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: Four years ago, I planted a peach tree that has grown up to be very tall and very skinny – maybe 20 feet fall and a few inches in diameter. How should I prune this tree so it will be easier to pick the fruit?
A: You want to prune it quite a bit so that when it grows again, all the fruit will come in on branches that are about 8 feet to 12 feet off the ground. Some people prune their peach trees even more than that. Try to space cuts on branches so that they spread out evenly around the trunk. If you prune enough, it will probably increase in diameter as well.
Q: This past Christmas, I noticed my neighbors were using aluminum foil to protect connections between strings of lights when they were plugged into each other. Does that make it safer to plug strings together?
A: They’re probably trying to prevent the connections from getting wet if it rains and maybe shorting out. Instead of using aluminum foil, you might wrap a few layers of electrical tape around the plug-to-receptacle connection.
However, if you live in a home that has been built in the last 10 years or so, code required that it be equipped with GFCI or ground fault circuit interrupters for outdoor electrical outlets. In that case, if a connection gets wet, the GFCI will detect the moisture and shut down the lights automatically to prevent electrical damage. When stringing lights together, check the manufacturer’s instructions for how many strands to plug together.
Q: I am having some windows and sliding glass doors replaced, and the company doing the work also suggested replacing my doors with fiberglass doors. I’d never heard of that before; do they work as well as wood?
A: Fiberglass doors can work very well. They look a lot like wood, and they don’t have the maintenance problems that wood can have. Wooden doors often have to be re-oiled and re-stained regularly.
Q: I’ve heard about the super-cooling method used to reduce electric bills in summer. I know that in summer, it calls for running the air conditioner more during the off-peak pricing period to chill your furniture and walls. But can you do the same thing in winter by super-heating your house so you can reduce your electric heating bill?
A: I suppose you can, but transferring super-cooling to super-heating is not practical. Would you really want to move your thermostat up to 90 degrees or more during the low-peak pricing period for electrical power and then turn the thermostat way down during the high peak time? That practice may make your home overly warm.
Q: I want to take off the sheetrock on the ceilings of my covered patio and expose the beams underneath. Will that work?
A: Using sheetrock on the ceilings of covered patios has become a common building trend in the past 20 years or so. The problem is that the sheetrock can suffer damage over time, particularly if there’s a leak in the patio roof. But if you remove the sheetrock, you’re not going to have much to look at overhead – perhaps it will be just a bunch of unfinished rafters and plywood. You may want to visit some lumber companies to find out about paneling products that you can use instead. You can also use plywood and paint, stain or oil it.