Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Rosie 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.
Q: I have a shower inside a fiberglass bathtub that does not have a glass shower enclosure. But the shower curtain that we use does a poor job of keeping the water in the tub. Water keeps pooling up on the tub ledge and then gets on a cabinet next to the tub. How can I fix this? Do I have to install sliding glass doors on the tub?
A: Installing a shower enclosure with sliding glass doors is probably your best solution. You don’t want water to puddle up next to a wooden cabinet. There are shower curtains available that have weights on the bottom hem or suction cups that can stick onto the tub, but a solution like that probably won’t solve your problem.
The good news is that installing sliding doors on a tub is a fairly easy do-it-yourself project. Most enclosures come in standard sizes that will fit typical bathtubs; you just need the measurements for your tub when you buy one. The trickiest part of the job will be mounting and sealing the track for the doors on the edge of the bathtub. Be careful in drilling the holes for the screws that fasten the track onto the tub. When you’re drilling into fiberglass, you need a drill with a nice sharp bit. You also want to use a good silicone caulk for this project. It will dry to a glossy finish and will be much easier to keep clean.
Q: I have had the same shower caddy hanging off the shower head in my master bedroom for a few years. Suction cups held it on to the cultured marble wall of the shower. But it’s really a wreck, and now we’ve removed it from the shower. However, there are white leached marks on the shower walls that seem to be lined with cultured marble. What can I do about removing them?
A: Unfortunately, there’s not a whole lot that you can do to remove them. If you scour away at them with an abrasive liquid cleanser, you will damage the surface of the cultured marble by removing its gloss. You can put wax back on it to make it shiny again, but the wax will keep coming off. Probably your best bet is to use some sort of new caddy to cover up the area.
Q: I have a mesquite tree in my backyard, and its roots seem to be crawling toward our swimming pool. Is there some substance that I can put on those roots to stop them without killing the tree?
A: You need to call a landscaper in to look at the situation. You may be able to build a trench between the tree roots and the pool and put in some barrier fabric or rigid plastic to try to stop the roots. Some fabrics are impregnated with a compound that impedes root growth. It’s not a surefire solution, but it may work. The idea is that the roots will be directed down and away from a pool or other structure to grow deeper in the soil where they can find more nutrients and water.
Q: I have an 18-year-old house where a stem wall has been settling. As a result, I’ve had a lot of tile cracking starting from the front of the house to the back door. We replaced the tile, but now that new tile is cracking. What should we do?
A: You don’t want to replace the tile again; floor tile just can’t hold your house together when clearly the foundation is moving. You need to call in an expert to do a foundation analysis and give you some advice on how to prevent further movement. Once you’ve worked out a solution, any tile repairs you do should be OK. The stem walls, of course, are the supporting structures that join the home’s foundation to the vertical walls in the house.
Q: I have a 40-acre parcel on a big plateau in Tubac, and I’m thinking about building my dream home there. I’d like to build the house around a central courtyard and have a basement under the courtyard. Do you have any suggestions for me?
A: Right now, you probably have all kinds of ideas rolling around in your head, but before you get very far, you really ought to talk to a good architect to see if he or she can put all your thoughts together in the right way. I do suggest that you build a home out of masonry instead of using frame construction and that you put a metal roof on it. Masonry is not subject to as much movement; it’s a much more stable way to build.