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S20 E13: Rot Repair, Heat Pumps

Watch as Mark shares the story of how he became a mason; Tom explains why wood rots on houses, how to prevent it, and how to repair it if it occurs; Ross explores heat pump technology.

Previous episode: S20 E12 | Next episode: S20 E14

In this episode:

Mason Mark McCullough tells us all about how he became a cast member of This Old House and Ask This Old House, as well as how he became a mason in the first place. Mark tells us that Tom Silva recommended him to the show, and after a few small parts, Mark was featured in an episode of Ask This Old House. The rest is history.

Mark’s story on how he started in the masonry trade is fascinating. He explains that he got his start in masonry as a teenager after his mother caught wind of some violent crime that occurred near his part-time job. She immediately called a family friend who worked as a mason and told him Mark would be on site the next day. Even after 20 years working with a mentor and many more years in the trade, Mark’s love and passion for brickwork, stonework, and masonry has never faded.

Next, we meet host Kevin O’Connor and general contractor Tom Silva to discuss identifying rotting wood and what to do about it. After discussing some of the key ways to keep wood from rotting, like flashing and avoiding ground contact, the two discuss the signs of wood rot.

Tom explains that the first sign is typically peeling paint, which indicates that water is getting behind the wood and causing rot. Then, Tom shows Kevin what carpenter ant damage looks like and the deterioration and punk (soft wood) that water damage causes. Finally, Tom shows Kevin that repair involves removing as much rotted wood as possible before using products designed to fill the damaged areas.

Last, we meet home technology expert Ross Tretheway to discuss the new age of home heat pumps in a Future House feature. After quickly explaining how a heat pump works, Ross takes us through the four different types: water to water, water to air, air to air, and air to water. He details how those systems work and how they pull warmth from the ground or environment around them. Ross even talks to his father, plumbing and heating expert Richard Tretheway, about how heat pumps evolved over the years.

Ross then takes us to a house in upstate NY to discuss heat pumps with an engineer who takes us even deeper into the subject. The two go over an air to water unit, discussing how it works, its size and capabilities, and the different components both inside the home and out. Ross and the engineer even discuss how this system is so advanced that it can heat water with outside temps below zero and even use that hot water to supply baseboards or heat coils in forced-air heating systems.


How Mark Became a Mason

Mason Mark McCullough tells us the story of how he got started in the trade he loves.


How to Identify and Repair Rotting Wood

General contractor Tom Silva takes host Kevin O’Connor through the causes of wood rot, how to avoid it, and what to do when it occurs.

Where to find it?

Tom recommends preventing rot from happening in the first place by ensuring windows and doors are correctly flashed, gutters are hung correctly, and water is being diverted away from the building. If a small amount of rot is detected, it’s possible to repair it to keep it from spreading. In the segment, Tom used a combination of wood filler and wood rot restorer manufactured by Bondo, a 3M product.

Tom’s other tools and materials to demonstrate repairing rot, including the putty knife and a palm sander, can be found at home centers.


Future House | Understanding Heat Pumps

Home technology expert Ross Tretheway explains everything you need to know about heat pumps.

Where to find it?

Ross explored four different types of heat pump systems: water-to-air, water-to-water, air-to-air, and air-to-water. These heat pumps can usually be sourced through a local HVAC technician or sales representative.

The air-to-water heat pump that Ross saw being installed in upstate New York was an Advantage Air-to-Water Heat Pump manufactured by Enertech.

Expert assistance with this segment was provided by The Radiant Store, Air & Water Source Group, LLC, B&D Manufacturing, Inc., Taco Comfort Solutions, Axiom Industries Limited, and Caleffi North America, Inc.

Original Air Date: Jan 6, 2022, Season 20; Ep. 13 23:42


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