Ask TOH | Disposers, Exterior Paint Stripping, Cutting Joists

Plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey helps a pair of homeowners with a jammed kitchen garbage disposer. Then Richard, along with host Kevin O'Connor, general contractor Tom Silva and landscaping contractor Roger Cook ask, "What is it?" Then, Kevin learns from a painting expert how to remove exterior paint from cedar siding. Back in the loft, Tom and Richard show Kevin the do's and don'ts of cutting holes and notches in joists.

Repairing a jammed garbage disposer

Richard helped a pair of homeowners with a garbage disposer that had been jammed for more than a year. He began by showing several methods for un-jamming a disposer, including using a factory-supplied allen wrench to turn the motor manually from the bottom of the disposer. He also showed how to use two wooden sticks to force the motor to turn from above. Finally, Richard used a professional wrench made specifically for un-jamming garbage disposers and, with a little muscle, managed to work it loose.

Where to find it?

Allen wrenches are available at all hardware stores and home centers. The special garbage disposer de-jamming wrench is available at most plumbing supply stores. A similar wrench is manufactured by:

General Tools

Technical assistance for this project was provided by:
4700 21st Street
Racine, WI 53406

What is it?

The guys try to guess the intended purpose of an unusual-looking product.

Where to find it?

Tom showed a device that uses 2x10 and 2x6 lumber to create a stable platform used for temporary staging while working on a house.

Manufacturer: T Brace, LLC
1350 Manufacturing Street #109
Dallas, TX 75207
(866) 454-4983

Stripping exterior paint

Painting contractor Rich O'Neil shows Kevin a few ways to remove old exterior paint from a house with cedar clapboard siding. Rich starts by showing how to remove paint using “pull scrapers.” He prefers a carbide-tipped scraper to a steel one because the carbide stays sharper longer. After scraping, Rich uses an electric “random orbit” sander connected to a vacuum to remove additional paint and “feather” the edges of any remaining paint. For removing old paint from trim, Rich showed a “molding scraper.” To make scraping trim easier, Rich showed two devices that generate heat, including a “heat gun” that softens paint and an “infrared” heater that breaks the bond between the paint and the wood.

Where to find it?

Paint scrapers are available at any hardware store, home center or paint supply store.

Infrared heaters are available at some specialty suppliers, including:

(703) 476-6222

The electric "random orbit" sander and vacuum that Rich used are manufactured by:
Festool USA
Tooltechnic Systems, LLC
400 N. Enterprise Blvd
Lebanon, IN 46052
(888) 337-8600

Drilling and notching in joists

Tom and Richard show Kevin some dos and don'ts of notching and drilling holes into joists for running plumbing pipes and electrical wires.

Where to find it?

If you're unsure of whether you can safely notch or drill into a joist, contact your local building department.

Infrared heaters are available at some specialty suppliers, including:

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