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 lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona. Here are questions about home maintenance and improvement from the Tucson area:
Q: I have been getting quotes for having solar electric panels installed on my roof. They tell me that they can cut down the current vent pipes on the roof to fit under the panels. Is that wise?
A: You can do that, but you could cause problems in your plumbing system. A better way of handling that issue would be to move the vents or cut them as low as you can to fit under the panels, but then use pipe elbows and extensions to redirect the vents around the panels. You need those vents to maintain the proper function of your waste piping system.
Q: Whenever I take a shower, I can hear the water heater making a whining noise afterward. It also seems to happen at about 2:30 a.m. as well. I’ve heard news stories about malfunctioning water heaters that can even turn into rockets, so it makes me nervous. What’s going on?
A: It’s probably just the normal process of heating up the water because you used up the hot water with your shower or because the water temperature drops in the middle of the night.
Heating elements inside the tank will often make noise when they turn on. Make sure you have a properly installed and plumbed pressure-relief valve to prevent your water heater from blowing up.
Q: I have a huge tangerine tree that was just full of tangerines this year. The quantity is great although they were very small. Can we leave them on the tree until we get around to eating them or will it hurt the tree?
A: It is a problem because if you pick them, you generally have to juice them or eat them fairly soon. It won’t damage the tree, but they can get overripe while they sit there. The fruits can also attract rodents.
Q: My roof is covered in concrete tiles. It has a thick underlayment with a granular finish that I think is 90-pound felt. When it’s retiled, should the underlayment have the same thickness?
A: As you know, the actual waterproofing for your roof and home is provided by the underlayment beneath the tiles. This important layer of felt will deteriorate over time due to Arizona’s heat and sun. The heaviness of the felt you need depends in part on the quality of the tiles you have. Ninety-pound felt, a very good underlayment, may be more than you need, however.
Two layers of 40-pound felt with strips put across it for nailing down the tiles will deliver long-term protection.
Q: I have a firestick plant in my yard that has gotten really big, and we’ve turned it into a tree shape. It’s always been red, orange and green. But now it’s getting yellower rather than looking orange. Is something wrong with it?
A: The firestick is a euphorbia that is considered a succulent. If it’s yellowing up and losing its trademark orange color, it may be suffering from root rot. That means you may be watering this succulent plant too much. It most likely needs to dry out before you water again.