Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Rosie Romero’s radio show. 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 the Tucson area.
Q: I have some space on the south side of my home where I want to plant a tree to throw shade on the house. But I don’t have much space because I also park my recreational vehicle in that area. How close to the house can I plant a tree? I’m thinking of putting the tree in a spot that is about 5 to 7 feet away. Is that OK?
A: Since your space is limited, you might think about planting a shrub. Many shrubs can get fairly tall and also don’t have the intrusive roots that can cause trouble with the plumbing or the foundation of a house. A Japanese privet would be a good choice or our native hopseed bush. Another option might be a putting in a trellis and covering it with honeysuckle or star jasmine vines that would shade your home.
Q: What should I use to wash the inside of our clothes washing machine? It’s starting to have a musty odor.
A: A moldy or musty smell in washing machines can be caused by overusing detergents or liquid fabric softener. The suds of these chemicals build up inside the machine. To get rid of the odor, run an empty machine on the hottest setting with one cup of bleach or two cups of white vinegar added to the water. This should deodorize and disinfect your machine. Then run the machine again with a load of plain water to rinse out the vinegar odor. If you have a front-loading machine, you can also wipe off the rubber gasket with a cloth soaked in bleach or vinegar. Then dry off the gasket as well with a clean cloth.
Q: Some friends have been thinking of installing new windows, and by coincidence, someone came to their door and offered to install new triple pane vinyl windows at what seems to be a 30 percent discount. I didn’t think that was a very good idea; what do you think?
A: I don’t think it’s a good idea either. To begin with, triple-pane windows are very expensive and not necessary for any location in Arizona that’s below the Mogollon Rim. The extra insulation you might gain will not save you enough in utility bills to make up for the cost. But most important, anytime someone is going door to door trying to sell you something at a discount, you should run away as fast as you can.
Q: I have a 3-year-old home with two air conditioners that were installed by a local contractor when the house was built. Recently, we found that the AC was not running cold enough to cool off the house. The contractor that installed the units says the warranty for the units covers parts for five years and only one year for labor. I would use them for the repairs, but they can’t come out for a long time. If I hire another contractor to do the repairs and they have to add Freon or install new parts, can I pay for the labor of the new contractor but send the bill for the parts or Freon to the original installer and be reimbursed?
A: I seriously doubt that you can succeed with this plan, although I admit you may not be getting proper attention and service. Probably, you should try more persistently to get the original contractor to come out to your house or you should try contacting the builder.