Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Romero’s radio show with questions about everything from preventing chimney fires to getting rid of tree roots in their sewer systems. 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: I have an old sliding glass door with a pet door in it. Now I want to replace this door with a dual-paned sliding glass door. Can I put a doggy door in the new door?
ANSWER: Makers of doors and windows usually recommend against doing this because it can affect the integrity and efficiency of the glass door. It’s better to find a spot near the glass door — a spot in your wall — to use for the doggy door.
But you should also remember that any kind of doggy door is not secure and can open your home up to intruders. If you absolutely must have a pet door, put it in a wall in a room that doesn’t have a door to the outside of your house. You can put a lock on the interior door in that room that leads into the rest of your home. That way you can leave your pet in that room while you are away from home and help secure your house against burglars by locking the interior door.
Q: I live in a 3-year-old home, and recently I noticed what seems to be water damage in the downstairs dining-room ceiling. A seam was bubbling on the drywall paper. Could this be a plumbing issue, because the ceiling is right below the master bathroom? Whom should I call and could I make an insurance claim? Our subdivision is just about complete, but the builder is still in the area.
A: It does sound like a plumbing problem, but if it was a really big water problem, it usually is a big water stain that has also a ring around it.
If the contractor is still around doing work, I’d go over and grab the construction superintendent and ask him to take a look at your problem before you do anything else. By law, the builder is responsible for problems in your house for only the two years after construction. But the company may have run into similar problems in other houses in the subdivision and can give you some advice or some help. Even if they don’t offer to fix it, you could ask them to open up the spot and tell them you will pay for the repairs. Good contractors should be willing to help you.
Q: Before I moved to Arizona, I lived in Florida where they were really big on metal roofs. I was wondering if I could do the same thing here on my home. My plan is to skin all the shingles off, put down 30-pound felt and then put down urethane foam with some airspace and then metal roofing on top of all that. Will that work?
A: That sounds like a very good installation, but it’s a little bit more expensive than you probably need in the Central Arizona desert. In Arizona below the Mogollon Rim, homeowners are often very worried about the half of the summertime electric bill that deals with cooling their house. But the truth is that only about 5 percent of your electricity expenses over a year’s time are involved with the condition of your attic or roof. A conventional Arizona roof with R-38 insulation in the attic properly installed is what you need. Beyond that, you may be paying too much for the roofing and you won’t get enough out of electricity savings to cover the cost.
Q: I have an older home with a 40-foot by 60-foot flat roof that was covered with sprayed urethane foam many years ago and elastomeric coating on top of it. Now it’s starting to leak here, there and everywhere. Do I need to completely replace the roof, or can I just coat it again?
A: Urethane foam that is properly coated can last virtually forever. You can actually put several elastomeric coatings on top of it. But after time, it does deteriorate. You need to have an experienced roofer go up there to look at it and see what to do. Only someone with a trained eye can decide whether the roof is damaged beyond the point of recoating or whether you need to pull it off and redo the roof. If the roof is very old, then you could have mildew or rot underneath somewhere that needs to be repaired. You may also have some damaged roof plywood sheathing that may need replacing.