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.
Q: I’m a mother of four and I want to know if there’s any way I can cut back on the time my kitchen sink will be out of operation if I decide to remodel my kitchen. I’ve been told it would be out of service for two weeks.
A: You will probably lose the sink for at least two to three weeks, possibly longer depending on how much work will be done. Family meals will probably be disrupted while you remodel. Cook and freeze some food in advance and plan on eating off paper plates for a while.
It’s a different way to live and can be stressful. To avoid hassles and unnecessary delays, make sure you pick the “right” contractor. Before work starts, you want all materials for the remodel to be on hand. Also have the contractor give you a schedule for the work being done.
Q: I have a summer cabin in the mountains, and every fall I blow out the water lines for the winter and drain my water heater so they won’t be damaged by freezing temperatures in winter. I’m wondering if I could put in a tankless water heater so I wouldn’t have to drain my heater every year. I’m wondering if that would work for me. It’s an all-electric cabin.
A: Yes, you can put in a tankless water heater, but you’d also have to put in a water softener before adding the new heater. That’s because the extreme heat that the tankless unit uses in order to provide hot water quickly contributes to scale buildup due to the hard water in Arizona. Before homeowners started installing water softeners, the scale would build up so quickly, the tankless would need replacing every year.
Putting in a water softener besides the tankless unit would probably double your costs. You might pay from $5,000 to $8,000 to put in both units plus making possible electrical changes.
Q: I have seen some very tall tomato plants for sale in nurseries — a foot and a half tall. Are they too tall to plant? And if I do plant tomatoes, how long will they keep growing?
A: Don’t be hesitant to buy them. You can either dig a very deep hole or you can even dig a shallow trench and plant them horizontally. You just bend up the last few inches of the plant and keep it above ground. Be careful to pinch off the leaves that are going to be covered with soil.
Your tomatoes will keep producing until the monsoon season arrives or until it gets very hot. You can keep them growing, but basically, it’s not a very good idea to try to turn them into perennials. It’s probably better to tear them out when hot weather comes and plant sweet potatoes or something else that will be more productive.
Q: My queen palm is about 20-feet high, and it has a split running down the middle of the trunk. It’s not opening up the core of the plant, and the palm looks pretty healthy, but should I do something to control this fissure?
A: It’s probably just a cosmetic fissure, and it’s hard to know what might have caused it. Many people close these openings using insulation foam or some kind of plaster. But that’s really not necessary. You can, however, wrap the trunk with burlap to make it look better.