- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 21, 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 dilemmas.

“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 [email protected] 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 camera.

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 any mysteries.

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 fix it.”

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 window.

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 the problem.

“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 it fixed.”

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. in Rockville.

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.”

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