Each year, thousands of Arizona residents email or call Rosie Romero’s radio show with questions about everything from preventing chimney fires to getting rid of tree roots in their sewer systems. 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 Tucson area.
QUESTION: The drains at my mother’s home, built in 1972, keep getting plugged up. She had hired a plumbing company to clean out the tree roots that had invaded the sewage pipes. Then they recommended inserting perma-lining in the pipe that runs from the house out to the street – about 60 or 70 feet of piping. The idea is that the lining will stick to the pipes and prevent new problems. The price would be about $10,000. Should she do this?
ANSWER: The price does seem high, but it’s possible that it could cost that much. The alternative, of course, would be to rip up the yard and run a new pipe out to the street. The problem is that if she has a lot of mature trees with big roots in the yard, it’s possible that they could invade the pipe all over again. You need to have another qualified plumber come in and give you another estimate of what it would cost to fix this problem and whether it will work.
Q: How do I get rid of moles in my yard? For the first time in 18 years, we’ve got them and they’re tearing up everything.
A: There are a several methods you may use to take care of this issue, and it might mean using several tactics to get rid of your moles. You also have to get your neighbors to cooperate in the effort because moles can move into the neighboring yards and then back to yours again. You can trap and kill them; you can put poisoned grain down their holes. You can use traps to catch them and then release them elsewhere in the desert. You can use mouse traps. You can flood their holes with a mixture of soap and cayenne pepper.
Q: I have a beautiful nine-year-old palo verde tree in my yard. But a couple spots on the tree keep weeping sap in sticky puddles. What could be causing this problem?
A: It’s hard to say without looking at the tree. You should either call an arborist or take some photos to a local nursery and ask them what they think the problem is. There are many possible causes for why this keeps happening. It could be because the tree is infected with a fungus; it could be because the tree was pruned recently. It’s also possible that the tree is simply doing this because it is growing older.
Q: I live in a house that was built in 1987 and that has polybutylene piping. I have lived in it for 15 years and had no trouble with the pipes, but people keep telling me that I should replace them. What should I do?
A: Polybutylene piping was used extensively for water pipes from the 1980s to mid-1990s in homes all over the country. It is believed that oxidants in public water supplies, such as chlorine, react with the pipes and their fittings, causing them to become brittle and break. Every place this piping was installed, they ended up working improperly and failing. Although you’ve had no problems so far, you need to have an experienced plumber look at it and give you a proposal for re-plumbing with copper or PEX piping.
Q: I have heard people say that if you water at night in the winter, you can help protect your plants from freezing. They also say that if you water during the peak heat in summer, you can burn your plants. Are these theories true? Or are they urban myths?
A: There is some truth to both statements. If you water at night when it’s cold outside, you can help protect your plants because moist soil holds the heat of the day better than dry soil does. But you still have to cover your plants to protect them from freezing.
As for the summer months, you want to finish your watering in the yard before the sun comes up. That’s mainly because it’s wasteful to water in the heat of the day when moisture will evaporate quickly. Some people also say that during extreme heat, water drops sitting on plants can act like magnifying glasses on leaves and burn holes in the plant. But I’ve never actually seen that happen myself and some scientific studies have debunked that theory.