QUESTION: I have an issue with a bedroom in the house that is always very hot in the summer. I’ve just moved in, but my house was built in 2006. I know who the contractor is who did the work on the air ducts, and I think that improper installation is causing the problem. So, I want to know how I can get them to fix it or is it too late?
ANSWER: It never hurts to ask the builder for help, but it’s unlikely that you can get the building company to fix the problem. What you should do is have a whole house energy audit done anyway to determine what is causing the problem. If it is the ductwork, it’s probably a flex duct that is involved, and that should be pretty reasonable to fix.
Q: I have used a pre-emergent every spring for 20 years to kill weeds in my yard; it’s a brand I liked. But recently — the last two years — it hasn’t been as effective.
A: When we have a really wet winter and spring, like we had this year, you may have had to apply the pre-emergent at a different time. This year’s application may not have done too well because of the timing of the weather. It’s hard to know but they may have changed the product in some way. Another possibility is that the plants may have adapted to the product you were using. Of course, it’s never a good idea to apply too much pre-emergent. It can build up toxicity in the soil.
Q: I have old black irrigation tubing in my yard that is always breaking. Can I replace it with a more rigid PVC piping?
A: We are seeing a lot of this happening recently. The old drip tubing tends to wear out after 20 years. If you’ve lived in your house 15-20 years, it’s probably time to replace it; then you’ll get another 20 years out of it. You can use rigid piping, but it might be harder to install.
Q: I recently hired a contractor to fix the stucco on my house, which was experiencing a lot of cracking. The contractor hired a subcontractor to do the work, but I don’t think the work was what was required by the building code. For example, there was no weep screed installed for drainage at the bottom of the stucco. I need someone to fix it and tell me what went wrong.
A: You probably should hire a home inspector first to look at it and tell you if it’s up to code. If it isn’t, and the contractor won’t do anything about it, you need to report it to the state Registrar of Contractors. The ROC can take action in your case to get the problem fixed or order a refund provided that the contractor was licensed and registered.
Q: Why can’t people who have solar power in their homes store their excess power in batteries until they need to use it? And are those batteries safe to use?
A: Batteries that store excess energy from solar panels are often being used to power homes at times when the sun isn’t shining. It’s growing more and more popular and at least one power company is offering a limited rebate to homeowners who install batteries. They’re perfectly safe and thousands of batteries are now used all over the United States. Batteries are also a good solution for homeowners who want to live off the grid.