♪♪ Kevin: On "Ask This Old House," our experts travel across the country to answer questions about your house.
♪♪ Today, Mark upgrades a home's curb appeal by installing a pea-stone walkway.
Neeru: I absolutely love it.
Kevin: Then Richard will share his top furnace maintenance tips.
♪♪ And Nathan heads down to the Lone Star State to help a Texas homeowner organize her shed.
♪♪ Kim: That's so nice.
Kevin: That's all coming up next on "Ask This Old House."
Mark: People are afraid of masonry only because it's heavy.
Once it's complete, it'll set up.
It's there forever.
So they're intimidated by that.
But it's all a misconception, as far as I'm concerned.
♪♪ Now go back down on that hammer.
Now, to get that little bit, don't be afraid to go up at it.
Summer: Go up?
Don't be afraid to drag it right into that previous brick.
Just like that.
Alright, that's it.
Don't be afraid of it.
"Don't be afraid" -- the reason I use that phrase is because I mean it.
Don't be afraid to give it a little muscle.
♪♪ Don't be afraid to turn your trowel and come -- Yes.
Go right under the mantel.
My hope is that everybody gets the gratification that I get out of masonry.
Betsy: To be honest, the reason why we haven't touched it in 15 years is that it just seemed so overwhelming to us.
Mark: Usually, people don't get dirty, and they hire other people to get dirty for them.
Oh, very good, Betsy.
You're a stonemason.
Betsy: It's like working with a puzzle.
Homeowners are usually afraid of using tools that they've never really used.
They've seen them maybe a couple times, but a trowel is very specific to a mason.
And slam it.
Just like that.
Spread it out a little.
A jointer is very specific to a mason.
[ Engine starts ] People are intimidated by a compactor, but it's a machine that basically runs itself.
All you have to do is guide it.
♪♪ People don't really understand that because it's heavy equipment, it's loud equipment, and they usually see a pretty big guy running the compactor.
But it's accessible with these big-box hardware stores.
We can go down and rent them.
I think the best thing for the job is going to be this jackhammer.
Mark: So why don't you grab it?
Have you ever used one before?
Anthony: No, I haven't.
It can be a little bit intimidating, but it's all things that people are capable of doing.
[ Machinery rumbling ] The task becomes easy with someone with the right mindset.
♪♪ They know they're going to get dirty, they know they're going to lift stuff, but they know there's going to be a ton of self-satisfaction when they're done, and there's something there that's never going away that they built.
Mikaela: I think the coolest part of this entire thing will be in 10, 20 years, when I sell this house and they comment on the stairs.
I'm gonna be like, "I made those."
The best part about that is it's there to show everybody for decades.
It's a great way to spend 8 hours on a Saturday or 8 hours on a Sunday.
Man: Mark, this walkway came out great.
Shelby: It just looks unreal.
I'm so excited.
Thank you so much.
Mark: Alright, well, you're welcome.
I think you did a great job.
Summer: Thank you.
Well, I had a great teacher.
Mark: You can do it.
Don't be afraid.
♪♪ Hey, Neeru.
Neeru: Mark, it's so nice to meet you.
Mark: My pleasure.
How you doing?
I love the house.
This is my favorite style.
Coming up this walkway was awesome.
It brought me right to the front door.
Absolutely love it.
Neeru: Thank you so much.
Really appreciate it.
We just moved in.
Neeru: This walkway definitely drew us to the house.
We're in love with it.
Neeru: And we're hoping to work with you to make the walkway a little bit more functional.
Neeru: So something we've noticed in the past year is that we're constantly walking across the yard to reach the front door.
Neeru: So we'd love to be able to extend this walkway to meet the driveway.
Mark: It makes perfect sense to go to the driveway, and you're coming back and forth.
This walkway, the way it's set up, should be pretty easy to duplicate.
Mark: So why don't we get going?
♪♪ Well, first thing we had to do was match the material, and I think we had some pretty good luck with that.
So the bluestone that we're going to use is almost a perfect match.
Of course, that's been out here in the weather for a while.
Same thing is going to happen to this.
So the tone will go a little bit darker.
Neeru: Makes sense.
Mark: But again, it'll be a great match, right?
The gravel we got super lucky on.
This gravel right here is a mixture of browns, grays.
There's actually a couple reds in there, but it's a perfect match to the walkway and to the driveway, so super lucky there.
The other material that we're going to use is the cobblestone.
So you can see this cobblestone that we have.
You see that shine right there?
Mark: That indicates to me that that's been out in the weather for quite a while.
This stone is actually 250 years old, maybe 300 years old.
Neeru: That's amazing.
Mark: Yeah, it's awesome.
Same as this one.
All that is handwork.
Mark: So it's done by just a guy and a chisel 200 or 300 years ago.
It's really prevalent in Boston to reuse cobblestones.
That shine right there -- look at how rough this is.
Mark: So that's what Mother Nature does to a stone over that period of time.
Mark: Which is super interesting, and I love it.
But we didn't get as lucky as we wanted to.
We got a lot of these stones, but not enough.
So what we did is we found this stone, probably 100 years old, but... Neeru: It's still pretty old.
Mark: It's still pretty old.
And you actually have some in the walkway.
So once we get what we have for these stones and these stones and we mix them up, just like you have in the walkway and the driveway, the match will be flawless.
So first thing we have to do is get into this walkway, right?
So you have your main walk right here.
We need an entry point to our new walkway, which, again, is going to be super easy because this was trying to use symmetry as our friend.
So we're going to just get our tape out.
We'll find out where we want to cut this original cobblestone back, we'll open up to the walkway, and that'll give us the entry point from this way, or if you're coming out of the house, as you say, going to the driveway to get into the car -- it'll be a perfect entry point, right?
Neeru: That's great.
And I love the idea of the symmetry.
Got to stay with the symmetry.
That way, everything will look like it's been here together for all this time.
Neeru: Love it.
Mark: So why don't we get some tools and get going?
Any time we dig in the front yard, we want to make sure we call the utility locating service.
We just want to make sure we don't hit any wires, gas lines, or water lines, and we are clear to go.
See if you get something there.
Neeru: You got some big chunks?
Neeru: [ Laughs ] Mark: We want to dig down, make sure we remove all the topsoil, and we want to be wide enough so we have room to keep our cobblestones on both edges.
And then we're going to compact the soil with a motorized compactor.
[ Engine rumbling ] [ Rumbling continues ] Now it's time to put in the cobblestone, and what I want to do, which is a little different from your walkway right now... Neeru: Mm-hmm.
Mark: ...is I want to add concrete under the cobblestone.
The reason for that is because the stones are erratic-shaped.
Mark: So if I put a better concrete down under that stone, I'm going to be able to level the top easier.
You got it.
Neeru: Will that keep with the natural look of the whole pathway?
Mark: So, we have a lot of frost up in New England, as you know.
So the stones with the frost will move just a little bit, just like your walkway, alright?
Neeru: Great to hear.
♪♪ So I'm noticing the strings.
Neeru: So how did we figure out that we were straight with the original walkway?
Mark: I made sure the front entry steps are square with the house.
I checked the original walkway, and I found that that was square to the stairs.
[ Laughs ] Mark: So square off of the walkway -- that's what these neon lines are now.
Keeping everything straight.
Neeru: [ Laughs ] ♪♪ ♪♪ Mark: We're going to put down landscape fabric -- that's going to help prevent weeds from growing through.
♪♪ Now we're going to put the base stone in.
♪♪ Neeru, I'll get you right there so you don't have to drag.
♪♪ ♪♪ [ Engine starts ] We're going to hit it with the compactor, and then we're going to install the bluestone.
♪♪ ♪♪ One, two, three.
♪♪ Neeru: It looks really good.
♪♪ Mark: Don't be afraid to stay a little high on the stone 'cause we're going to tamp it down a bit.
Neeru: Oh, okay.
♪♪ ♪♪ Alright.
What do you think?
Neeru: I absolutely love it.
Neeru: You matched the materials just perfectly, and it looks like it's always been here.
Well, that's the biggest part of this job is matching the material.
I think we did a great job, too, so thank you.
I am going to leave you a little bit of homework, though.
Mark: As you can see, we had to peel the edges back a little bit more just to get those cobblestones in.
Mark: Don't forget to throw some seed, throw a little bit of water.
Mark: These edges will fill right in, and you should be good to go.
Neeru: Thank you so much.
Mark: You got it.
Good luck and enjoy this walk.
Neeru: Thank you.
Neeru: [ Laughs ] ♪♪ Kevin: Uh-oh, Richard.
[ Chuckling ] What have you done now?
Richard: Well, I thought I would make a really solid case on getting heating appliances serviced.
You know, it's a crazy idea.
Kevin: [ Chuckles ] Once a year, right?
In this case, it's a gas-fired furnace.
This is the baseline in America, how most people heat their houses.
And it's pretty simple to look at as a device.
It has a return air right here and a blower that pushes air up through the unit, up into the ductwork, and goes out to heat or cool the air in the building.
Richard: Now, inside that air is also the combustion side.
So if you look right here on the front side, there's gas burners -- right?
-- a gas valve, and a fan in this case.
And what it does is it burns into a thing called a heat exchanger.
Richard: This is a sealed unit that takes all those flue products, heats up that heat exchanger.
The exhaust that is caustic and filled with bad stuff -- carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide -- will go out either to a chimney or to outside.
Richard: And that air passes by the heat exchanger, touches it, but doesn't mix with that bad air, and gets heated up, right?
Kevin: And that gets pushed throughout the house, and we're good to go.
So a proper service call that'll happen with any decent company -- it'll come as a checklist.
And what they'll do is they will check the gas pressure coming in from the supply, the gas pressure at the gas valve itself, and that determines how much gas mixes down here at the burners.
These burners will ignite into the heat exchanger.
They'll also check the safety devices, wherever they are -- here, here, and elsewhere -- to be sure they're all operational.
They'll do a combustion test with an analyzer, and that'll go in -- it'll see temperature, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, NOx.
And you can read a lot into that, and you can see if it's dialed in right.
If they don't, they'll dial it in right.
Kevin: They don't want it burning too hot -- they don't want it burning too cold.
They want it burning clean.
And there's plenty to be learned from this.
You really can't do it without some sort of combustion.
You can't just go, "Yeah, I think it's fine."
Richard: It's an important device in the building, particularly it goes out, but it also can be dangerous if you don't take care of it.
Kevin: And do you suggest people have this done once a year on a machine?
Richard: I do.
Richard: This is one thing that you really want to run.
Kevin: So this is heating only.
Kevin: There could be a heating-cooling combo.
So this is one -- this is a -- this is the baseline furnace.
This is the basic furnace.
This is the more elaborate furnace.
But I've shown you the coil on top.
You know, this is air conditioning.
Same thing happens -- fan comes back.
Kevin: Wait, wait.
Let me just interrupt for a second.
You're telling me that the gas and heat all happens down on this box?
Richard: Everything -- the same as over here.
Kevin: And you just put this box on top.
Richard: But on top is this air-conditioning section, okay?
Kevin: Oh, okay.
Richard: So, now... what should also be done every service call is to change the filter.
Even homeowners should be changing the filter.
You'd be amazed at the number of people that say, "Ah.
Oh, that filter's clogged," and they take it off and leave that naked to let air come in.
And guess what happens -- that air comes in.
It doesn't probably bother the heat exchanger too much.
But lookit inside this.
This is the cooling coil.
See how fine these fins are?
Richard: Okay, so now what happens is, if you're blowing cat hair and dust and lint up in the backside, what's going to happen is it's going to clog the air-conditioning coil.
Richard: And all of a sudden, you're going to impede the airflow -- not only for the cooling, but for the heating, as well.
Kevin: And if this gets clogged up, if this gets covered with -- Richard: Well, then, it's -- you got to take it apart because it's blowing from the backside, and there's -- you got to take carefully with a vacuum brush.
You got to get in there without bending the fins and make a coil cleaner that can do something, but it's not going to clean it.
If it's completely clogged with grease and everything else, it means you're going to have to really take it apart, clean it like crazy.
You really can't have enough filtration.
The more filtration, the better.
You know, this is not enough, I don't think.
This is what you should have as a baseline.
Kevin: Ounce of prevention.
Kevin: And if I don't do this, what's the risk?
I lose efficiency?
It doesn't turn on when I want?
Richard: You certainly lose efficiency.
But I brought this one along because I just went to an HVAC contractors' yard, and I said, "Hey, you got any furnaces?"
He said, "We just took this one out yesterday.
Look at this."
So, this is a furnace that had never been serviced.
It wasn't their customer.
And so, if you look down carefully right here, there's cracks on every one of these sections, which means that the carbon monoxide, every time the gas burner was on... Kevin: That was supposed to be coming out here... Richard: Correct.
...was leaking into the living space.
And the only reason they actually discovered it is they were so hot this summer, they decided to call this company to have them add air conditioning.
They finally had a combustion analysis, and they literally saved their life.
Kevin: That could have been deadly.
Richard: Could have been.
It really is important.
Kevin: So had they done a regular service call -- I noticed that you, you know, you checked the flue access.
Richard: I would have picked it up.
I would have picked it up.
I would have picked it up in the airstream.
Kevin: Do they test that?
You go in here, and you make sure -- it should be absolutely this clean, beautiful air.
Richard: If you see any CO, you know something's cross-contaminating between them.
Kevin: Well, if they're not all convinced now, that should convince them right there.
Richard: Call a pro.
This one you don't do yourself.
You need these devices.
Call a pro.
Thank you, Richard.
♪♪ Nathan: Hi, Kim.
Kim: Hi, Nathan.
Nathan: This is an incredible spot you have here.
Kim: Thank you.
Nathan: It's beautiful.
Kim: Thank you.
Welcome to Texas.
Nathan: Thanks for having me.
Nathan: Tell me a little bit about your home.
Kim: We love it here in Texas.
You know, we're on six acres.
We have animals.
Nathan: I noticed a creek down there.
Kim: Have a creek down there... Nathan: Yeah, it's beautiful.
Kim: ...which is super nice, yes.
But in your email, I -- did I read that right -- you have six kids?
Kim: Six kids, yes.
Nathan: And I know kids come with a lot of toys, right?
Kim: A lot of toys.
Nathan: Not going back into the same spot when they're done?
Kim: Absolutely not, Nathan.
No, these are kids.
Nathan: [ Chuckling ] Yeah, exactly.
So you want a little help getting that organized?
Kim: I would love to get that organized.
Let's take a look.
Kim: Okay, sounds good.
So here we have our garage.
Kim: We have a lot of items in here.
We'd really like to get it organized 'cause we'd love to put, like, a Ping-Pong table or something in here.
You got -- You have the room for it.
It's a huge space.
And this looks like a nice wall, like a blank canvas.
I picked up a bunch of parts and pieces that we can hang up there.
It's a really customizable kit.
And what's cool, over the years, if your needs change, you can take it down and reorganize it.
I have the parts out front if you want to take a look.
Kim: Yeah, that'd be great.
Nathan: So there's a few things I would recommend that we don't store inside of the garage -- things like photos, food, perishables, musical instruments.
You know, it's not a climate-controlled space.
Nathan: But I wanted to talk about the storage system I picked out.
But first, let's cover kind of an older method.
This is a pegboard style.
It's a little bit more on the light-duty side.
It can't really handle the load that we want because we want to hang bikes and we want to put heavy boxes on.
Nathan: So I went with a more modern track system like this.
It's really customizable.
We'll attach it directly to the studs.
It can handle a really heavy load.
What's great is you can buy a bunch of different types of hooks.
You can buy brackets for it.
The brackets go into those drops, and you can put shelving on it, so we can put our boxes up.
It's really easy to install.
This is a little bit of a different system -- we're going to attach this directly to the studs, as well.
This will be great for smaller hand tools -- they even have a magnet right here, so you can throw some stuff up there when you're not using it.
Kim: Okay, cool.
Nathan: But I think the first thing we need to do is get that garage emptied.
♪♪ Kim: [ Laughs ] ♪♪ Does this count as cardio and weight training?
Nathan: It does.
Kim: [ Laughs ] ♪♪ Nathan: Alright, let's start by putting up this 7-foot track.
Nathan: What I'd like to do is set it at a height that you can reach the top of... Kim: Okay.
Nathan: ...in case you want to swap out the pieces over time.
[ Drill whirring ] Nathan: So now that we have that left end attached, okay, I'm going to grab my -- I'll grab another screw and my torpedo level.
Nathan: So I'm just going to tell you up or down, and that'll level the track out.
So go up a little bit.
Up, up, up.
A little bit more.
That's nice and level.
[ Drill whirring ] Kim: It looks like it's, you know, a little bit lower on this end.
Nathan: It does, yeah.
Has a little bit -- looks like it's pitching down, but if we put the torpedo on, this is perfectly level.
But if we put it on this top plate, it pitches a little bit down.
Nathan: So the important thing is to get this perfectly level, because we're going to have all those shelves that are going to come down off of that.
So, we're going to add an extra screw to every stud that we come across.
It will be really strong, level, and that's just what we want.
Kim: Okay, perfect.
[ Drill whirring ] Nathan: Now that we got that on, we can actually click this on.
So, to me, just a little bit.
Back to you.
Kim: Oh, cool.
Nathan: Now we can literally just start hanging attachments right off the bat.
Kim: Oh, okay.
Nathan: All right.
Time to put the top shelf on.
Nathan: So we'll favor the right a little bit.
Nathan: And those come through the front, and then fall all the way back.
And you want to pull this down a little bit and then slide that lock in.
Kim: Can I put my tub on there to see what it looks like?
Nathan: Give it a try.
Kim: Yeah, let's see.
♪ Ahhhh ♪ That's so nice.
[ Drill whirring ] Nathan: This -- it would be nice to break on four studs.
So this will actually be perfect right here.
It's getting easier and easier.
This is... Ah!
Oh, wow, the shovel.
So, do I put my shovel on my hook or on my...?
Nathan: You can do -- So, with this one, if it's -- if it's tall enough, you can do something like that.
Kim: Oh, wow.
Nathan: Or you can probably go with this one -- you'd probably go and put your handle on.
Kim: Oh, yeah.
You can tell you've done this before.
This looks good.
So, we measured the larger bike.
Nathan: And it was 66 inches.
I'm going to add two inches to bring it off the ground a little bit to where the hook is.
Nathan: And what I want to do is I'm going to do 68 inches here.
Do you want it to go any lower for the next one, or you want to keep them all up at 68?
Kim: I think keep them all at 68.
So, as they grow and as their bikes are larger, I don't have to worry about moving it around.
So what we're going to do is we're going to hit three studs with our track.
Kim: It's going to be that way.
Nathan: And what we can do is we'll try and put it right on a stud.
Nathan: Here and here.
Kim: That is so cool!
Kim: That looks awesome.
[ Drill whirring ] Nathan: Alright, they make this awesome ladder hook so we can hang your ladder up right here, out of the way.
How's it going, guys?
Nathan: What do you think?
Peyton: Am I dreaming right now?
Nathan: This is real life.
You got your bikes hanging up on the end there, right?
And as you get older, you can swap out your bike, and it'll always be tall enough for you.
We got the ladder hanging up, but we need your help to fill up all the rest of this.
So let's go grab some stuff and fill it up.
Kim: Alright, you guys ready?
Kim: Alright, let's go.
♪♪ Nathan: Easier for you guys.
Put that right there.
And then... these tennis balls -- why don't you try hooking that... right onto there?
Peyton: Right here.
Nathan: You can go right on both.
That way, it'll stay nice and level.
Kim: Yeah, and then it's perfect!
Look at that!
♪♪ Nathan: Looks good.
Look at you.
♪♪ Pretty good.
♪♪ Nathan: Alright.
Alright, guys, what do you think?
Together: It looks good.
Nathan: Like it?
Clark: It's really cool.
Nathan: I think you got a lot of room right here -- maybe a Ping-Pong table or something else.
Nathan: Talk to Mom and Dad.
Kim: [ Laughs ] Clark: Ping-Pong table?
Lou: Alright, let's do it.
Nathan: Well, thank you for having me.
I appreciate it.
Jackson: Thanks again.
Kim: Thank you for coming out.
Thanks for visiting us here in Texas and helping us get organized.
Take care, guys.
Nathan: Bye, guys.
Together: See ya.
♪♪ ♪♪ Kevin: Next time on "Ask This Old House"... What rules and regulations do you need to know about if you're building near a wetland?
Jenn will explain.
Then we'll introduce you to a contractor worth celebrating -- New Jersey's own Zack Dettmore.
Plus, do you know the quality of the air inside your home?
Ross will show you how to test it and share why it's so important.
All that on "Ask This Old House."