Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Rosie Romero’s radio show with questions about everything from preventing fires in their chimneys to getting rid of tree roots in their sewer system. His goal is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona. Here are questions about home maintenance and improvement from the Tucson area.
QUESTION: You often suggest that homeowners replace old water softeners with an up-to-date model to save water. Are you recommending sticking with the basic water softener process or switching to a different kind of treatment system?
ANSWER: I definitely recommend replacing an older water softener with a newer one because today’s models are more energy efficient and use less water. But you certainly need to keep using the traditional softener process because Arizona has some of the hardest water in the nation that can shorten the life of your faucets, fixtures, and your appliances, including your dishwasher. A new model will use far less water during recharging when the device has to flush calcium and magnesium out of its filter and send it down the drain.
For example, a 20-year-old softener with a time clock would regenerate or recharge every two or three days and would use an average of 125 to 140 gallons of water. A high-efficiency new water softener only regenerates when it has to and might only be every 30 to 40 days, using only 18 gallons of water in the process.
Q: I have to replace an over-the-range microwave . I now am trying to install it myself. But when I started drilling into the drywall to put in the bolts, I ran into resistance and can’t drill through it. What’s going on?
A: You probably cannot drill into the wall because you hit a metal nail plate that was put there so that you do not pierce pipes or electrical wiring behind the drywall. You may need to relocate your bracket for the microwave higher or lower than you originally intended in order to miss that plate. Or you may also try to cut out a small piece of drywall in that area to expose the obstruction. Then you can work around it .
Q: We want to replace a bathroom vanity and add granite countertops. Should we buy the vanity we want with the granite already on it, and then have that unit installed? And would a contractor be willing to do that installation ?
A: Many contractors do not want to install items that they have not purchased themselves as it is hard to warranty on someone else’s product. If you are planning to install the vanity yourself, you may be able to get a friendly contractor’s advice first on how to go about doing that. But remember to compare what you want to buy to the quality of cabinets and granite that a contractor could provide.
Q: I’ve been looking at replacement vinyl windows. Then I heard you recommend aluminum-clad wood windows. Is that my best choice? They are over my budget.
A: For years, I have been recommending aluminum-clad wood windows. These have a wood frame on the inside, but are covered outside with durable aluminum. You can stain or paint the frames inside to match the color of your room. On the outside, you never have to paint them, and the aluminum will hold up the best under the Arizona sun. These windows are also the most costly choice. If they don’t suit your budget, I recommend fiberglass as the next-best choice in the desert. If you go with vinyl, make sure the windows are reinforced with metal.