Too much water in the grout mix can cause voids between tiles.

Credit: Rosie on the House

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.

QUESTION: I had ceramic tile laid down eight months ago in my house with tiles that simulate wood planks. Now I see voids of about one-inch-long in the grout between the tiles in several places. Is that a technical problem of some kind?

ANSWER: If that is happening in multiple areas, the tile installer must have used too much water when he mixed the grout or when they washed it afterward. This is an issue that can be fixed. But don’t let the contractor put new grout on top of the old grout. He needs to take 60 percent of the old grout out in order to fix it.

Call your contractor soon to notify him of the problem. Be sure to take lots of photographs of the floor in its current state. If your contractor is reluctant to do the repair, put the situation into writing and send a letter to him via certified mail with a return receipt requested. If he still refuses to make repairs, you can go to the Arizona Registrar of Contractors with your problem. You have two years from the day he finished the job to get the registrar’s help. So, hang onto your initial contract. One final note: The contractor may have to stain the grout in order to make everything look uniform again.

Q: I have tankless water heater that is about 2½ years old. Recently, I’ve had problems with it shutting off automatically. When I go out to the electric panel, the breaker for the heater is in the off position. I move it back to on and then sometime later it will shut off again. I don’t think anyone is turning it off deliberately. I kept the panel locked up and it happened during that time as well.

A: One of our favorite electricians tells us that there is one brand of tankless water heaters that can shut down like that when it’s having problems. He recommends having an electrician check to see if you’re having a problem with your electrical line. If that’s not the issue, the unit itself may need to be repaired or replaced by a plumber or manufacturer.

Q: We would like to build an addition to our house with a couple of bedrooms plus some new storage space, but we don’t know where to start. Should we hire a designer or architect or do we need a general contractor instead?

A: You probably can hire a general contractor that does design-build work. If you think you need outside designs done as well, ask your contractor for the names of possible architects. But once you have an architect, you want the general contractor to go with you to every meeting with that architect so that the drawings and designs are done properly.

In doing a major remodeling project, you want to have at least three meetings with any general contractor you’re interested in hiring before you sign a contract. Be sure to visit the office of the contractor and visit some homes that the contractor has worked on.

When you have some good choices, ask yourself, “Who do I trust the most? Which contractor would I want to have on the job on the day that something goes wrong?” That’s because no matter how good the contractor is, something will go wrong, but your contractor should be able to deal with the issue.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 29 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning Rosie on the House radio program, heard locally from 8-11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson and from 9-11 a.m. on KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 888-767-4348.