Best Tips for a Tick-Free Yard

Ticks thrive in damp, leafy areas with plenty of shade from the hot Texas sun. If that sounds like your yard, chances are that you’re about to – or already do – have a few new tenants, and they aren’t planning on paying the rent. Despite their tiny size, ticks can cause big problems, including the dreaded Lyme disease. While rates for new cases of Lyme disease are relatively low in Texas compared to other states, your health is too important to gamble on statistics. Here’s what you can do to transform your yard from a tick haven to a tick-free zone in any season:

Learn What Ticks Look Like

Because ticks vary in appearance depending on their age and species, it’s easy to miss one if you don’t know what to look for. To learn more about the characteristics of common regional ticks, check out this app from Texas A&M University.

Keep … Read Full Post »

Signs of a Hidden Water Leak

Detecting and eliminating unwanted dampness

Hidden leaks can waste thousands of gallons of water per year and often result in serious damage to the underlying structure of your home. Watch for these signs to detect leaks so you can take action before they become severe.

Increased Water Bills

A sudden spike in your water bill is one of the telltale signs of a hidden leak. If you can’t find any reason for the change and your bills remain high even when you’re trying to be conservative, it’s time to have the plumbing checked.

Discolored Patches

Hidden water can cause dark places, rings, or other color changes to appear on the ceiling and walls around your home. In some cases this may be the result of a leaky roof, but it could also mean that the pipes are sending water where it shouldn’t be going.

Peeling or Blistered Walls

Water inside walls can cause wallpaper and paint to … Read Full Post »

Texas A&M Agrilife Extension IPM Program

Where do we find our inspiration? It begins here.

If you’ve used our pest control services before, you understand the thoroughness and attention to detail that define our approach. However, you might not be as familiar with the theory and technique behind our unique pest management protocols. Much of the work that we do is based on the insights and achievements of the folks at Texas A&M University’s IPM program.

What Is IPM?

IPM stands for “integrated pest management.” It’s an innovative approach to pest control that focuses on sustainable, long-term solutions to the underlying issues that allow pests to thrive. It’s not simply about killing as many pests as possible and hoping that they don’t return. It’s also not about using hazardous chemicals that make it difficult for any living things to survive in the affected areas. According to Texas A&M, IPM seeks to “eliminate pest problems by strengthening and stabilizing the … Read Full Post »

What Actually Happens During a Home Comfort Audit?

Understand what happens during a comfort audit and how it can help you

Keeping your home comfortable is important, but it may cost you big when it comes to utility bills. Like many San Antonio homeowners, you may wonder how you can cut down on costs while staying comfortable at home. Consider choosing a professional home comfort audit to identify opportunities to bolster efficiency in your home.

What Happens During a Home Comfort Analysis?

Many homeowners have heard about home energy audits but are unsure of what they entail. At its core, home comfort analysis is designed to identify areas for efficiency improvement in your home. These inspections take your home’s structure, HVAC system and your own comfort habits into account. During a home comfort analysis, you can expect your technician to do the following:

•    Discuss your home’s HVAC system and your overall level of comfort with you in detail.
•    Inspect your heating … Read Full Post »

Is Your Plumber Properly Licensed?

If you’re like most homeowners, you want to solve unexpected plumbing problems as quickly and cheaply as possible. When a drain gets clogged or your toilet won’t stop running, you may be tempted to call a friend who knows a thing or two about plumbing. It’s possible that an amateur can indeed fix a small problem if it turns out to be what he expected. However, if something goes wrong, the integrity of your entire house could be at risk. Unless you’ve always wanted to turn your home into a mold-infested water park, go the safer route and hire a licensed professional plumber instead.

The Value of a Plumbing License

It’s not easy to get a plumbing license. Plumbers must pass rigorous tests and obtain years of hands-on experience to make the cut. Unlike an amateur, a licensed plumber is prepared to handle any potential problem that arises while they’re working. They … Read Full Post »

What Not to Do When Your Pipes Clog Up

Avoid these DIY clog-clearing disasters

When your pipes are clogged, it can be tempting to try every trick you can think of to clear them. However, no matter how annoying it is to have standing water in your sink or a toilet that won’t flush properly, there are a few things you should never do in an attempt to get rid of clogs.

Don’t Poke at It

Drain snakes, also called augers, can be useful tools if you know how to use them. If you don’t, all you’ll wind up doing when you stick one down the drain is stuffing the clog further into the pipes. Using an auger is pointless for large clogs if they’re located further down than the instrument will reach.

The same thing goes for unbent coat hangers. These might work to clean out a clogged vacuum hose, but putting one down the drain in the hopes that it will … Read Full Post »

Who Else Wants Picturesque Hardscaping?

A beautiful landscape doesn’t have to be green all over

In drought-prone areas like San Antonio, there’s a new landscape design trend brewing: hardscaping. This increasingly popular choice offers a wide range of opportunities for homeowners who want to lessen their landscape maintenance chores, lower their water bills and reduce their environmental impact without sacrificing the beauty or charm that property owners everywhere crave. Hardscaping is a cost-effective choice for virtually every homeowner in central Texas.

Benefits of Hardscaping

The benefits of hardscaping vary by region, but some of the most important include:

•    Stable, supportive surfaces for chairs and other lawn furniture
•    The ability to install permanent design elements that add value to your property
•    Options to integrate traditional landscape elements like annuals and shrubs into hardscape elements like terraces and planters
•    No need to mow or trim
•    Less water use than grass or shrubbery

Common Paving Options

There are plenty of hardscaping options at … 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 »

Are Your Pipes Feeling Their Age?

And how do you know when it’s time to update your plumbing system?

Even if you don’t have a commercial plumbing system that sees dozens of uses per day, your home’s plumbing will eventually wear out. You may notice small leaks, problems with your water pressure and constant fluctuations in temperature. If you wait too long to make necessary repairs, you could face a high repair bill and other unpleasant consequences, including property damage. These are some of the clearest benefits of making a timely plumbing upgrade:

More Efficiency

If you have an older plumbing system that hasn’t been upgraded in some time, it’s probably not as efficient as a modern system. In turn, this can lead to higher water bills and unnecessary water waste, a potentially serious issue in our drought-prone neck of the woods. Despite their upfront cost, low-flow toilets, showerheads and sink fixtures tend to pay for themselves over time.

Avoiding … Read Full Post »

Chikungunya Virus Found in Texas

Can Proper Pest Control Stop the Spread of Chikungunya?

Chikungunya is a potentially deadly disease that can only be transmitted by mosquitoes. According to the CDC, there are no viable medications or vaccines to treat or prevent this illness. In other words, it’s critical for everyone to be aware of this problem so that they can protect themselves and their family. Although Chikungunya has typically been found in Europe, Asia, Africa and in the Pacific and Indian oceans, it has recently made its way to America.

What Has Happened so Far in Texas?

From July 7 – August 14, 2014, the state of Texas went from confirming one human case of Chikungunya to having 10 patients diagnosed with this disease. During this time period, one mosquito has tested positive for chikungunya, and it’s still unknown if this was the result of biting an infected person or gaining entry to the U.S. by becoming … Read Full Post »