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.
Q: Javelinas travel very close to my home and yard at night. They often nibble on some of my favorite plants. Do you have any suggestions for keeping them away from my garden?
A: Javelinas love lush vegetation, tender young plants, bulbs, tubers, cacti, succulents and any plants that drop fruit or nuts. Prickly pears and flowering cactuses are among their particular favorites.
You can scare off javelinas by catching them in the act. But the problem is that they mainly graze in your yard at night, and no one wants to stay up all night to surprise them. So your best bet is to landscape with plants they won’t eat; keep your gates closed; and never feed them. You can also fence off plants you want them to avoid. Some nurseries suggest sprinkling coyote urine products around favorite plants; some homeowners say that works.
Q: We are considering replacing the tile in our home with engineered hardwood floors. But we are snowbirds who leave Tucson from May to November every year when our house is totally closed up; during that time we use no air conditioning or other ventilation in our home. We have been told that hardwood could be damaged in this situation. What do you recommend?
A: Your lifestyle does present a serious problem. In Arizona, it’s very important before installation that your wood flooring be allowed to acclimate inside your house. Generally, any kind of wood material must sit in your house for about two weeks before being laid on the floor.
Once it is installed, you cannot leave your home for very long periods of time and turn off the air conditioning or heating while you’re gone as seasonal residents tend to do. You have to continue to cool your home or there could be movement in your flooring. Instead of installing wood, perhaps you should consider travertine or some kind of tile. There is actually porcelain tile flooring now that closely imitates wood flooring.
Q: I have a 12-year-old house that I’ve lived in for nine years. I’ve noticed lots of ads and commercials for termite control services. I don’t think I’ve had termites yet, but are they a big issue in Arizona? Should I have my home checked?
A: Termites are active year-round in Arizona, but August through the fall is a time when they can be particularly active. That’s often when they shoot up exploratory mud tubes along your walls in search of wood products to feed on. A very popular phrase here in Arizona is: It’s not if you will get termites, it’s when you will get them.
If your home is more than a few years old, you should start having annual termite inspections. You can also watch for signs of termites at work: small holes in wood or drywall, sagging wood floors or doors, and most important, those thin mud tubes on the exterior of your home or inside your garage. These tiny tubes are tan in color; termites often build them up or around solid objects to reach a food source.
For termite control, you need a trained exterminator armed with drills, sub-slab injectors, motorized pumps, and the right chemicals. Spot treatment probably will not control termites. You need to have the perimeter of your home treated when termites are found.