Every year, thousands of Arizona residents email Rosie Romero's website or call his 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 his goals is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona.
Q: There seems to be a continuing overpopulation of mourning doves in my area. Any ideas or resources for getting rid of them would be helpful.
A: Mourning doves are among the most abundant birds in Arizona, according to the Arizona Game and Fish Department. As you have discovered, they can create quite a mess in your yard, including building nests on fans, light fixtures or ledges on your house.
Most homeowners who have a lot of doves generally have something that attracts them - a bird feeder or a birdbath or another source of water. Getting rid of that attractive item might help; it can also help if you diligently remove their nests whenever you find them. One problem you might also have is that when your snowbird neighbor goes away for the summer, the doves can move in unobstructed and start nesting. Maybe your neighbor can help you fight the problem.
Dove nests do tend to be very flimsy, and you probably find smashed eggs all over the yard. They can nest as much as seven times a summer; even though they lay only two eggs at a time, they're pretty prolific.
Q: Do you recommend installing gutters on a house in the Tucson area?
A: Yes, we do! Gutters with proper downspout and drains are vital to maintaining the stability of your foundation because they help keep standing water away from your home. They can prevent water from puddling up in front of doorways. You can also get a rain barrel to collect the runoff from those gutters so you can use it to water your plants. But don't let that water stand indefinitely or it could attract mosquitoes.
Q: Five years ago, we bought a new house, and, from the beginning, I could smell a sewerlike odor in the toilet area in the master bedroom. I had three different staff members from the builder come to check it out. They checked the toilet and the crawl space above the toilet and said everything was OK. I can still smell the odor but not all the time. Any idea what it is? My other toilet on the other side of the house has no problem.
A: Sometimes that semi-permanent smell in a bathroom really starts on your roof where your plumbing system has a vent. In many cases, the vent isn't tall enough. So when the southwest wind blows up from the Gulf of California, it blows those smelly gases across your roof and into your yard. The wind can even swirl around and blow methane gas back into your house through a window or through the vent itself.
This isn't just a problem for older homes. In fact, it can happen in new construction. I've even seen it in multimillion-dollar houses. But it can be fixed fairly easily. You need an extension on that vent pipe. That should do it, or you can add a charcoal filter to the vent to absorb the gases or an inline powered ventilating fan to blow them away.
Another simpler solution to your problem could be that you have a broken seal on the wax ring under your toilet. Have a plumber reset your toilet with a new wax ring, and it should stop any vapors that are escaping.
Q: I have some doors in a property that I own that have probably been painted over 50 times. How should I strip them down for refinishing?
A: You really should take a hard look at those doors and see if you want to go through that process. If I have one door that I want to strip, I'm perfectly willing to take it out to the garage, set it up on sawhorses and start applying the stripper. Then, I have to scrape and sand off the finish.
If I have two or three doors, however, I would take them to a dip shop to have the paint removed. In that case, you have to be sure that the doors are in good enough condition to take off and transport without falling apart. If you go ahead with the refinishing yourself, recognize that you will probably be dealing with lead paint if those doors are really old. So you need to follow stringent guidelines for taking off the paint and disposing of it. After considering all that, you might just order some new door blanks and start fresh.
For more do-it-yourself tips, go to rosieonthehouse.com. An Arizona home building and remodeling industry expert for 25 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 1-888-767-4348.