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S20 E1: Two-Prong Outlet, Deck Stair Railing

Richard discusses pipe soldering; Heath explains what two-prong receptacles are, why they’re no longer to code, and how to replace them; Nathan and Mauro build, install, and paint deck stair railings.

Previous episode: S19 E30 | Next episode: S20 E2

In this episode:

Richard Trethewey explains how to solder and what goes into the process. While PEX has grown in popularity, copper piping is still industry standard for residential plumbing.

Soldering is the process used to connect copper pipes together. Richard explains that soldering can be dangerous if not done carefully, but the average homeowner could do it themselves.

Then, Kevin O’Connor finds Heath Eastman in the workshop, ready to answer a common question they get all the time: what should a person do with their two-pronged outlet when so many cords have three prongs?

To answer this, Heath has to take a step back and clarify a few things. He goes through the correct terminology of an outlet, a receptacle, and a receptacle outlet. Afterward, Heath explains that the number of prongs has more to do with the wiring behind the receptacle than it does with the receptacle itself. Pre-1960s, homes used two conductors, but post-1960s, a third conductor was introduced for safety—the ground wire.

The ground wire will safely carry a stray, potentially dangerous, current away from the risk of causing a fire or electrocution. Heath then explains that replacing them can be costly if there is no ground present, as it will require rewiring the whole room or home. However, he shares another way to get a grounded, three-prong receptacle without rewiring—using a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Heath explains how the GFCI receptacle outlet works and gives some tips on how to install one.

Later, Nathan Gilbert and Mauro Henrique make a house call to help a homeowner build, install, and paint a deck stair railing. The stair entrance to the deck on the front side of the house has a railing, but the backyard entrance does not. This troubled the homeowner because she has a young son that loves to play in the backyard, and she’s worried he might fall off the steps. Nathan agrees, there are four risers and any stairs that have over two should have a railing for safety. Since there are railing throughout the rest of the deck, Nathan plans to build a replica railing to match so it looks like they were always there.

After he installs them, Mauro swings by to finish the job. He uses a sample of the paint from the existing railing and has it color matched at a nearby home center. He then demonstrates how to prime and paint the stairs.

Celebrating Craftsmanship: Soldering Basics

Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey explains some general soldering techniques and how to connect water piping.

Where to find it?

To solder, Richard explains that you need solder, flux, a blowtorch, a pipe cutter, and a pipe cleaning tool. Depending on the location of the work, protective items, such as a spray bottle of water or a flame shield, may also be needed. All of these items can be found at home centers and plumbing supply houses.

Understanding Two-Prong Outlets

Electrician Heath Eastman explains what two-prong receptacles are, why they’re no longer to code, and how to replace them.

Where to find it?

A room will have to be rewired if there isn’t a ground present. However, if you want to have a grounded, three-prong receptacle without rewiring, you can also use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) found at any home center.

How to Build a Deck Railing

Carpenter Nathan Gilbert builds and installs a railing for deck stairs that will match the original railing around the rest of the deck.

Where to find it?

Nathan built the deck stair railing out of fir decking in a variety of sizes, including 2x4”s for the top and bottom rails, 4x4”s for the posts, and 2x2”s for the balusters.

To cut the lumber to size, Nathan used a sliding compound miter saw, which is manufactured by DeWalt.

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

How to Paint Outdoor Railings

Painter Mauro Henrique paints an outdoor railing that Nathan just built to match the original railing around a homeowner’s deck.

Where to find it?

Mauro wanted to match the paint color of the existing deck, which he did by bringing a small sample of the existing paint to a local paint store. Most paint stores and home centers have machines that can scan a sample and generate a close color match to the paint.

The paint Mauro used for the railings was Behr Premium Plus Exterior Semi-Gloss paint and primer, though he also used a separate, oil-based primer for the base coat.

Original Air Date: Sep 30 2021 Season 20; Ep. 1 23:42

Products and Services from this Episode

  • Miter saw manufacturer: DeWalt
  • Expert assistance: William C. Gilbert Carpentry
  • Paint and primer manufacturer: Behr Premium Plus