Ask This Old House

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Season 7 Show Descriptions

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Episode #726, Season 7 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a homeowner repair a leaking PVC drain trap underneath his kitchen sink...… more
Episode #725, Season 7 of ATOH
Host Kevin O'Connor and an electrician help a homeowner install a new ventilation fan in her bathroom...… more
Episode #724, Season 7 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner install a new garage door...… more
Episode #723, Season 7 of ATOH
Ask This Old House Episode seven hundred twenty-three of season seven

Original Air Date: Week of 03/05/09

General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner prepare his concrete basement walls for finished wallboard. Then, up in the loft, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey shows host Kevin O'Connor how to tie a few basic knots. Next, Tom, Kevin and Richard, along with landscaping contractor Roger Cook ask, "What is it?" Then, Roger and certified arborist Matt Foti demonstrate how to care for storm-damaged trees.

Preparing basement walls for wallboard

Tom helped a homeowner prepare the bare concrete walls in his basement for wallboard. The homeowner wanted to convert his unfinished basement into living space. The first step was to plug the holes in the concrete walls that might let water seep in from outside. To do this, Tom mixed up some hydraulic cement and forced it into the holes. Hydraulic cement expands as it cures, forming a watertight seal. Next, Tom used 2-inch thick foam insulating board to insulate the basement. He applied it to the concrete walls using a special foamboard adhesive. With the foam insulation installed, Tom fastened a wooden "grid" of 1x3 spruce boards over the insulation using masonry "spring spikes." This grid allows wallboard to be fastened with regular drywall screws, and gives an electrician a place to snake wires and install electric boxes for outlets and light switches.

Where to find it?

Tom used hydraulic cement to plug the holes in the concrete foundation:

Quikrete
800-282-5828

Tom used two-inch thick rigid foam insulation on the walls:

Owens Corning Insulation
800-438-7465

Tom used masonry "spring spikes" to attach the 1x3 lumber to the concrete wall.

Manufacturer: Powers Fasteners
SPIKE ® Pre-Expanded Anchor (also called a "spring spike" or "rawl spike")
(914) 235-6300

How to tie four basic knots

Up in the loft, Richard shows Kevin how to tie four simple knots. They are a "square knot," a "slipped square knot," a "fisherman's knot," and a "bowline."

Where to find it?

There are many books available with detailed instructions on tying knots, including:

Handbook of Knots (Expanded Edition)
Author: Des Pawson
DK Publishing, Inc.

What is it?

The guys try to guess the intended purpose of an unusual-looking product.

Where to find it?

Kevin showed several small, battery-powered lights containing magnets that stick to metal surfaces and provide lighting in hard-to-light places.

Striker Hand Tools
Magnetic LED Light
200 Overhill Drive, Suite C
Mooresville, NC 28117
704-658-9332

Repairing storm-damaged trees

Roger and arborist Matt Foti visit an area with trees damaged by a recent ice storm. First, Matt recommended leaving any large trees with damage to a professional tree service. For smaller trees, Matt showed how to repair them using a few simple tools. First, he showed a dogwood with a large structural split near the bottom of the tree. To fix it, Matt used a steel cable to pull the two split "leads" together, which will allow the tree to heal on its own. To firmly hold the split leads together, Matt installed two stainless steel carriage bolts with nuts and washers. Next, Matt and Roger repaired a damaged birch tree with a large branch that had almost completely broken off, causing extensive damage to the tree's bark. To repair the tree, Matt first removed the broken limb. Next, he carefully cut out the damaged bark using a chisel and a mallet, creating a shape that will allow water to run off and avoid rotting out the tree. This technique is called "bark tracing."

Where to find it?

Matt Foti, certified arborist
Matthew R. Foti Landscape & Tree Services
30 Fairbanks Rd
Lexington, MA 02421
781-861-0505
Episode #722, Season 7 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps install a new type of "zoning" control for her forced-air heating and cooling system… more
Episode #721, Season 7 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a homeowner install a new "dual flush" water-saving toilet… more
Episode #720, Season 7 of ATOH
Our annual "kids" episode features family-friendly projects that parents and kids can build together!… more
Episode #719, Season 7 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a homeowner quiet his banging pipes by installing a water hammer shock suppressor...… more
Episode #718, Season 7 of ATOH
Landscape contractor Roger Cook shows a homeowner how to prune her neglected crabapple tree properly.… more
Episode #717, Season 7 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner clean, stain and seal his mahogany backyard deck… more
Episode #716, Season 7 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a homeowner convert a claw foot bathtub into a shower… more
Episode #715, Season 7 of ATOH
This special episode is dedicated to making the most out of your existing kitchen cabinets.… more
Episode #714, Season 7 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps a homeowner in Charleston, South Carolina fix a sagging wooden gate...… more
Episode #713, Season 7 of ATOH
Plumbing & heating expert Richard Trethewey and host Kevin O'Connor replace an old tank-type water heater with a new, energy-efficient "tankless" unit...… more
Episode #712, Season 7 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps a pair of homeowners break apart and remove a large boulder...… more
Episode #711, Season 7 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner repair a very dangerous deck...… more
Episode #710, Season 7 of ATOH
Plumbing & heating expert Richard Trethewey heads to Indianapolis...… more
Episode #709, Season 7 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps a pair of homeowners build a retaining wall using pressure-treated timbers...… more
Episode #708, Season 7 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner prepare a shower enclosure for tile using a new type of waterproofing system...… more
Episode #707, Season 7 of ATOH
This episode has many tips for making your home more energy efficient...… more
Episode #706, Season 7 of ATOH
Up in the loft, general contractor Tom Silva shows host Kevin O’Connor how to repair damaged laminate countertops...… more
Episode #705, Season 7 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps a homeowner transplant a giant Rhododendron bush...… more
Episode #704, Season 7 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps two homeowners repair the damage done to their lawn...… more
Episode #703, Season 7 of ATOH
Host Kevin O'Connor travels to Nashville, where he helps a pair of homeowners brighten up their kitchen. Then...… more
Episode #702, Season 7 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook shows a pair of homeowners how to transplant a large, mature tree to their front yard. Then Roger, along with...… more
Episode #701, Season 7 of ATOH
ATOH kicks off with Tom Silva preventing a garage roof from collapsing by replacing a rotting support post, Then Tom, along with...… more