QUESTION: I live in a home in Oro Valley and have a problem getting hot water for the kitchen and a spare bedroom-bathroom that are farther away from the hot water heater. Is this a problem that is easy to fix?
ANSWER: Yes, that’s a pretty easy problem to resolve. A plumber can put a recirculating manifold under the water fixture that is farthest away from the water heater and a recirculating pump at the water heater. That will keep hot water available at all fixtures, pretty much on demand. You’ll need an electric outlet installed close to the water heater so you can plug in the pump.
Q: After a visit to a home show, I have wondered if I should spray the inside of my air ducts with a sealer to keep them from leaking. The problem is that my utility bills are $350 a month in summer for a 1,500-square-foot home kept at 80 degrees in the hot season. It’s an all-electric home with a swimming pool, and we spend about $150 to $160 in winter on utilities. We had a whole house energy audit that didn’t find much in the way of duct leakage.
A: It’s a little expensive to spray-seal ducts. If the audit didn’t show much of a problem, you’ll probably never get back your investment in duct sealing from lower energy bills. You could invest in other upgrades that can give a better return on your money. Of course, sometimes duct sealing is the only feasible answer. For example, if your ducts are in soffits and can’t be reached easily, a spray might work. But if your ducts are sitting exposed in the attic, they could move the insulation back to repair the leaky ducts for much less.
Q: I have a 5-year-old red oak tree recently transplanted from a spot in the yard with poor heavy caliche soil to another area of better soil where it was doing very well. But while we were on vacation, the person who was supposed to water the tree forgot to do it. Now the bark is peeling off the tree. Can we bring the tree back or is it dying? Should I wrap the trunk to protect it from the sun?
A: Sometimes a tree can recover from that, but once the bark flakes off, the cambium layer of growing tissue isn’t functioning any more. Now the tree has a compromised vascular system, and it will be hard for the tree to survive and foliage will die back. Wrapping the tree is a possible solution, but you have to wait some time to see if the tree can heal.
Q: A year ago, I bought a new house and the backyard apparently wasn’t properly graded. We’ve had standing water — like a lake — due to the recent rain. I contacted the builder, but they haven’t taken care of it. It’s in a built-out subdivision. What should I do?
A: When the developers built your subdivision, they submitted a plan to the city indicating that they would contain all the rain water inside the subdivision. Every lot has to store or use the water that falls on it. You can’t regrade the lot to send the water to other yards. You have to contain it on your lot. They may solve the problem with gutters and seepage areas. But to get the builders’ help, put your complaint in writing and deliver it by certified mail. That will get their attention. Be assured there is a solution.