QUESTION: How do we get the black, tar-like adhesive off the concrete floor after a layer of old tile was removed? Our house was built in 1962, and we are remodeling the bathroom.
ANSWER: Due to the age of your home, it is possible that the type of the adhesive that is present may contain asbestos. Asbestos was used in many building projects prior to 1978. We recommend you contact a company licensed to test for asbestos and lead to have it tested. If it does contain hazardous materials, typically companies that test for hazardous materials can also do the removal.
Q: I have a horse that ate the bark off of a palo verde tree in my yard? Is that going to hurt the tree? The horse has never done that before.
A: It depends on how much of the bark that the horse ate. If the tree gets sunburned and the next layer of tissue is exposed somehow, it could start dying slowly. However, plants have the ability to compartmentalize the damage somehow. If the horse ate just a quarter of its way around the trunk, the palo verde will probably be OK. But if the bark has been eaten halfway around, maybe not. A younger tree might be OK; an older tree might have to be replaced.
Q: How do I get white tree paint off the trunk of a citrus tree?
A: Just buy a can of natural colored tree paint and paint over the white areas. It’s easier to cover them up, rather than trying to peel it off.
Q: Recently, I had a sewage leak that flooded my basement. It was caused by a hole in a sewer line. The insurance company got the basement dried out and fixed the line. They also pulled out a wooden floor. But they didn’t fix all the damaged flooring. Then they gave us a check for $4,000. But the area is still a wreck. I’m afraid to cash the check until everything is fixed because it might take more money. What should I do?
A: Some people might be afraid to cash the check, but if you are working with a quality insurance company, they should reopen the claim later if the repairs were extensive. But if you’re worried about the issue, get two estimates from adjusters about what repairs might really cost. Then you can present them to the insurance company.
Q: I have an issue with white flies infesting a grapevine in my yard. They’ve stopped now, but I’ve had them for a couple of months. I mixed some dish soap and water and sprayed the vines with the mixture. I got rid of the flies, but the leaves shriveled up. What do I do next?
A: Using soap as an insecticide can wither the leaves and damage a plant. But this is also the time when leaves shrivel up. Clean up the foliage. But don’t do anything about the bugs until new growth begins in spring. There are organic or light oil sprays that will get rid of the bugs.
Q: Is using washable air filters a good idea for my air conditioning system?
A: In general, washable AC filters are not recommended. Our certified partners in the HVAC business advise that reusable filters get dirtier over time and that there is no good way for homeowners to clean them thoroughly. That can lead to air flow restrictions to your air conditioner that can affect how the system functions. You’re better off using disposable filters and changing them regularly.