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 system. His goal is to provide answers that suit the specific lifestyle wherever someone lives in Arizona. Here are questions about home maintenance and improvement from the Southern Arizona area.
QUESTION: I just bought a house and have a tree stump that is about three feet tall located in the yard fairly close to the house. Should I remove it or will the process tear up the yard completely? But if I don’t remove it, will the roots keep growing and cause problems with water and sewer pipes?
ANSWER: There are ways of removing the stump with the use of a precision grinder that can take the stump down to the ground level or even below the ground. Newer grinders will not cause major disruption in the rest of your yard. If a hole is created during the removal, debris from the tree can be pulverized and mixed with native soil to fill in the area so that you won’t experience any sink holes or low spots in your landscape.
Grinding and removing the stump and much of what is below it is very important if the tree that was taken out has very invasive roots. With a palm tree, for example, roots can continue to grow and cause problems.
Q: I live in a 22-year-old house in northwest Tucson, and it’s reached the point where everything in the house needs replacing. I did two-thirds of my windows, I have put a solar electric system in my roof, and now I’m getting ready to replace the heating and air conditioning system. My question is: Should I go with a split system with a gas furnace like the one I have right now or should I switch to an electric heat pump system that I think could save me more money on utilities?
A: I think that if you’re used to heating with a gas furnace, getting used to an electric heat pump will take you a while in winter. If you’re used to getting up on one of our cold winter mornings and turning the thermostat up a couple of degrees until the house warms up for a while, you need a gas furnace.
Q: After years of buying and then throwing away disposable air filters for my heating and air conditioning intake registers, I’m wondering if I should buy those reusable filters that you wash off periodically. It seems less wasteful and might save money. What do you think?
A: The best thing to use in your HVAC system is a one-inch-thick paper pleated filter that sells for about $4 or $5. The problem is that washing off one of these reusable filters does not get rid of all the dust building up on them and nothing shortens the life of your air conditioner like the build-up of dust. It’s also tough to remove the mold and mites on the surfaces of reusable filters.
You would have to scrub the filters with antimicrobial cleaner to do so. You also need to be sure that a reusable filter is thoroughly dry before reinserting it in the intake area. Keep in mind, that if you have a fairly new air conditioning system, you don’t need to change those disposable filters as often as you do with old equipment.