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S19 E26: Working from Home

Nathan builds a display case to store his grandfather’s U.S. flag, and Heath replaces a circuit breaker. Then, the team shares the ways their trades were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Previous episode: S19 E25 | Next episode: S19 E27

In this episode:

In this special episode of Ask This Old House, the team shares what they have been up to during the COVID-19 pandemic and completes a couple of projects they’ve been working on. Including carpenter Nathan Gilbert, who gave his home office an upgrade during the quarantine and is looking to add the finishing touch—a display case to store his grandfather’s American flag. The flag was hung over his grandfather’s casket after he passed away the year before. Like Nathan and his father, his grandfather was a Navy Seabee. Nathan was given the flag and wanted to build a display case to safely store it and thought the new office shelving would be a perfect place. Nathan demonstrates how to build a flag display case step by step in his father’s workshop.

Then, contractor Tom Silva shares his quarantine story of becoming a “TikToker” and how he dealt with the quarantine boredom, by creating fun videos on social media platforms. During the height of the pandemic, his daughter pushed him to get on Tik Tok, and together, they created some viral videos. He’s made a mix of funny and educational content with quick tips. Tom shares that reading the comments of how his videos brought smiles to people’s faces during such a dark time is helping him through the pandemic.

After, electrician Heath Eastman shares how his work was busier than ever during the pandemic. Being an electrician, he was deemed essential and never stopped working. His company got calls from hospitals, restaurants, and other businesses that needed to stay open and running during quarantine. Heath explains that in the past year, almost all of his attention has been on work and admits that some of his personal life has been forgotten about, including his own projects at home. Earlier in the pandemic, he installed a new USB receptacle in his kitchen, but he never got around to installing AFCI protection. Whenever a receptacle is replaced, its corresponding breaker in the panel needs to be upgraded to an AFCI breaker, and Heath demonstrates how this is done.

Later, the team shares how the pandemic affected each of their trades as a whole. They talk about the changes in their industries and the challenges they all faced. Landscape contractor Jenn Nawada shares that landscape trucks used color-coded tools assigned to each worker to limit cross-contamination. Mason Mark McCullough explains that all the trades faced shortages in materials from transportation and factories all getting hit by COVID. If a worker tested positive for the disease, it could cause shutdowns for two weeks, halting everything down the line of production. While more people wanted work done on their houses with all the time that they spent at home, lack of resources made it tough for the tradespeople to keep up with the work.


How to Build a Flag Display Case

Ask This Old House carpenter, Nathan Gilbert, shows the office he renovated during the quarantine and works on the finishing touch, a display case to store the U.S. flag that was presented to him at his grandfather’s funeral.

Where to find it?

Nathan built the flag display case out of 1x6” red oak boards and sheet glass which can be found at any home center.

To secure the boards together, Nathan used wood glue from Gorilla Glue and some pin nails with a Porter-Cable pin nailer.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by William C Gilbert Carpentry.


COVID-19 Story: Tommy on Tik Tok

Ask This Old House general contractor, Tom Silva shares his quarantine story of becoming a Tik Tok’er. Tommy shares how he dealt with the quarantine boredom, by creating fun videos on social media platforms.


How to Install an AFCI Circuit Breaker

Ask This Old House master electrician, Heath Eastman, wraps up an electrical project he started over a year ago by replacing the circuit breaker at his panel with one that is up to code.

Where to find it?

Any work that is done on an electrical panel should be tackled by licensed professionals only.

When replacing a circuit breaker, the circuit should be compatible with the manufacturer of the panel itself. In this case, Heath’s panel is manufactured by Siemens and the AFCI circuit breaker he installed is also manufactured by Siemens.


How the Building Trades were Impacted During COVID-19

The Ask This Old House team shares how the pandemic affected each of their trades. They talk about the changes in their industries and the challenges they all faced.

Original Air Date: June 6 2021 Season 19; Ep.26 23:42


Products and Services from this Episode

  • Wood glue manufacturer: Gorilla Glue
  • Pin nailer manufacturer: Porter-Cable
  • Expert assistance: William C Gilbert Carpentry
  • Electrical panel and circuit breaker manufacturer: Siemens