5 Reasons to Avoid a Plumbing Snake

Why hiring the pros is the best choice when dealing with a stubborn clog

When you have a drain that’s hopelessly clogged, it’s tempting to grab a plumbing snake to take care of it. Also called pipe snakes, these coiled wire tools can be effective at clearing clogs, but they can also cause a great deal of damage if you don’t know what you’re doing.

1. Incorrect Application

There are several different types of plumbing snakes:

• Top snakes
• Toilet augers
• Mini-rooters
• Large drain snakes

Each has a different function and level of power. Some are manual while others are motorized. If you don’t know which one to use, you’re more likely to make a serious plumbing mistake.

2. Pipe Damage

The number one problem with do-it-yourself snaking of pipes is the potential for damage. Homes with older, galvanized pipes are especially prone to this because the end of the snake can flop around inside the pipe … Read Full Post »

Get Your Lawn Ready for Winter in East Texas

While East Texas isn’t exactly Antarctica, our nighttime winter temperatures can dip low enough to make all living things a little uncomfortable, including the greenery growing in your yard. The good news is that since deep freezes are relatively rare in our area, getting your garden ready for the coldest season of the year is a breeze. Here’s what to put on your to-do list before the cooler weather makes its annual comeback:

Give Your Lawn Extra Food

Some species of animals never start the winter season without gaining a little weight for warmth and energy. The same idea can work for your lawn. Giving your grass more nutrients can translate to thicker, healthier growth next spring. For best results, use fertilizers that are rich in nitrogen in the beginning of autumn and fertilizers that are rich in phosphorous later in the season. This nutrient blend will fortify your lawn against harsh … Read Full Post »

Insect Art Will Make Your Eyes Bug Out

Taking pests and turning them into something beautiful

When most people think of having insects in their home, their first instinct is to call a pest control company to take care of the problem. However, there are some artists who would take a pest infestation as an opportunity to create their next line of work. As odd as it may seem to some people, there’s actually a market for a wide variety of artistic creations that are made with the bodies of deceased insects.

What Type of Items Are These Artists Creating?

Insects are used to make everything from jewelry to wall collages. In some cases, the bodies of these pests are altered with paint or the addition of new components. For example, artist Mike Libby makes up to $1,000 per piece with his steampunk inspired robo-insects. Libby has worked with bees, spiders, praying mantises, and many other insects, and the final result … Read Full Post »

Can I Collect Rainwater in Bryan and College Station?

The legal ins and outs of a sustainable landscaping solution

There was a time when watering your lawn meant racking up high water bills and straining the water supplies of drought-prone cities like Bryan and College Station. Thanks to some recent legal and technological changes, however, this is no longer the case. Let’s take a look at how the legalities of rainwater collection have evolved and whether it’s time for you to invest in a rainwater retaining system for your property.

Is It Legal to Collect Rainwater in Texas?

It’s generally legal to set up a rainwater catchment system in Texas, including in the communities of Bryan and College Station. This is due to a relatively simple legal framework that forms the foundation of water rights within the state. Unlike many other jurisdictions, Texas limits the state’s control of water resources to natural surface waterways like rivers, streams and creeks. Until it enters … Read Full Post »

Are You Hungry for a Tastier Landscape?

Give yourself a greener, healthier yard this year

When was the last time you changed your yard for the better? For many folks in the Bryan and College Station areas, the green space around the house is a place to gather, play with pets and relax on nice days. However, more and more central Texans are discovering the many benefits of yards and gardens that actually give something back. Learn how to turn your property into a health-promoting, money-saving produce patch.

The Benefits of a “Working Garden”

There are plenty of reasons to love a well-tended flower garden. It’s nice to look out the window and see splashes of color at nearly any time of year, and the birds and other wildlife that such arrangements attract can provide untold amounts of pleasure.

That said, there’s also room in many central Texas gardens for plants that bear fruit—literally. Some of the benefits of such a … Read Full Post »

Is Your Toilet Running Up Your Water Bill?

Put an end to high bills with professional help to stop this annoying and expensive problem

Is your toilet running? This might sound like a corny take on an old joke, but a toilet that runs when it hasn’t been flushed can be a big problem when it comes to your water bills.

The Phantom Flush

The noise you hear when your toilet suddenly starts running out of nowhere isn’t a flush. It’s actually the sound of water filling up the tank or bowl without stopping. This is a pretty good indication that there’s something wrong with the internal workings of your toilet and that you need to take a look before it starts costing you money. To determine if you are in fact dealing with a leak, place a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank and wait a little while. If the color winds up in the bowl, a … Read Full Post »

Tame the Fight Between Tree Roots and Sewer Lines

Protecting against a fight for the ages

It sounds like something out of a horror movie, but an epic struggle between tree roots on your property and your home’s sewer line is an alarmingly real possibility. Since tree roots care about seeking moisture and out-spreading the competition, they’re inclined to overtake anything in their path, including manmade objects like sewer lines. This can have serious ramifications for your plumbing system. Fortunately, it can be prevented in many cases.

Why Do Tree Roots Affect Sewer Lines?

Although sewer pipes are made from tough, supposedly impenetrable materials, tree roots can work their way inside them over the course of many months or years. Tree roots seek and grow through sewer lines for several reasons:

•    Sewer lines may be obstructing their natural growth pattern
•    The root may identify the line as a root from a competing tree
•    Sewer lines contain essential nutrients, including water, minerals and … Read Full Post »

Texas A&M Is Protecting Texas Bees: How Can You Help?

Learn about Texas A&M’s Beekeeping Clinic and what’s next for Texas bees

Over the past decade, bee colonies have experienced troubling population declines across the world. The problem has affected central Texas’s bees as well, and local apiaries worry that they won’t be able to support themselves indefinitely. With its recent beekeeping clinic and other efforts to support local beekeepers, Texas A&M University is doing its part to help. You can do yours as well!

 

A Recap of the 2014 Texas A&M Beekeeping Clinic

On June 7, Texas A&M University Held its annual Summer Beekeeping Clinic. Held right here in Bryan and hosted by Texas A&M University Assistant Professor of Apiculture Dr. Juliana Rangel, the clinic aimed to educate amateur beekeepers, beekeeping professionals and concerned citizens about how to care for bees and how to protect them from environmental hazards that can reduce their numbers. The clinic included a hands-on demonstration from Bill … Read Full Post »

A Weed by Any Other Name

One person’s weed is another’s wildflower

Flower gardens, with their gorgeous colors and delightful fragrances, are a welcome addition to any property. Plus, they tend to draw butterflies and birds, both of which add another dimension of beauty. Unfortunately, amid all these garden pleasures, one not-so-spectacular thing is certain: there will be weeds.

Weeds seem to pop up overnight, almost cheerfully defying your best efforts to have a perfect garden. However, while most people work relentlessly to rid their gardens of them, you might find weeds far less annoying if you stopped to consider a few overlooked facts. Some weeds flower quite beautifully; in fact, the only real difference between weeds and the other plants in your garden is that weeds grow where you don’t want them, often spreading rapidly in the heat of our Central Texas summers.

Interestingly, many of these unwanted plants were once very desirable not only for their beauty … Read Full Post »

How to Handle Scary Scorpions

Dealing with the creepiest pests in Texas

You can’t tell by looking, but scorpions are close cousins of spiders and ticks. Lineage and scientific names don’t matter when they crawl up the bedroom wall, though. Of all the pests that sneak into the house, scorpions may well be the scariest. But do they really deserve so much fear and loathing?

Strange Scorpion Facts

It’s hard to not be afraid of something that can survive a nuclear blast, and scorpions share that dubious honor with cockroaches. Those long-tailed creatures hiding in the attic glow in the dark when you hit them with a UV light. Their elaborate mating ritual involves locking claws and dancing. In fact, they keep up the courtship for more than 24 hours! Have a little sympathy for gentlemen scorpions: The ladies often finish the mating game by eating their partners.

Wood-Loving Pests

Texas is home to 18 species, but only striped bark … Read Full Post »