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 systems. His goal is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona.
QUESTION: We bought a new house and have been living in it for about a year. Already there is a crack in the wall in a back room and the back door is swelling, which makes it hard to open. Our neighbors are having similar problems. We had the builder come out, but they’d like to wait for a while before they fix these problems. Is there something seriously wrong with the structure of the house?
ANSWER: If your neighbors are having the same kind of issues, it’s probably a design problem. In the meantime, while you’re waiting for the builder to return for repairs, take notes on everything that happened in the house and the date the problems occurred. That way you can make sure that the builder fixes things before your warranty runs out.
Q: Our screen door is very rusty and I want to repaint it. I don’t think we can spray it because it would be a monumental job to mask all the parts of the door that don’t need to be sprayed. We want to brush paint it instead. Unfortunately, we can’t find a rust-resistant paint to use that matches the current color. So what should we do?
A: Use some steel wool to get the rust off and then get a chip of the old paint off the door so that you can take it to the paint store. They can probably mix the color for you. But I’m also not sure that brush-painting your door will work properly as painting metal always leaves streaks. It’s also very possible that your door may have been powder-coated in the first place; in that case, it’s probably best that you have the door powder-coated again by a company that can do that process.
Q: My husband and I bought a house for $79,000 in a foreclosure sale during the recession. But the house is very outdated, and now we want to buy a new more up-to-date house. Should we sell it or keep it as an investment and rent it out?
A: If you can afford to hang onto it and rent it out, go ahead and do that. But if you decide to sell, don’t make any major improvements in your current house. Just do some decluttering and try to add a little curb appeal. You won’t recoup the money if you do a lot of expensive remodeling.
Q: I have a lemon tree that started producing lemons last year. But now it has five or six tall thorny shoots coming out of the trunk that are five feet taller than the other branches. Can I cut them off?
A: Yes, you can cut those shoots back to the point where they are attached to the trunk because they’re probably suckers growing out of the rootstock rather than branches of the true lemon tree itself. As you probably know, your lemon tree was grafted onto a rootstock in the nursery that it originally came from. If you’re afraid of over-pruning your tree in the process, don’t remove the branches until spring.
Q: I have olive trees in my yard, and I’m wondering if I can trim them now to prevent them from producing a lot of olives that I have to clean up and throw away.
A: You can do that now, but it’s best to spray them with a growth regulator in the spring to keep them from bearing all those messy olives. The spraying should be done after they start to flower and when their blossoms are wide open.