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 in their sewers. One of his goals is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona.
QUESTION: I use an expensive filter for my air conditioner intake because it is washable. I have been using the same one for about a year. Is that OK?
ANSWER: We strongly recommend sticking to the 1-inch pleated paper filters that cost about $4 each and that have to be changed more frequently. The type that you are describing is somewhat heavier and can be very restrictive about airflow into your heating and air-conditioning system. It can end up making your AC work much harder. We often compare it to making an athlete run a marathon while breathing through only a straw. Your unit needs to be able to "breathe" in and out of your home in order to work correctly and efficiently. Sometimes it is also difficult to properly clean those washable filters.
Q: In 2007, I bought a new manufactured home that has an electric water heater. I have never done anything with it as far as draining it because everyone told me that I didn't need to do that.
A: It is recommended by manufacturers that you flush out your water heater one time per year. It's especially important because of the hardness of the water in Arizona. Getting that hard water residue flushed out can help maintain your heater's life span. However, after five years of no maintenance, heaters tend to develop such a heavy sediment layer that if you try to flush them, you might end up causing a problem. At this point, I would advise against doing it; just remember to do it in the next heater you buy.
Q: For many years in a previous home, I had a special garage door lock that I attached to the top of the door to frustrate any intruder who tried to tamper with my garage door opener. I haven't been able to find one like it anywhere. Have you ever heard of anything like that?
A: I have not seen any lock like that. But frankly, I advise homeowners to remove the special emergency cord that you usually use to disengage the garage door opener so that you can then open the door manually (the problem is that it's not foolproof). Once you remove the cord, you need to put an eyehook screw on a wooden dowel and store it in the garage where you and your family can find it. Then you can use that hook to tug on the release of the automatic opener so you can get the door open if the power goes out or the automatic opener breaks down.
Q: I have a couple of really nice large palms that seem to be dying. I think they are Canary Island date palms. The trees are about 2 to 3 feet in diameter. They have suffered a lot the last couple of years in the really cold winters we've had and most of their fronds have turned brown and dried up. The only part that is still green is in the middle where the little fronds are coming out. Can I save these trees or will they die?
A: It sounds as if these trees will probably survive. They're only dead if those middle areas stop producing green leaves. You need to leave those green fronds on the tree as long as possible, even if they're only partly green. They will help the palm recuperate by putting sugars back into the tree. One more thing to try: Take a quick photo of the palms to a local nursery and ask them what they think of their health. Maybe they can give you more advice.
An Arizona homebuilding 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 8-11 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. For more tips, visit rosieonthehouse.com