Using softened water can improve the performance and lifespan of your washing machine.

QUESTION: We’re considering buying a water softening system for our house because due to hard water problems we can’t use powdered detergent. But what kind of softener should we buy? What about a system that treats the water by using magnets to treat and soften the water?

ANSWER: The problem with using a treatment system with magnets is that we’ve never found a third party independent testing agency that verifies that magnetizing water will work to permanently change the structure of your water. These systems pass the water through a field of tiny magnets as a nonchemical alternative to traditional water softening. Then the water sits in the pipes for an hour or two. Some experts contend that during the down time, the water reverts to its original condition. Furthermore, no major manufacturer has invested in producing these systems.

Q: We just bought our first house. It has a double door with dual pane windows in which blinds are sealed between the panes of glass. The system uses magnets to open and close the blinds. However, at some point, someone moved the blinds on the door to the up position, and we can’t move them down again. They’re stuck somehow. How can we have this fixed? We can’t seem to find the name of the original door manufacturer.

A: It’s unlikely that the door and blinds can be fixed, according to a blind repair company we talked to. It’s more likely that you will have to replace the whole door. Those blinds were inserted between the panes when the door was manufactured. Replacing the blinds would mean taking the molding and the glass to insert new blinds, and that process would be difficult and expensive to do.

Q: We’re finishing up a master bath remodel that has produced a lot of dust. We’re going to have a professional cleaner come in to do a thorough cleaning, but wondered if we should rent a portable air purifier as well.

A: Be sure to rent a purifier with a HEPA filter that can remove large particles of dust. Don’t use it though until you’ve had the professional cleaning done first; otherwise you might use up several filters on the purifier. You might also have your air duct vents cleaned, but it must be done by a professional who can also clean the coils in your HVAC system as well.

To improve the air quality on a more permanent basis, you can install an air scrubber plus purifier above your indoor air handler, that is located in an attic or closet. This device uses germicidal UV light wave technology to remove such pollutants as cigarette smoke, dust and pollen, mold, odor-causing bacteria, and pet and cooking odors.

Q: I have orange, grapefruit and lemon trees that have never been professionally pruned. But now a citrus tree is hitting the house and another is crowding a walkway. Should I prune now, or is it the wrong time?

A: March is generally the best time to prune citrus. But don’t cut the trees back too far, or you’ll open up areas that might expose the very sensitive bark to too much sun. The foliage might not have time to grow back before periods of intense summer sun and the trunk might be burned and damaged.

For more do-it-yourself tips, go to An Arizona homebuilding and remodeling industry expert for 29 years, Rosie Romero is the host of the Saturday morning “Rosie on the House” radio program, heard locally from 8-11 a.m. on KNST-AM (790) in Tucson and from 9-11 a.m. on KGVY-AM (1080) and -FM (100.7) in Green Valley.