Ask This Old House

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Season 8 Show Descriptions

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Episode #826, Season 8 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a homeowner replace his leaky outdoor faucet… more
Episode #825, Season 8 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner repair a wobbly newel post at the bottom of a staircase… more
Episode #824, Season 8 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook visits a nature center to learn how to attract many different species of birds… more
Episode #823, Season 8 of TOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook shows a homeowner how to use and maintain string trimmers… more
Episode #822, Season 8 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps a homeowner revive a damaged lawn… more
Episode #821, Season 8 of ATOH
Host Kevin O'Connor and plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey head to Virginia to help a homeowner replace his old, electric water heater with a heat pump water heater that uses much less electricity… more
Episode #820, Season 8 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey and general contractor Tom Silva head to Detroit to help a homeowner remodel her kitchen with new appliances… more
Episode #819, Season 8 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner replace the broken sash locks on his vinyl windows… more
Episode #818, Season 8 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a pair of homeowners in Houston, Texas install crown molding in their bedroom using an innovative fastening system… more
Episode #817, Season 8 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey heads to Tampa, Florida to help a homeowner cool off his garage workshop with a ductless air conditioning system… more
Episode #816, Season 8 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps a homeowner conserve water by installing an innovative rainwater collection system… more
Episode #815, Season 8 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a homeowner update the look of her bathroom by installing a new vanity cabinet, countertop, and sink… more
Episode #814, Season 8 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner dress up an old fireplace by installing a new mantle and marble hearth… more
Episode #813, Season 8 of ATOH
Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey heads to Tampa, Florida to help two homeowners repair their broken water softener… more
Episode #812, Season 8 of ATOH
ask this old house episode eight hundred twelve of season eight

Original Air Date: Week of 12/24/09

Landscaping contractor Roger Cook helps a pair of homeowners improve the appearance of an unsightly concrete retaining wall with wooden lattice and climbing vines. Then Roger, along with plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, general contractor Tom Silva, and host Kevin O'Connor ask, "What is it?" Next, up in the loft, Tom shows Kevin how to flash a newly-installed window properly. Then, Richard helps a homeowner quiet a noisy PVC plumbing vent in her attic.

Covering a concrete wall with climbing vines
Roger helped the homeowners improve the appearance of a very large and unattractive concrete block retaining wall by covering it with climbing vines. First, he mounted several 4'x6' trellis panels to the wall using masonry screws. Next, he planted the vines and tied them to the trellis using jute, a natural fiber that won't harm the plant over time. Finally, he covered the garden bed with mulch and the project was complete.

Where to find it?
Roger planted several types of climbing vines to cover a large concrete wall.

Supplier: Mahoney's Garden Center
242 Cambridge St.
Winchester, MA 01890
781-729-5900

Roger attached 4'x6' wooden trellis to a concrete block wall.

Manufacturer: Universal Garden Products (model #103565)
800-598-9663

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

Where to find it?
Roger showed a tool used to easily pull brush and invasive plants out of the ground by their roots.

BrushGrubber
Manufacturer: BAC Industries
952-945-9058

Flashing the top of a window
Up in the loft, Tom showed Kevin some different ways to make and install "Z-flashing" around the top of a window. This piece of flashing prevents water from getting behind the top of the window, which can lead to rot inside the wall. Aluminum Z-flashing is available off-the-shelf in several sizes, but often a special size is needed. In those cases, Tom likes to fabricate his own flashing using aluminum coil stock or lead. To bend the aluminum flashing, Tom uses a sheet metal "brake." Professional sheet metal brakes are generally expensive, so Tom showed Kevin how to make one out of 2x lumber and screws. He also showed how to make Z-flashing without any brake at all using lead, which is malleable and can be formed by hand.

Sheet metal brakes, aluminum Z-flashing, aluminum coil stock and lead flashing is available at most home centers and lumberyards.

Quieting a noisy PVC drain vent
Richard helped a homeowner find and eliminate a noise that would occur any time she opened a faucet. The noise seemed to be coming from the ceiling, so Richard checked the attic and discovered that the noise was coming from a PVC plumbing vent pipe that went up through the roof. When the homeowner ran the faucet, the weight of the water in the drain pipes would cause the vent pipe in the attic to rub against the wood framing of the attic floor. To eliminate the noise, Richard simply removed the wood touching the vent pipe using a "keyhole saw."

Where to find it?
Keyhole saws are available at home centers and hardware stores.
Episode #811, Season 8 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O'Connor show how to build and install new laminate kitchen countertops… more
Episode #810, Season 8 of ATOH
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Episode #809, Season 8 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook visits Harvard University to learn about their new organic lawn-care program… more
Episode #808, Season 8 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva and host Kevin O'Connor build a basic picnic table using common framing lumber… more
Episode #807, Season 8 of ATOH
This episode is all about saving energy at home… more
Episode #806, Season 8 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook joins plant expert Carrie Kelly at a nursery to learn about container gardening.… more
Episode #805, Season 8 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a pair of homeowners install a new siding glass door… more
Episode #803, Season 8 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook travels to Baltimore, where he helps transform a small urban backyard into a pleasant outdoor living space… more
Episode #802, Season 8 of ATOH
Host Kevin O'Connor teams up with an electrician to install a home intercom system. Then Kevin, along with… more
Episode #801, Season 8 of ATOH
Landscaping contractor Roger Cook kicks off our 8th season by helping a homeowner build a cozy campfire pit...… more
Episode #804, Season 8 of ATOH
General contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner install new aluminum gutters and downspouts. … more