Every year, thousands of Arizona residents email Rosie Romero's website or call his radio show with questions about everything from how to prevent fires in their chimneys to what to do about the tree roots invading their sewer systems. One of his goals is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona.
QUESTION: I have a 35-foot-tall mesquite in my yard with limbs that hang over my house. It also has extensive roots that have twice invaded my sewer lines in the past couple of years. What should I do about it? Should I remove the tree?
ANSWER: You have a terrible dilemma. On the one hand, what we're always looking for in the desert is more shade, and the idea of taking down a big shade tree is difficult to face. It's possible that this tree has been feeding off a water leak in your irrigation system, but more probably it has tapped into your sewer system, especially if you have old clay pipes. The decision is really up to you. Can you live without the shade or are you willing to keep paying for a sewer cleaning company to keep clearing out the line or maybe even replacing sections of your sewer line?
Q: I'm changing the color of my house and have decided to put a shade of white on the exterior walls. Do you have any tips on how to go to a lighter color over the medium brown that is already on the stucco? How many coats of paint do I need to put on?
A: Just to be sure you should use a primer first and then at least one coat of your final off-white paint. During painting, walls should be sprayed with paint and back-rolled with more paint to really push paint into the pores of the stucco. You might want to test a small area of the house first to be sure you are getting the right coverage with the color you want.
Before you start painting, though, you need to fill cracks in the stucco with elastomeric caulk and patch any damaged areas. All penetrations through stucco need caulking as well as areas where stucco touches wood, metal and masonry. Wooden areas under eaves should be scraped and primed. Stucco walls also must be pressure-washed to remove dirt or loose or peeling paint.
Q: Recently, I have seen lots of companies advertising what they call "cool paint" that will cover your home's exterior so thoroughly that the inside of your house will be cooler. They also say, "You will never have to paint again." Is this something that would be good to consider in Arizona or is this not true? I would really like some kind of paint that would last for more than eight to 10 years.
A: There are paint companies out there that say they can cool the walls of your house to reduce your energy bills, but we have not found them to be very effective. Other paints that are essentially very thick elastomeric coatings are extremely expensive and can be costly to repair later on because you can't patch them when you have a problem. High-quality, 100 percent acrylic paint is the best covering to put on your house. Unfortunately, eight years is about the maximum life span for a coat of paint in Arizona's heat and sun.
Q: We are considering installing a humidifier system in our house. We have air conditioning and heating pumps in the attic and were told it might not be a good idea to put in a humidifier too, because of the possibility of a leak. What do you think?
A: If you install a whole house humidifier in your home, you will be working against your air conditioning system. An AC unit is designed to take the moisture out of your home and cool the air. A humidifier would then make your AC work a lot harder. So unless you are just going to use the humidifier during the months that you do not use your air conditioner, we do not recommend installing one. As for putting the humidifier in the attic, a reputable air conditioning firm can tell you where the right place is for a humidifier.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com online. Rosie Romero, an Arizona homebuilding and remodeling industry expert for 25 years, is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally 8-11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) and -FM (97.1) in Tucson and KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 1-888-767-4348.