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 from the Tucson area.
I want to replace a light fixture with a ceiling fan. The light mount box needs to be replaced with a ceiling fan mount. The light box is nailed into wood supports on three sides. There is not enough room to get a tool into the light box to remove the nails. How can this light box be removed without cutting a large hole in the ceiling?
A: Replacing a light fixture with a new ceiling fan is a fairly difficult do-it-yourself project. The problem you mention is a common one and is only one of several issues you will face in this project.
Possibly you can go up in the attic to remove the current electrical box from above, or you may be able to cut off the nails with a hacksaw blade. You also have to be sure to provide proper support for the fan which is likely to be much heavier than the old light was. It’s required that fan boxes be secured by mounting them to the ceiling joists. Considering all of these issues, installing a ceiling fan in your home is a job that probably should be done by a licensed electrician.
Some repairman told me that the supports on the air conditioner on my roof should be replaced. Currently, there are metal legs on the AC that are resting on two-by-fours. This repair man said that the two-by-fours are inappropriate and that the supports should be all metal. Of course, he is offering to do the job to fix this. My roof is the normal built-up style on a ranch house. What do you think of his advice? And how much should such a job cost?
A: Isn’t it comforting to know that so many companies out there are trying to “help” you? Unless you are having trouble with the current mounting system, there really isn’t any need to do anything like that to the supports. The next time you have your roof checked or your AC serviced, ask those workers to check to be sure the wood supports are still in good shape. If they are not, remember that a pressure-treated two-by-four at the lumber store costs less than $5. So if you need to replace the current wooden supports, you can even buy those two-by-fours yourself at minimal cost. Have the lumber store cut them to the right length and give them to the repair company for the replacement.
Q: I need to paint the exterior of my house, which has some chunks of stucco on it that are coming loose. What sort of conditioning do I need to do to the stucco before painting? I am going to have a contractor do the job, but wanted to go into negotiations with an idea of what’s involved.
A: It all depends on what shape the stucco is in. Most painting contracts call for filling cracks with elastomeric caulk and patching spots where stucco is damaged. But sometimes you need more work than that, for example, on the parapets that surround a flat roof where the summer sun can really damage the stucco. You may need a plastering company to come in and re-stucco those areas before the paint job, particularly if you have not repainted for about 10 years. Your painter may be able to suggest someone to come in and do the job if the extent of the repairs exceeds his or her abilities.