“This Old House” Plumbing Expert Richard Trethewey Talks Replacing Pipes in Flint

Episodes of This Old House featuring Detroit and Flint will begin to air on March 30th.

This Old House

The cast and crew of PBS’ home improvement show This Old House has been in Michigan for months working to rehab houses in Detroit.

They are now branching out to Flint to see what local officials are doing to address the city’s water crisis.

Richard Trethewey, the show’s plumbing and heating expert, has recently been to Flint with a film crew. While there, he spoke with investigative journalist Curt Guyette, who broke the story of the lead-tainted drinking water while working for the ACLU of Michigan.

Trethewey also visited the Flint Water Treatment Plant, filmed a work crew replacing a lead-tainted pipe leading from the street to a Flint home, and spoke with the coordinator of the city’s FAST Start program to replace all lead service pipes in Flint.

Trethewey joins host Stephen Henderson on Detroit Today to discuss the pipe replacement program.  

“In the case of Flint… this is, we think, the country’s worst plumbing disaster,” said Trethewey. “We just wanted to come in and understand what happened, really. Not who and why, but what happened.” 

Lead pipes still exists in homes built up to the mid-1930s and early 1940s, Trethewey says. However, if the water chemistry is fine, he says the lead piping does not really touch the water. He says it’s when the water chemistry is changed that it can become damaging to pipes and can cause issues like what we are seeing in Flint. 

Episodes of This Old House featuring Detroit and Flint will begin to air on March 30th. 

Click on the audio player above to hear the full conversation. 

Click here to hear host Kevin O’Connor and contractor Tom Silva speak with Stephen last September about their main project in Detroit, and click here to hear Tom Silva talk in December about the show’s second home project in Detroit.


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    Dynamic and diverse voices. News, politics, community and the issues that define our region. Hosted by Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Stephen Henderson, Detroit Today brings you fresh and perceptive views weekdays at 9 am and 7 pm.