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 about home maintenance and improvement from Southern Arizona.
QUESTION: I recently planted a number of new bushes of different kinds. Some survived, but the bougainvilleas died. I’m wondering why that happened because I heard that bougainvilleas are very hardy plants.
A: Bougainvilleas are very hardy and can sometimes seem to flower more luxuriously the more that you neglect them. But that is not the case when you plant them. They are very sensitive to damage done to their root balls when they are planted. Could you have disturbed their roots when you put them in the ground? It’s time to take them out and plant new ones. But treat them very gently when you put them in the ground. Try to cut the sides of the pot off before you ease them in the hole that you have dug.
Q: I have a dwarf Meyer lemon tree in a pot, and its leaves are turning yellow. Why is that happening and what should I do about it?
A: You’re probably overwatering your plant; these lemons don’t like to sit with their feet in water. You should also be sure that you have planted it in good, loose soil. That way you can put your hand in the soil and tell if it’s moist. If you’re prone to water your lemon a lot, cut back on that. Water occasionally and give it some light fertilizer.
Q: We have three-tab asphalt shingles on our roof and some of the tabs have broken off on about a dozen of the shingles. I have no extra shingles to use as replacement. So can I spread some kind of coating on them to keep the roof from leaking?
A: That could work, but you need to talk to a roofer or hardware store about which coating would be the right product for your roof. Then all you have to do is broom the debris and dirt off the roof and spread the coating on top of the shingles. You don’t just want to put the coating on the broken shingles; put it all over the roof. But be sure that what you are going to spread on the roof won’t invalidate the warranty for your shingles.
Q: I moved into a house several months ago that has a grinder pump for its sewage system and I’m wondering if it could be the source of a strange odor that seems to permeate the house in warmer weather. I opened up the cover of the casing of the pump, which was apparently replaced recently, and I think a big hole had been cut in the top of the box where the grinder is housed. Would it help to seal the box?
A: That hole in the lid could well be the source of the problem. A grinder pump, of course, is a device that helps move wastewater from a house to the central sewer system or a septic tank. The wastewater goes through the home’s pipes and into a holding tank. Once wastewater reaches a certain level, the pump turns on, grinds the sewage and pumps it away. So replace the lid or repair the one you have to provide a tight seal for the odors.