Are There More Where That Came From?

How to know when one pest is actually many

Finding a single pest might be just a fluke, but it might also be a sign of a serious infestation that needs professional attention. Once settled in a new home, roaches, ants, termites and other small pests get to work on expanding their colonies. Multiplying at a fast rate in a constrained space means that a few occupants will be accidentally squeezed out and left to wander your floors and walls in plain sight. Below, we’ve put together a handy pest-by-pest guide to help you learn how to tell the difference between an evicted resident and a random passerby.

Roaches

Roaches love hiding in dark and moist crevices, so you’ll need to do a little investigating to make sure that one roach isn’t a displaced member of a larger colony. Faucets, electrical appliances, hollow wall cavities, door frames, drains and cracks in furniture are … Read Full Post »

History Lesson: Five Times Bugs Changed the World

The impact of pests on human history

Whether you’re afraid of them or fascinated by them, it’s safe to say that bugs have had a big impact on the world around you. In fact, they’ve been responsible for everything from widespread deadly diseases to providing sustenance for soldiers. Learning the history of some of these pests can help showcase one of the many factors that have helped shape our culture, and it can also point out the importance of calling a professional pest control company when certain insects decide to become unwanted tenants in your home.

Five History-Changing Bugs

1. Oriental Rat Fruit Flea

Many people erroneously believe that rats were solely responsible for the Black Death bubonic plague that killed approximately 75 million people during the 14th century. However, scientists have discovered that the oriental rat fruit flea is actually the prime culprit for this massive loss of life. The fleas were infected … Read Full Post »

Beat the Heat: What Summer Means for Your Pipes

Plumbing trouble isn’t just a cold-season phenomenon

Winter isn’t the only season that can wreak havoc on your pipes. In central Texas, the mercury exceeds 100 degrees on dozens of days per year, and an unprepared plumbing system can take a serious hit as a result. Below, we outline some of the most common hot-season plumbing problems and offer some common-sense tips for dealing with them.

Sweating Pipes

When the weather warms up, your skin isn’t the only thing that sweats. Poorly insulated pipes can “sweat” excess water and create serious leaks that eventually threaten the integrity of your ceilings or floors. Due to contraction in the pipes themselves, sweating pipes that are already constrained by clogs can suffer catastrophic backups.

Sewer Backups

Although summer tends to be a fairly dry season in central Texas, occasional thunderstorms and unseasonable rains can cause unexpected sewer backups that devastate your home’s lower levels or yard. Likewise, tree … Read Full Post »

More Than a Trickle, Less Than a Flood: Achieving the Perfect Water Pressure

It’s not as hard as it sounds!

We’ve all been there before. You turn on your faucet or shower and are blindsided by a deluge of fluid that practically knocks you off your feet. Alternatively, you’re greeted with a pathetic trickle that’s barely enough to get your skin wet. In either case, your home’s water pressure needs adjusting—and fast. While this might seem like a task for a professional plumber, it’s possible to do on your own. Your family is sure to thank you for it.

How Can You Adjust Water Pressure on Your Own?

Every residential structure that doesn’t use groundwater is outfitted with a pressure regulator that protects its water system from the industrial-strength flow of water through municipal pipes. This reduces the average flow into your home from about 200 psi—an extreme torrent—to about 50 psi. However, various factors can interfere with this flow, and your regulator can fail as … Read Full Post »

Central Texas Drought May Be Producing Mutant Mosquitoes

The newly improved pests bring bigger bites and fatter bodies to your backyard

For homeowners in Central Texas, the ongoing drought has many ramifications. Drought conditions change the way you maintain your lawn and use water in your home. They may even impact your pocketbook at the grocery store, where the effects of droughts across the nation are seen in food prices. You might be surprised to learn that the drought is also having an intriguing impact on one of the state’s most hated pests, the mosquito.

Are Mutant Mosquitoes Biting in Your Backyard?

Mosquitoes, known for their irritating bites, rely on water sources in order to lay eggs and maintain their populations. In fact, these bothersome pests are often found in areas with standing water such as still streams and backyard puddles. For many homeowners, the ongoing drought seems like the perfect solution to burgeoning mosquito populations.

Unfortunately, this just isn’t the case. … Read Full Post »

Fire Ants and Crazy Ants Battle for the Throne in Texas

Who will win?

Residents throughout the Austin area and southeast Texas have grown accustomed to the problems that are associated with fire ants, most notably their notorious stinging bite. However, recent research indicates that a newer invasive species commonly referred to as the “crazy ant” is currently locked in a struggle for superiority with fire ants. In fact, entomologists believe that crazy ants might eventually win this territorial fight, and this isn’t as positive of a possibility as some people might believe.

What Is a Crazy Ant?

The scientific name for crazy ants is Paratrechina longicornis, and some Texas residents refer to them as Raspberry crazy ants. This invasive species originated in South America just like fire ants, and these pests have an unusual defense mechanism against their natural enemy. Fire ants typically spray venom to defend themselves against other ants and bugs, but this venom doesn’t usually kill crazy ants. Instead, a … Read Full Post »

We’re One of Only Eight AC Contractors in Austin to Receive the Energy Star Century Club Award

Prestigious award announced by the U.S. Department of Energy

ABC Home & Commercial Services in Austin has been providing our valued customers with HVAC repairs and a diverse selection of other services since 1949, and we’re pleased to be one of the recipients of the 2013 Century Club Award. This award is indicative of our dedication to providing our clients with the absolute best eco-friendly options. We believe that educating our customers about Energy Star-rated AC products is a critical aspect of enabling them to save money and reduce their negative impact on the environment.

What Is the Century Club Award?

The Century Club Award is intended to honor businesses that meet specific criteria established by the U.S. Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and the Home Performance with Energy Star Program. In order to qualify for this award, ABC Austin needed to be able to demonstrate that we had improved … Read Full Post »

Austin’s Climate Affects Your Budget in a Big Way

Hot summer days bring oppressive electric bills

The city of Austin is known for its beautiful parks, thriving economy and exciting music events. Unfortunately, it also has a seasonal climate that produces costly and unpredictable utility bills. High temperatures regularly exceed 100 degrees during the summer, yet they can fall below freezing in December and January.

Hot Weather

Austin’s lengthy summer persuades just about everyone to use air conditioning. During 2011, some parts of the state capital reached 100 degrees on 90 separate days. Extremely hot weather seldom occurs before June or after September. Nonetheless, the Bergstrom International Airport once reported a 100-degree reading in February!

Central Texas summers aren’t just hot. This area also endures greater humidity than the Lone Star State’s more arid locales, such as El Paso and Lubbock. Austin’s skies often remain clear in July and August, adding extra heat to the upper floors of many buildings. The local power … Read Full Post »

Savvy Strategies for Creating the Ultimate Backyard Oasis

Easy landscaping options that work

It’s fun to sit on the deck and imagine converting the backyard into a peaceful, personal retreat. If those daydreams include minimum work, natural beauty and creative touches, why not turn them into realities? With a few smart strategies, you can easily upgrade that simple backyard into the ultimate Hill Country oasis.

Keep Plans Simple

The secret to a successful backyard makeover is simplicity. This strategy lets you design an inviting getaway that doesn’t require constant upkeep. Start with a plan that breaks that square yard out of the box. Create colorful corridors with bright containers that define space and raise your gardening above ground level. Soften fence corners with feathery shrubs like aromatic Texas sage and fast-growing artemisia. Plant paving stones in that shady spot under the live oak, and turn it into your favorite outdoor reading room. Work with what you have, and enjoy the path … Read Full Post »

Put Down the Bleach: How Cleaning Compounds Can Kill Your Dishwasher

You count on your dishwasher to cut down on your workload. If your dishwasher doesn’t seem to be providing the same level of service as it did before, it’s time to evaluate the products you’ve been using. After all, some dishwasher problems are caused by using the wrong types of detergent or cleaner. Thankfully, avoiding these issues is as simple as making sure that you’re selecting the right products to care for your dishwasher.

Are You Using the Right Cleaners in Your Dishwasher?

No matter how new or old your dishwasher is, using the right types of detergents and cleaning products is key to ensuring its efficiency, performance and longevity. When choosing a detergent, you should always look for a product that’s clearly labeled for use in dishwashers. These may take the forms of liquids, gels, powders or self-contained packs. All of these types of detergent are completely safe for use in … Read Full Post »