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 would like to put a walk-in tub into a large shower area in my master bathroom. One of my big concerns is whether this type of bath leaks a lot.
ANSWER: Walk-in tubs are an excellent bathroom amenity for those who want to stay in their homes as they grow older. The door of a walk-in tub is engineered so that it will not leak, and of course, the pressure of the water in the tub will hold the door closed. They can be built with bench seating and special hand-rails for extra safety. One issue, of course, is that you probably need to be in the tub while it fills with water because you can’t open the door once water begins to rise. However, special temperature controls and quick-filling faucets can be installed to make this process go quickly. You also usually need to stay in the tub while it drains out after your bath. Some people have a towel hanging close by to use to keep warm while the water drains.
Q: I had my rather large swimming pool drained so that I could do some repairs. But my question is: Why is it bad to drain your pool and leave it empty for a long time? What could go wrong?
A: It’s because the water holds the pool in place and keeps it stable. Otherwise, the walls could move and crack and, in the worst case – if there was heavy rainfall – the pool could pop out of the ground if the water table gets too high. This is due to possible hydrostatic pressure from ground water. Such a consequence is highly unlikely in Southern Arizona, but has happened in Florida and California. When the pool is empty, the sun in midsummer can also do considerable damage to the plaster walls inside the pool. Chunks of plaster can begin to peel off if the temperature gets into the 90s and the pool is not filled with water.
Q: I have a problem with a Texas fan ash in my yard that is not thriving the way it should. I’ve had it for about 10 years and it’s only 12 feet tall. It seems healthy enough, but it’s just not growing very quickly. I’ve been deep watering it once a week and using a special rod to measure and be sure the water gets down to 3 feet deep in the soil.
A: That lack of growth does seem strange because this type of tree is typically a fast-growing variety. It’s certainly undersized for spending that many years in the ground. I suspect that it has girdling roots – roots that circled around the box that the tree came in. Sometimes when these trees are planted, the girdling roots won’t spread out into the surrounding soil. It could be the fault of the nursery. Usually when plants are in the container for a long time, they bump up the trees to the next size container to prevent girdling, but if the nursery doesn’t do that the roots keep circling around. Certain trees are more prone to these problems than others.
You could prune the girdled roots, but you probably need to have a tree service do that. They can use a new kind of tool called an air spade to displace the soil around the roots and see if there is girdling. This equipment uses compressed air to break up and remove soil. It works more quickly than conventional digging and minimizes the damage to tree roots. After this is done, a tree service can evaluate the problems with the roots and correct the issues involved.