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: My home was built something like a tri-level on a sloped lot; you either go up from the middle level or down to another floor. The lower floor is about three feet below ground level. Recently, I’ve been seeing little cracks everywhere and little bumps in the floor. Does it mean I have a problem with the foundations of the house? Is water building up below the house? How could all that be fixed?
ANSWER: Before jumping to any conclusions about what’s going on, you need to have a structural engineer review the situation. It’s possible that there are expansive clay soils under your home that are causing these problems. But you need an expert opinion on the problem.
Q: I’m getting ready to have the exterior of my house repainted. But there are a lot of repairs on the wooden trim work that need to be done, too. I need a new front door plus the wooden ceiling on the covered patio needs repairs. Can the painter do all that?
A: Yes, you want those repairs done before repainting the house. It’s possible the painter can have some of that work done, but you should hire a handyman to do the work first.
Q: Can you change the outline of a basic rectangular swimming pool to something more exciting without having to tear the whole pool out first?
A: There are many changes you can make to modify existing swimming pools that will make them more exciting. You can change the rectangular shape and part of the basic outline of the pool. One of the most popular changes is to create an oversized second step at the pool’s shallow-end entrance that will allow for a standing area. Then you can sit on what some people call a “Baja shelf” and enter the water more gradually without full immersion. You can even set up lounge chairs there and put up umbrellas for shade. It’s a safer way to enter a pool than going down a ladder-like stairway or just jumping into the pool.
Q: I’m taking out two half-dead African sumac trees that were planted on the edge of our backyard patio. The patio is lined with bricks and some of the bricks have heaved up because of the sumac roots. So, how do I kill the root system once I remove the trees?
A: You could grind out the stumps mechanically to get below the roots. That will destroy the root ball. Sometimes we recommend just cutting the trees off low to the ground and having a contractor apply contact herbicide to the stump. The chemical will then travel into the root system of the tree. Don’t use the over-the counter products on your trees; you need to work with a licensed contractor who can apply the chemical safely and properly.