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Sun, Aug. 25

Ask the contractor: Backwater valve regulations continue to confuse residents

I was a little late in changing my air filters this month but managed to complete that chore this past weekend. As a reminder, that is something you should all do monthly to prolong the life of your HVAC system.

Many of our readers are City of Prescott water and sewer users and are aware of the backwater value issue. In our column last week we answered several questions from callers. We have a couple of additional questions that came to us this past week.

Q: Do I need a backwater valve if I am on a septic system?

A: No. A backwater valve is not required on sewer lines connected to septic systems. Septic systems are completely separate sewer systems for individual properties that do not have other sewer flows connected to them to create a backflow situation.

Q: Can the City of Prescott file a lien against our property and/or business if we do not install a backwater valve?

A: No. A lien is a legal claim or a form of security on some form of property, making the property collateral against monies or services owed. We have heard but have not confirmed as yet that the City of Prescott can and is recording the executed "Hold Harmless" agreements against the property. This can possibly force any new owner of the property to be responsible for installing a backwater valve prior to the property transferring title, by lender requirements. This matter will be researched further through the City of Prescott legal department and the local Realtor association.

Again, YCCA and the City of Prescott have partnered to help you with any concerns you have on backwater valves. There are three upcoming seminars on this issue: 6 p.m. Feb. 24 at the Rowle P. Simmons Senior Center; 6 p.m. March 8 at the Grace Sparkes Activity Center on Gurley Street; and 2 p.m. March 16 at the Prescott Public Library Founders Room.

On to other reader questions received this week:

Q: What are your recommendations to unplug a drain? - Sue, Chino Valley

A: I have a horror story about a plugged drain. I hereby raise my right hand and vow to never, ever toss coffee grounds and 3 dozen hard-boiled eggshells down the garbage disposal ever again!

I thought garbage

disposals loved everything - is that not their mission, to chomp and chew? This event occurred on a Friday evening. Finally on Monday, I was able to call the plumber, and how happy I was when he got the garbage disposal functioning properly and purring like a cat.

Not every clog requires the expertise of a plumber. Here are a few tips that might save you should you experience a clogged drain.

The first remedy to try would be to pour boiling water very slowly down the drain. Sometimes this will dissolve the clogged debris. It may take one or two attempts. Another solution would be to pour a mixture of vinegar and baking soda down the drain. Pour 1/4 cup baking soda into the drain first and then pour in one cup of vinegar. Let this mixture stand about 20 minutes. If these two tricks do not clear the drain, then try a plunger or a plumber's snake.

It is important to remember to use cold water when running your garbage disposal. This prevents damage to the blades and will wash away the food particles. It is also important to remember to never, ever put oil, grease or fat in a sink drain.

Q: Is it OK to install a paver patio in the winter? - Gary and Michelle, Prescott

A: Yes. A common misconception is that pavers cannot be installed during our coldest winter months. This belief probably dates back to the old brick-and-mortar methods of installation, which did require warmer temperatures for the proper curing of the mortar. With today's materials, additives to the mortar solve this problem.

Interlocking paver systems can be installed at anytime of the year, regardless of the season. The only concern with installing pavers in the winter is with frozen ground. This is usually not an issue since dirt is typically removed to accommodate the proper paver base material.

In addition, our winter season in Yavapai County is typically mild enough that our soils do not freeze as they do in more extreme climates.

Winter is a great time to work on your paver and other hardscape projects since the construction is less disruptive when your yard is not in regular use. When spring arrives (in 49 days), you will have more time to enjoy your new pave project. - Chris Welborn, owner, Vicente Landscaping, Prescott

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We would love to hear from you: What are you doing to go green? Are you using fluorescent bulbs? Did you get an energy audit? Have you replaced your toilets? What "going-green" measures have you taken, and are these changes saving you money and making a difference? We want to share your experiences with our readers. How are you saving the planet?

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