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 invading 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: I have a 15- to 20-foot- tall saguaro in my yard, and I would like to move it or sell it. Is it possible to do that?
ANSWER: Yes, you can do that, but saguaros are protected native plants and you cannot sell one without first obtaining a permit from the Arizona Department of Agriculture. The law actually requires that a person have a permit to be in possession of any protected native plant taken from its habitat. The permit fee is $7 plus $8 for a tag for the saguaro. You can contact the department office in Tucson. There are nurseries that may buy the plant from you, get the permit and do the relocating.
Q: I have wooden fascia board on the side of my house that has a southern exposure. The paint is peeling off the board, and it is showing cracks. But I have been told that I can sand it and repair and fill the cracks with putty. Once it’s fixed, should I coat it with elastomeric paint?
A: That’s not a good idea. Fascia boards are one of the many wrong places on a house that you can cover with elastomeric paint. Thick elastomeric coatings are extremely expensive and can be very costly to repair later because you can’t patch them when you have a problem.
So after you get that fascia sanded and primed and have the cracks filled, all you need to put on the board is one coat of primer and two coats of 100 percent exterior acrylic paint.
Q: I have an older septic system for my house that tends to get clogged with roots. I have recently replaced the leach field. I was wondering if I could run the drainage system for my very old water softener into the septic tank; it currently drains off on my lot on open land. I have heard that softened water is bad for plants and it might help me control the tree roots that keep invading the septic system.
A: You certainly can discharge softened water into your septic system without hurting your septic tank. But the softened water is not likely to have any effect on the tree roots. It might be a good idea to take that problem tree out of your yard. By the way, if you upgrade your water softener, it will use far less water than your old one does and really cut your water bill.
Q: I have a 1948 house with a roof that’s about to collapse. It’s sagging from one end to the other end and from the pitch down the sides. It looks like a swaybacked horse. It’s because there is almost no bracing inside; there is a 1x4 for the ridge beam and 2x4s for the rafter beams. I called 11 roofers and only one came out to look at it. He wanted a terrifying amount of money and said we’d have to move out of the house for two and a half weeks while he fixed it. My wife works at home and she’d have to leave her computer behind so I don’t see how we could do that. What should we try next?
A: You should start by calling a structural engineer in Tucson. Describe what the problem is. The engineer may be able to recommend a way to reinforce the existing structure rather than tearing it out and putting a new one into the attic. He or she may also have contacts for you to call to have the recommended work done.
As a side note: Major structural modifications to support your roof will most likely require a building permit from the city.