Note to readers: Every year, thousands of Arizona residents email our website or call our radio show with questions about everything from how to prevent fires in their chimneys to what to do about the tree roots invading their sewer systems.
One of our goals is to provide homeowners with answers that suit their specific lifestyles, whether it is in Northern, Central or Southern Arizona. You can see that in this column focusing on questions we have received about home maintenance and improvement in the Tucson area.
Question: We remodeled a barn on our property that was previously used for storage to use as a guesthouse. It has wood siding and the woodpeckers are destroying it! They have pecked holes through into the insulation and are pulling it out! We live in the Tanque Verde Valley.
Answer: It's a mystery why woodpeckers find it necessary to peck holes in siding or chimneys. The most common theories are that they are searching for insects and/or establishing their territory for mating rituals. Regardless, woodpeckers are a migratory non-game bird protected by the state and federal wildlife departments and therefore should not be harmed.
Here are some methods that have helped other homeowners; you can find others on our website:
• Fill a spray bottle with water and Tabasco sauce. Then spray the area where the woodpecker is doing damage. Woodpeckers typically do not like hot sauce and will remember never to peck that area again after trying it once.
• Hang thick plastic over the damaged areas of the building and other likely areas the woodpecker may seek out; the slick surface of the plastic will prevent any woodpecker from landing on the siding. Note: this is only a temporary solution.
• If you have not had this guesthouse treated for insects lately, you may be supplying the woodpecker with ample food. Call an exterminator to treat the area for pests.
• Hang strips of aluminum foil or Mylar tape from the eaves so that they can hang freely over the siding.
Q: I live in an older mobile home. I had tile put in years ago and most of the tiles cracked; they are still cracking. I have put other flooring in some rooms. But is there a way I can add more support under the home and if so, who would do that? Also could you have radon in a mobile home?
A: The flooring in mobile homes is notorious for being unable to support a rigid, inflexible surface such as tile. Any movement at all is a bad thing for tile. It may work out that it will be less expensive to change to a flooring material that is more forgiving than to pay to have the floor reinforced. A builder or remodeler can also address your question about radon, but the short answer is yes: Radon can get into mobile homes if the foundation conditions are just right.
Q: About two years ago, we bought a new high-efficiency washer and dryer. Every time the washer fills, you can hear the water lines kicking in the walls. Now it's everywhere in the house. How can I fix this; can I install shock absorbers? Hopefully, I don't have to cut open the wall to re-strap the pipes.
A: Typically, there is an unsecured pipe in your home that is coming in contact with a stud in the wall where what is called the water hammer takes place. A plumber should install air gaps or an expansion tank at the water heater to soften or eliminate the hammer effect. You also need to check for high water pressure at the hose bib closest to the water service entrance. Install a pressure regulating valve if your pressure is more than 70 pounds per square inch.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona homebuilding and remodeling-industry expert for 35 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the syndicated Saturday morning "Rosie on the House" radio program, heard locally from 8 to 11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) and -FM (97.1) in Tucson and KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley. Call 888-767-4348.