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S21 E1: Water Heater Autopsy, Composting

The Ask This Old House team talks about why they enjoy working together; Richard cuts open a failed water heater, and Jenn shares her love of educating kids about the outdoors. Then, she and Nathan build a compost bin.

Previous episode: S20 E39 | Next episode: S21 E2

In this episode:

The professional tradespeople who make up the beloved Ask This Old House crew get real about their relationships. When asked to describe each other in just one word, terms like “genuine,” “meticulous,” and “G.O.A.T.” abound. The team’s respect and admiration for one another are on full display, and we get a close look at what it’s like to work alongside some of the best tradespeople to ever work in television.

Next, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey takes host Kevin O’Connor for an inside look at a water heater at the end of its life. Richard explains to Kevin how most folks don’t think about their water heaters until it’s too late, so he cuts open the tank to show Kevin what occurs inside. From the missing sacrificial rod design to protect the tank to the sludge and sediment at the bottom, all of this water heater’s dirty secrets are uncovered.

Then we join landscape contractor Jenn Nawada as she explains why she enjoys teaching children. With a background as a camp counselor, an outdoor education instructor, and volunteering in youth centers, Jenn appreciates watching kids grow and learn, using the skills and information she taught them to figure things out. She enjoys teaching them that good things take time and that learning where things come from is a lesson in respect.

Finally, Jenn and carpenter Nathan Gilbert head to a local school to help them with a composting project. After meeting with the children, Nathan and Jenn build a large compost bin from cedar, providing the children the opportunity to fill their garden with rich, nutritious soil.


Why the Ask This Old House Team Love Each Other

Operating more like a family than a TV cast, the cast of Ask This Old House tells us what they really think of each other (and their answers are heartwarming).

Why This Water Heater Failed

Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey gives host Kevin O’Connor an inside look at why a water heater fails.

Why Jenn Loves Teaching Kids

Landscape contractor Jenn Nawada explains her passion for watching kids discover the outdoors.

How to Build a Classroom Compost Bin

Carpenter Nathan Gilbert and landscape contractor Jenn Nawada build a compost bin for an elementary school’s garden project.

Where to find it?

Jenn and Nathan toured Hosmer Elementary School in Watertown, MA, one of the first net-zero elementary schools in Massachusetts.

To build the compost bin, Nathan used cedar lumber in a variety of dimensions, including 2x6” for the slats and the front posts, 4x4” for the back posts, and 1x6” for the center slats. To secure everything in place, Nathan used a combination of exterior-grade brad nails and stainless steel screws.

Original Air Date: Sep 29, 2022, Season 44; Ep. 1 23:42