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: The Tucson Water Department wrote to me to say the city wants to replace my water meter but does not trust the durability of my plumbing. They won’t replace the meter until after I replace the water supply line from the meter to the house. It’s because that pipe could be too old. My house was built in 1972 and the line is probably made of copper. What do I do next?
ANSWER: Those letters are being sent out to homeowners all over Arizona because officials are afraid that the old lines may be disintegrating. That possibly may be your problem, too. But you ought to get a plumber out to your house to look at your pipeline before you do anything else. A plumber will have to dig down about two or three feet to inspect your pipe. But you might find that your line still has lots of life in it; then you can forgo the replacement. You can notify the city about that if the pipe seems OK. But if the city proceeds and your line breaks when they install that new meter, you will have to repair it.
Q: I want to transplant a 5-foot-tall saguaro cactus that has no arms from my friend’s yard to my own garden. Can I do that, and how do I do that?
A: You can transplant the saguaro, but there are several points to remember. First, carefully mark the cactus so that when you put it in the ground it is facing in the same direction as it is now. You can put a chalk mark or a tag, for example, on the side of the plant that is facing south. Then you can ensure that you have the cactus in the right position when you replant. If it’s facing the wrong way, it could eventually develop a scar or sunburn on one side of the saguaro.
Dig a hole large enough for the root system. Then set the cactus in place and put the native soil back around the cactus. Don’t water it at this time or root damage may take place. Let nature provide the water for the plant with the next rain.
Although a 5-foot cactus is not very tall, working with it is not a one-man or one-woman job. Two or three people should work on moving it out of the ground. Get a large piece of carpeting to wrap around it several times, so that when you dig it out, it won’t get cut or damaged in the process. If you have to take it on the road in a vehicle, you may need to get permission in advance from the state Department of Agriculture because a saguaro is a protected plant. You might also talk to a local nursery for more advice on how to get the plant out of the ground.
All of this might seem like a lot of trouble, but saguaros are quite expensive if you have to buy them. A 5-foot saguaro could cost you $500 to $600 from a nursery.
Q: I recently had my septic tank pumped out and cleaned. When it was empty, they found a big tree root in the bottom of the tank. How do I get rid of it and should I put some compound or chemical in the tank to keep it from happening again?
A: You really need to have a septic tank company come out and work on this problem. That root must be cut out and removed and then the area where the root entered the tank has to be repaired and resealed. If left alone, that root could keep growing and crack the tank. Most septic tank experts, however, advise against using any chemicals in your tank to keep plants out.