So Many Ants, So Little Time

If you’ve been in your home for any length of time, odds are good that you share it with at least a few uninvited guests. While they’re not individually the most dangerous pests around, ants can be a serious nuisance because when one comes, many others follow. To keep your home ant-free, you’ll need to be proactive and decisive.

The first step is to make your home less attractive to ants. An ant that enters a building is generally looking for sources of food; head them off by keeping your food items in sealed containers and cleaning up leftovers promptly after meals. Don’t let dirty dishes and standing water accumulate in the sink; to an ant, that’s dinner and a beverage all in one.

More generally, keep on top of your everyday home cleaning regimen. The dirtier you allow your house to get, the more food and hiding places ants and other … Read Full Post »

Discourage Those Voracious Deer in 5 Easy Steps

Learn how to tackle a deer invasion

Deer can seriously harm your trees, bushes or garden. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of “salad” to nourish a large animal. A single deer may eat over 300 pounds of plant matter each month, according to Texas Gardener’s Seeds. The Parks and Wildlife Department warns that yearly deer damage costs American homeowners over $250 million. Luckily, people have found many effective ways to repel this ravenous beast.

1. Certain substances will discourage deer if you place them near desirable plants. Better Homes & Gardens recommends using fabric softener, human hair, garlic or mothballs. Rotting fish heads also work, but they might repel you from the garden as well. Animals frequently adapt to these repellents; you may need to use a different item every week.

2. A variety of sprays can keep hungry wildlife at bay. Some products give off a fragrance similar to that of certain … Read Full Post »

Bats in the Belfry Are Bad, but Squirrels in the Attic Are Worse

Keeping furry invaders out of your home

Squirrels are always looking for safe places to call home. Unfortunately, your attic provides everything they need to be comfortable: a cool area, nesting material, space to store food and a protected place to have babies. Squirrels can chew straight through shingles and wood to gain access to your attic. These preventative measures reduce the possibility of damage by helping to keep your home squirrel-free.

Deny Entry

A squirrel can’t take up residence in your attic if it can’t get inside. Take a look around both the inside and outside of the space and plug up any holes that you find. This includes both holes that lead into the attic and those that may offer access to the rest of your home. Install a cap over your chimney and cover vents with mesh to eliminate easy entry points. Make sure to leave one space for any … Read Full Post »

When the Seasons Change, Will Your HVAC System Be Ready?

Make sure that your HVAC system keeps you comfortable all year long

As summer temperatures soar across San Antonio, you rely more than ever on your home’s HVAC system to keep you comfortably cool. Unfortunately, some homeowners face serious summertime woes when their units stop working or cease to provide the level of service that they expect. Taking time to tackle basic HVAC maintenance now is a great way to prevent such problems and extend the operating life of your air conditioner.

Essential HVAC Maintenance

One of the best ways to ensure the dependability of your HVAC unit is to take care of basic maintenance. Preventive maintenance can help prevent system failure and extend the operating life of your HVAC equipment. Most heating and cooling experts recommend that you have maintenance performed on your HVAC equipment at least twice a year. Make sure to perform maintenance at least once before the cooling season … Read Full Post »

Brown Spot, Rust and Fairy Ring: Can Your Lawn Survive the Onslaught?

Finding patchy, unexplained grass death, weird rings or reddish-orange powder all over your San Antonio lawn can be disconcerting. Invasion by unusually small aliens or unscheduled irrigation courtesy of the Great Dane that lives next door might be among your first suspicions. Before you make tinfoil hats or plot revenge against your neighbors, you might want to consider these common fungal diseases as a potential cause.

Brown Patch: Is It Fungus or Fido?

Brown patch is commonly seen in Bermuda and St. Augustine grass. The visible symptoms of brown patch can vary by season and environmental factors. Circular or irregular patches of thin, light brown grass are typical. Lumps of dark brown, foul-smelling solids near the area may indicate that your problem is a mammal rather than a fungus. Treatment for brown patch includes conservative watering early in the day, good aeration and careful avoidance of over-fertilization. Fungicides are most effective as … Read Full Post »

Choosing a Thermostat? Don’t Make These Mistakes

Why a thermostat is one of the most important investments in your home

As summer days heat up throughout San Antonio, you rely more and more on your home’s HVAC system to keep you cool. A well-maintained air conditioner or heat pump can help you beat soaring temperatures and stay comfortable in your own home. You can make the most of your AC unit’s potential by choosing a thermostat that’s prepared to meet your comfort demands.

Thermostat Basics: More Than Temperature Control

Also known as comfort controls, thermostats allow you to monitor and control the operation of your HVAC system. A wide variety of thermostats are available to residential and commercial customers. Both central air and ductless cooling systems rely on comfort controls.

Many homeowners don’t put much thought into choosing a thermostat for their San Antonio AC unit. You might think that all thermostats are alike or that a thermostat can’t have a … Read Full Post »

The Best Tips for Battling Mosquitoes This Summer

Keeping your family safe from mosquito borne diseases

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 30,000 people have contracted West Nile virus in the U.S. from a mosquito. Additionally, there’s a long list of other diseases that mosquitoes can pass to humans and animals, so it’s definitely a good idea to take preventative measures to keep your entire family safe.

Tips for Avoiding Mosquito Bites

1. Stay Indoors During Dawn and Dusk

Mosquitoes can bite you at any time of the day, but they’re most active at dawn and at dusk. Due to this, it’s best to avoid being outside during these time periods, especially if you’re not wearing a mosquito repellent.

2. Wear Long Sleeves and Pants

It can be uncomfortable to wear pants and long sleeves in the San Antonio area during the summer, but it’s better to take this step than to become a buffet dinner for a swarm of … Read Full Post »

Where There’s One Ant, There’s 100 More

How communication leads to an infestation

If you see even one ant in your San Antonio area home, the reality is that there are probably hundreds more that you haven’t spotted yet. Fortunately, scouting ants are the first to enter a new dwelling, so you do have the opportunity to prevent a major infestation by contacting a professional pest control company at the first sign of an issue.

Do Ants Talk?

Research indicates that ants begin communicating with each other from the late pupae stage, and it’s an imperative aspect of community safety. As soon as each ant matures enough to develop a hardened exoskeleton, they’re able to make noises by using one of their hind legs to strike a spike located on their abdomen. The most interesting aspect of this form of communication is that entomologists believe it’s used primarily to receive assistance during an emergency. For example, if an ant encounters … Read Full Post »

When Good Water Heaters Go Bad

Water heaters are one of those things that we tend to not think about until there’s a problem. We take a constant supply of hot water for granted, and as soon as that supply is interrupted, we panic. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to head off any issues with your water heater before they become big problems. Here are a few common reasons why water heaters go bad.

Listen, Smell and Taste

Although water heaters make some noise while they’re running, it’s not hard to distinguish between a good noise and a bad noise. Listen for loud cracks and pops during operation; they usually indicate that the heating elements are interacting with each other. This happens for a variety of reasons, but often because of mineral deposits or scales building up on moving parts.

Another quick test is to smell or taste the hot water at any faucet. If there’s a … Read Full Post »

Say Goodbye to Dry Hair With Water Softeners

Want your hair, skin and everything else to shine like it should?

At some point in your life, you’ve probably taken a shower that just didn’t make you feel very clean. It’s possible that the soap didn’t lather properly. Maybe your hair felt dry and frizzy as soon as you shook out the excess water. Whatever the effects of this unsettling experience, it’s likely that it was due to hard water. Many homes in the San Antonio area have hard water, but there’s a relatively easy fix that can preserve your sanity.

What Is Hard Water?

According to chemistry experts, hard water is any type of water that contains dissolved minerals. Just like there’s a pH scale to determine the concentration of oxygen and hydrogen ions in water, there’s a gradient scale that measures the “hardness” of water. Although municipal water is rarely as mineral-rich as water that occurs in nature, even small … Read Full Post »