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S19 E13: Mini Split, Butcher Block

Richard explains how a mini split unit is installed; Jenn explains how to identify Japanese maple trees and how to incorporate them in a landscape design; then Nathan installs a butcher block countertop.

Previous episode: S19 E12 | Next episode: S19 E14

In this episode:

Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey explains the purpose of a mini split ductless air conditioner and the process of getting one installed. Richard begins by explaining the basic principle of all cooling mechanisms; that heat will always transfer to cold, no matter what direction. He explains that inside any air conditioner there are two components: the evaporator and the condenser.

Using a window A/C unit, he demonstrates that warm room air is drawn in by a fan and gets blown across a cold evaporating coil. The heat in the refrigerant then gets sent out, through a compressor, to a condenser, which gets really hot. That really hot air then gets dumped outside. A mini split takes the two components found in a window A/C and splits them apart. The evaporator stays inside the building and the condenser is placed outside. They are connected through refrigerant lines that move captured heat to the desired location. In the summer, heat is extracted from inside the house and dumped outside. In the winter, heat is scavenged from the outside and pushed into the house.

Installing a mini split ductless system is not a DIY job, it should be done by a qualified HVAC contractor. Richard and the pros demonstrate how the unit should be installed. Every mini split needs a location to mount the unit, access to electrical connections, and a location for a condenser outside. The house is in an urban environment with not a lot of yard space, so a wall bracket will mount the condenser to the side of the house to save space.

The inside unit will be mounted on a dining room wall that is opposite of a closet, therefore the line sets can be hidden in the wall. Electrical, refrigerant, and condensate lines will be run through the unit. New mini splits can be controlled by a remote or a smartphone. A mini split can be costly, but having one installed is definitely worth it. A unit like the one installed can cut HVAC bills by nearly 25 percent and deliver efficient heating and cooling year-round.

Landscape contractor Jenn Nawada shares some facts about her favorite plant, the Japanese Maple. Also known as an acer palmatum, Japanese Maples are beautiful, ornamental, deciduous trees that come in a variety of colors and shapes. They enjoy the partial shade and grow in zones 5-8. Jenn explains that once these trees are matured, which can be about 10 to 15 years, they should be pruned every few years, usually in the summer or middle of winter. She then demonstrates the three-cut method for pruning branches. Jenn also shares some of the best ways to use Japanese Maples in a landscape design. With little-to-no maintenance, Japanese Maples are the perfect way to add character to your landscape.

The Ask This Old House team share more Home Inspection Nightmares; including a roof vent with no hole in it, a horrifying outlet that’s been extended further out of the wall with nails, and most horrifyingly of all, two 2x4”s masquerading as posts in a basement that have completely warped and are on the verge of collapse.

Carpenter Nathan Gilbert helps out a couple who want to replace their laminate kitchen countertops with butcher block. Butcher block is made from slices of wood that are all glued together into thick slabs, made to withstand heavy daily use. They can be made from nearly any wood, but Nathan chose maple as this is most popular for butcher block counters because it is hard and durable. Then, Nathan demonstrates how to apply a finish to the butcher block.

Butcher block cannot be left unfinished as it will stain very easily. The only finish Nathan uses on butcher block is mineral oil—a food-safe option. It will take about 2-3 layers of finish to start and after that, it needs a layer about once a month. Butcher block countertops will give your kitchen a unique, rustic feel while making for a budget-friendly option.


How to Install a Wall-Mounted Mini-Split

Plumbing and heating expert, Richard Trethewey explains the purpose of a mini split ductless air conditioner and the process of getting one installed.

Where to find it?

Richard installed a 12,000 BTU SEER Ductless Mini Split Heat Pump System, which is manufactured by LG.

Installing a mini split is an involved process, so Richard recruited the help of Boston Standard Plumbing for the installation.


All About Japanese Maples

Landscape contractor Jenn Nawada explains how to identify Japanese maple trees and how to incorporate them into a landscape design.

Where to find it?

Jenn discussed a variety of Japanese maple trees, which can be found at most nurseries.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by Stonegate Gardens.


Home Inspection Nightmares | Roof Vent Without a Vent

Richard Trethewey, Heath Eastman, and Tom Silva share more Home Inspection Nightmares with Kevin O’Connor.

Where to find it?

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).


How to Install a Butcher Block Countertop

Carpenter Nathan Gilbert helps a couple replace their laminate countertop with butcher block. Then, he demonstrates how to apply a mineral oil finish to it.

Where to find it?

Nathan installed Unfinished Maple Butcher Block Countertop, which is manufactured by Hardwood Reflections. He ordered an 8’ and 4’ section.

To cut the butcher block to size, Nathan used a TS 55 circular track saw, which is manufactured by Festool.

To secure the two sections together, Nathan used Gorilla wood glue and Zipbolt UT Joint Connectors.

In the segment in the Barn after the project, Nathan demonstrated how to finish butcher block using Food Grade Cutting Board Oil, which is manufactured by Howard Products.

Original Air Date: Jan 31, 2021 Season 19; Ep.13 23:42


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