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.
QUESTION: I have a 40-year-old house which has insulation that now needs replacing. I would like to do it myself, and I’m thinking about buying batts of insulation that you can roll out. I want to know more about how to put it into my attic.
ANSWER: I’d like to encourage you to go with blown-in insulation instead. It’s a lot easier to do and it’s also easier to get it right. With blown-in insulation, you simply rent a blowing machine and spray it in. Just be sure not to block any of the vents. If you make a mistake with rolled out insulation, it can greatly reduce the efficiency of the product. With blown-in insulation you will achieve a much better blanket of protection, eliminating voids and missed areas.
Q: I have a mesquite tree that I planted as a sapling about a year ago. It has grown well, but the trunk is covered with too many branches so it doesn’t look like a real trunk. As the tree grows, the bottom branches are still there. Can I prune off some of them?
A: Yes, you can prune them, but only take off a few of the lower limbs. You don’t want to take off too many or you might expose the trunk to too much sun, and that wouldn’t be good for the tree.
Q: What does it mean when a house is built with rammed earth walls?
A: Typically, when using rammed-earth construction, forms are built that are one-foot thick and then filled with a mixture of gravel, sand, silt and clay. You will end up with finished walls that resemble those built by Native Americans in the Southwest. One advantage of this building style is that the temperature inside the walls is naturally considerably cooler than the air outside the house.
Q: Our laundry room, which is about 5 feet by 6 feet, is always the coolest room in the whole house during the summer. I was wondering if I can solve this problem and get more air conditioning into the rest of the house by closing off the vent in that room?
A: If you completely close the laundry room vent, you will restrict air flow into the duct system and the air conditioner will ramp up to try to send more air than ever into the laundry room. You probably need to have an AC technician look at your system and install a balancing damper in your ductwork at the spot where a duct splits off to go into the laundry room. That way you can divert the air flow to the rest of the house.
Q: My husband and I have been debating whether we need to clean our air ducts? You see a lot of offers in the mail for discounts on this service. Can it reduce the amount of dust inside your house?
A: There are a lot of cleaning companies of various kinds that will do your ducts for under $100. All they do is open up your registers and vacuum out some dust. But for an effective duct cleaning, you need to hire a qualified air conditioning installer. AC companies will remove the registers and air intakes and clean the ducts, but will also get into the air-handling cabinet where the coil is located as well. They clean the coil and treat it for bacteria and dry it out. Then you need to start using the right kind of air filter in your air intakes. A one-inch paper filter is best. Of course, the price can be considerably higher to do all this.