
Building a soccer goal with PVC pipe, Building stilts, Building a sandbox… more
Episode #619
Increasing attic insulation, Installing landscape lighting, Replacing an old kitchen faucet… more
Episode #618
Installing a Water Softener, Installing fiber-cement siding … more
Episode #617
Improving a lawn, What is it?, Water Supply Piping… more
Episode #616
Replacing a leaky skylight, What is it?, Repairing a 3-way light switch… more
Episode #615
The ATOH crew repairs a smelly dishwasher, transplants a rosebush, changes a circular saw blade, and plays another exciting round of What Is It?… more
Episode #614
Installing thermostatic radiator valves on hydronic radiators, What is it?, Making a refrigerator fit into an opening that is too small, Viewer tip… more
Episode #613
Installing a vinyl fence, Installing an epoxy coating on a garage floor… more
Episode #612
Determining landscape grades, What is it?, Seeing inside walls, Repairing a bathtub drain that won't hold water… more
Episode #611
Improving front steps with bluestone, What is it?, Installing a propane kitchen stove… more
Episode #610
Diverting storm runoff to a "rain garden," What is it?, Refinishing a wood floor … more
Episode #609
Picking a Christmas tree, What is it?, Safety equipment, Caulking a leaky window… more
Episode #608
Improving a muddy backyard, Choosing space heaters, Preventing condensation in a bathroom fan… more
Episode #607
Installing replacement windows, Heating water more efficiency, Home energy audit… more
Episode #606
Removing a dangerous tree, What is it?, Installing interior door trim… more
Episode #605
Repairing a jammed garbage disposer, What is it?, Stripping exterior paint, Drilling and notching in joists … more
Episode #604
Preventing floods, Removing and replacing foundation plants, What is it?, Fixing rotted wood with epoxy… more
Episode #603
Replacing a toilet flange, What is it?, Repairing cracked plaster, Viewer Tip… more
Episode #602
Carpentry squares, What is it?, Installing a patio using concrete bricks… more
Episode #601
Replacing a bathtub drain trap, What is it?, Repairing a cracked drywall ceiling… more