Why Your Heating System Loves a Good Tune-Up

Staying safe, saving money and enjoying a more reliable heating system

Heating system tune-ups and routine maintenance is an investment that provides a host of benefits for your heating system, your health and your home.

Improved Health and Safety

As furnaces age, they often develop cracks that can compromise combustion and leak carbon monoxide gas into your home. This toxic gas has no color or odor, and a buildup can cause negative health symptoms. Routine tune-ups catch cracks early so the necessary repairs can be done to prevent a potentially dangerous situation.

Less Need for Repairs

Speaking of repairs, investing in a tune-up now means not having to get your heating system fixed later. A furnace or HVAC that’s operating as it should experiences less strain than one that’s barely getting by with old, worn or dirty parts. Cleaning and maintaining home heating equipment prolongs its life as well, and maintenance is certainly much cheaper … Read Full Post »

Fabulous Foliage: How to Keep Trees and Bushes Healthy This Winter

Getting your trees and decorative plants ready for the cooler weather

Winter in the San Antonio area can bring cool temperatures that affect the trees and bushes adorning your lawn. Protect your precious plants from damage with these tips.

Keep Plants Hydrated

Dryness is the enemy of plants during the winter. As it becomes harder to take up water, leaves may brown and begin to die off even on evergreens. Continue to water your lawn regularly throughout the fall and don’t stop until the first hard freeze.

Make It Moist

To ensure that plants hold the water you give them, place a thick layer of mulch around the roots. This preserves the moisture content of the soil. Mulch also serves to insulate tree and shrub roots from cold and the drying effects of winter sun and wind. Spraying evergreens with an anti-desiccant offers an added layer of protection.

Wrap Up

Strong winter winds whip tree branches with … Read Full Post »

Wildlife in the City: When Neighbors Collide

What to do when those cute critters encroach

The San Antonio area is a great place to see wild animals in their native habitats. We’re surrounded by natural areas that harbor dozens of bird, reptile, and mammal species, reminding us that humanity is just one part of a diverse ecosystem. Unfortunately, wild animals occasionally encroach on our property and necessitate a response from homeowners or trained professionals. It’s important to understand how to deal with such activity without overreacting.

What Animals Tend to Live Among Us?

There are plenty of resident critters in central and south Texas. The ones that tend to do best among people include:

•    Opossums
•    Raccoons
•    Coyotes
•    Deer
•    Songbirds and birds of prey

Should You Feed the Deer?

Many San Antonio-area homeowners welcome the influx of animals into our neighborhoods. Some even go so far as to encourage their presence by leaving out bird or deer feeders.

While it can be great to … Read Full Post »

Bad Things Come in Threes: Texas Termites

A Trio of Hill Country Trouble

When you flip through a photo lineup of Isoptera mug shots, they all resemble plump ants. Don’t let their ordinary looks fool you. San Antonio homes are vulnerable to destruction all year round to three different types of termites, and each has its own peculiar way of trespassing on property and breaking into central Texas homes.

Sneaky Subterraneans

These destructive termites swarm the area from February through May and build their nests beneath your lawn. Extensive underground hideouts provide necessary moisture and ideal temperatures for termite survival. As the pests expand their territory, they forage for food sources above ground, and your house becomes an easy target. Tiny mud tunnels along foundations and exterior walls are sure signs of thousands of subterraneans on the move, and their damage shows up in wood that appears honeycombed with only its grain left intact.

Determined Drywoods

Drywood termites don’t depend on the … Read Full Post »

Simple Tips to Control Home Energy Use This Winter

Stay warm while keeping your heating bills under control

It’s the same scenario every winter: you get your first heating bill and nearly fall over when you see the total. Make it different this year with these tips to save energy and reduce heat loss around your home.

Assess and Address Air Leaks

Any problem that’s allowing air to escape from your home should be addressed immediately. Check for duct leaks, and gaps around windows and doors. Assess the amount of insulation in areas such as the attic, basement, and crawl spaces. A home energy audit can give you the most comprehensive picture of where heat is going. If necessary, use weather stripping, caulking, or extra insulation to close gaps.

Be Smart With Windows

Windows are another big source of heat loss. One of the most inexpensive ways to control this is to seal them with a plastic window covering kit. Put the storm windows … Read Full Post »

As Temperatures Cool, Rodents Get Ready to Move In

Winter rodent control tips for a pest-free home

No home is immune from the presence of rodents, and winter brings the highest potential for infestation. Colder temperatures mean that animals are looking for a cozy place to bed down, and from their perspective, a safe, warm house is just the right choice.

Cold Weather, Unwanted Houseguests

Since rats and mice don’t hibernate, they’re looking for a place where they can get everything they need throughout the season. Any cold, hungry pest is going to seek a spot where heat and food can be found. Your home has both of these things along with insulation and other materials that can be used for nesting. Crawl spaces, attics, empty areas inside walls, garages and sheds are all potential rodent hideouts.

Wintertime Rodent Control

Inspecting your home for places where rats and mice can get in is the first step in making sure they don’t turn your home … Read Full Post »

Add Some Seasonal Glow With Holiday Lighting

Make your home sparkle this season with creative light displays

The holidays are coming up fast. Are you ready to hang your seasonal lighting? Get started with these tips for creating a display that adds a little flair to your San Antonio neighborhood.

Pick a Theme

Start by deciding what you want to convey with your display. Do you prefer simple and elegant, or would you rather go all out with every holiday decoration you can think of? Are you aiming for a colorful look or basic white accented with accessories such as wreaths? What you choose will determine the type and quantity of lights you’ll need as well as any additional pieces such as frames or stakes.

Draw Up a Plan

Once you’ve decided on a theme, sit down and sketch it out. Decide where you want to hang lights and how you want them to look. Generally, lights are used to outline the … Read Full Post »

4 Popular Hardscaping Features

Landscaping Improvements That Work For You

Lawns need mowing, gardens love edging, and weeds deserve whacking. Yard chores aren’t fun, but they add up to a beautiful home landscape. What if you could improve the scenery with features that don’t demand special attention? Here are four great hardscaping ideas for homeowners who like to relax on the weekend.

1. Retaining Walls Have Purpose

Whether they’re built with concrete block or native field stone, well-placed retaining walls minimize erosion from pouring rains and help control storm flooding. They shade delicate gardens from sizzling Texas summers and provide welcome wind breaks when winter storms blow through. If your lawn mower bounces over uneven terrain, consider the shorter cousins of these functional walls. Terracing tames the wildest slopes in San Antonio yards.

2. Pathways Work Around Problems

Towering shade trees thin the lawn under their branches, and family foot traffic wears ruts along favorite home trails. Win this … Read Full Post »

Wildlife in the City: When Neighbors Collide

What to do when those cute critters encroach

The San Antonio area is a great place to see wild animals in their native habitats. We’re surrounded by natural areas that harbor dozens of bird, reptile, and mammal species, reminding us that humanity is just one part of a diverse ecosystem. Unfortunately, wild animals occasionally encroach on our property and necessitate a response from homeowners or trained professionals. It’s important to understand how to deal with such activity without overreacting.

What Animals Tend to Live Among Us?

There are plenty of resident critters in central and south Texas. The ones that tend to do best among people include:

•    Opossums
•    Raccoons
•    Coyotes
•    Deer
•    Songbirds and birds of prey

Should You Feed the Deer?

Many San Antonio-area homeowners welcome the influx of animals into our neighborhoods. Some even go so far as to encourage their presence by leaving out bird or deer feeders.

While it can be great to … Read Full Post »

San Antonio Tree Selection: Choosing the Best Trees for Your Yard

Windbreaks, Shades and Canopies That Love Central Texas

Planting a new tree in the yard yields instant green thumb gratification. Even the smallest sapling stands up straight with a promise of easy care and future shade. The mild San Antonio climate is very forgiving about your choice in timber, but some trees love the area more than others.

From Understories to Canopies

Trees don’t have to grow tall to be beautiful, and some of our loveliest local choices are the understory species. Mexican buckeyes and Texas redbuds mature at 10 feet, so enjoy these smaller plantings as windbreaks that offer natural landscaping privacy. Taller maples, walnuts and Mexican plums reach ideal heights for keeping your great outdoors shady and comfortable. Count on live oaks, cedar elms and Sabal palms for magnificent, towering canopies that spread over the house, block the sizzling sun and help hold down summer cooling costs.

Fabulous Flowers and Delectable Fruits

The … Read Full Post »