When Mr. Fixit needs a hand
By Jen Waters
THE WASHINGTON TIMES
Published March 22, 2006
Yelinne and John Megally, newlyweds who live in Chantilly, knew they
needed to make improvements on their home. Although they worked on some
of the projects themselves, Mr. Megally sought advice from television's
home experts for the more daunting tasks -- a squeaking kitchen floor
and leaking dining room ceiling.
Thanks to "Finders Fixers," a home improvement show that is to
premiere this fall on the DIY Network, the Megallys have solved their
"I'm so excited, very excited," Mrs. Megally says. "I'm going to
enjoy my home a lot more."
The show aims to solve typical and not-so-typical household
mysteries. One of three certified home inspectors investigates
homeowners' complaints, repairs the problems and offers advice for
preventing future troubles.
Homeowners who would like to be on the show can e-mail the
producers directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or go to the
www.DIYnetwork.com and click the Be on DIY link.
Homeowners chosen for the show are visited by a home inspector and
contractor before a 9- to 12-hour shoot day. They are expected to get
their hands dirty in the fix-it process and wear clothing suitable for
a professional setting. Though the program generally is unscripted,
participants often are asked to repeat what they have said for the
Depending on the complexity of the project, the show contributes a
portion of the expenses. Otherwise, the homeowners pay the remaining
bill. So far, advisers from "Finders Fixers" haven't been stumped by
In the Megallys' home, the kitchen floor had been installed
incorrectly, says host Tim Hockenberry, a home inspector. He runs Home
Facts, a home inspection firm in Vienna.
Though the Megallys suspected that water flowing under the floor
was causing squeaking, poor installation and dirt and debris were the
cause, Mr. Hockenberry says. The underlayment was inadequate, and it
did not help that the floor was laid parallel with the floor framing
joists. Mr. Hockenberry assisted in removing the old floor and
correctly installing a new one.
The water stains on the dining room ceiling came from an old
overflow gasket in the bathtub. Water also was leaking through the seal
around the bottom of the toilet.
"Any mystery is a process of deduction," Mr. Hockenberry says. "You
look for clues of what's going on. If you have a mystery in the house
that you can't solve, we'll help you figure it out and show you how to
Everybody who owns a home has at least one mystery, says Ross
Babbit, director of programming at the DIY Network in Knoxville, Tenn.
If people glean advice from the television program, they can visit the
show Web site for more detailed instructions, he says.
The popularity of home improvement shows originates from people's
desire to have a safe place to call their own, Mr. Babbit says.
"There has been a return to comfort, a return to home," he says. "A
lot of times, people like to go to DIY and leave it on as background
music and get tips, tricks and techniques to improve their home life.
It becomes a one-stop shop for all your home needs."
After being visited by "Finders Fixers," Joel Ranck of Northeast
says he has regained the use of his fireplace. Every time Mr. Ranck
used his fireplace, smoke would come into the house through a nearby
A small hole had developed in the flue in the firebox. Smoke
traveled behind the plaster wall, into the window-frame cavity, out of
the window and into the house. Patching the hole with mortar has solved
"It wasn't as bad as having a leak in the roof," Mr. Ranck says. "I
can live without my fireplace, but like anything else, you want to get
Sylvia and Joseph Correnti of Satellite Beach, Fla., couldn't look
at the outside of their stucco home without feeling frustrated by
recurring rust. The moist ocean air wears against the exterior of the
house, Mrs. Correnti says.
"We live in one of the most caustic environments," Mrs. Correnti
says. "The wind is constant. We get chunks of salt on our windows. We
have to hose them down at the end of every week. If it's aluminum, it
corrodes. If it's metal, it rusts. Paint fades quickly."
Home inspector Wally Conway discovered that the metal corner bead
behind the stucco rusted through the cement, she says. He installed a
vinyl corner bead and added a decorative stucco stop to the vinyl
corner bead, which made the corners of the home thicker. Eventually,
the couple will paint the entire house beige.
"If you remove a rusty piece of metal and put more metal back where
it was, if there is any trace of rust there at all, the rust will come
back," Mrs. Correnti says. "We had to take out everything that was
metal and use plastic."
Reoccurring mold was one of the mysteries the show was able to
solve for Teresa and Scott Taylor in Alexandria, says Pete Couste,
supervising producer of "Finders Fixers" at Horizon Entertainment Corp.
Mold would develop on the ceiling of their son's bedroom, which
didn't make any sense, Mr. Couste says. There was no leak in the
gutters or the roof.
As it turns out, the bathroom fan wasn't moving enough air, and
moisture would build up in the bathroom. When the family opened the
bathroom door, the steam would float into the hallway to the son's room
and gather on the ceiling. It gathered there because the insulation
above the ceiling had deteriorated and the moist, hot air moved to the
coldest space, causing condensation, he says.
"We put in a new, much stronger fan in the bathroom," Mr. Couste
says. "By changing the fan, we reduced the mold problem in the bathroom
and the chances of mold growing in the bedroom. We also put new
insulation above the bedroom in the attic. We cleaned the mold. The
couple repainted the ceiling where the mold had been."
"We try to help people become a little more confident about taking
on some of these things themselves," Mr. Couste says. "When they are
faced with a repair around the house, they might delay it for a while.
They might not know enough about what they should do. We hope it
encourages them and empowers them."