ABC Blog

Beautiful Blooms That Defy Texas Winters

Four Garden Favorites That Don’t Mind the Cold

If you have a USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map handy, you’ll see that Austin enjoys a comfortable spot in Zone 8b. Our mild climate is a joy to area gardeners, and local green thumbs especially love these four favorites that always help bust the winter blues.

1. Prized Pansies – They’re not the biggest blossoms on the block, but these pretty flowers are tough enough to survive snow and sleet. Their distinctive five-leaf blooms come in a rainbow of hues, and the monkey-faced variety sports contrasting dark areas on each petal. Pansies are happiest with at least six hours of sunlight each day, so give them a bright spot to soak up the rays, and enjoy their color all winter long.

2. Winter Jasmine – While some gardeners consider these willowy vines old-fashioned, there’s nothing wrong with an heirloom bush that bursts into bloom in … Read Full Post »

Do Plumbers Need a License in Texas?

The Importance of Working with a Plumbing Professional

It can be tempting to turn to a local unlicensed handyman if you need plumbing work done in your Bryan-College Station home, but this’ll leave you without the protection that is associated with utilizing a licensed professional. In fact, the state of Texas requires individuals who perform plumbing services to have a license that verifies they’ve received the proper training. Anyone who holds a plumbing license in Texas has passed a board-certified examination, and this means that they should be properly equipped to handle any of your plumbing needs.

Are Plumbing Licenses Permanent?

Just like your driver’s license, it’s necessary for plumbers to periodically renew their license and registration. In order to obtain these renewals, licensed plumbers must attend continuing education courses. This helps ensure that they stay up-to-date on the latest techniques, and it also helps prevent the erosion of previously obtained knowledge. After … 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 »

10 Shocking, Weird Bug Facts to Keep You Awake at Night

Bugs give humans the creeps for reasons we don’t fully comprehend. It makes sense that we wouldn’t care much for insects that are capable of spreading disease, inflicting painful stings or eating our homes from the ground up. However, there is something about a crunchy cockroach or a slimy worm that we just can’t stomach, and it doesn’t seem to be related to what they can do to us. We’re much bigger, and we can crush them with hardly any effort. Instead, we run and scream and invent new dance moves. The list below definitely justifies our heebie jeebies.

1. Ants and the Slave Trade

Slavery isn’t just a human atrocity. Amazon ants steal the larvae of other ants and make them slaves. They’re not doing it to demonstrate superiority; they actually depend on their slaves for survival because they are incapable of doing anything other than fighting.

2. Don’t Mess with Aussie … Read Full Post »

Easy Ways to Ward Off Rodents

Kick mice and rats to the curb with these handy household tips

Nobody wants to share their home with rats and mice. They get into food, leave droppings everywhere, and can carry potentially dangerous diseases. Fortunately, there are some simple steps you can take to keep rodents from deciding that your house is an ideal place to live.

Keep Them Out

Grab a pencil and take a walk around the outside of your house. Whenever you find a hole or gap, stop and measure it with the pencil. If the pencil fits, so will a rodent. After identifying all potential entry points, break out the weather stripping, caulking, insulation, and anything else you need to seal up those holes. Be as thorough as possible since even the smallest gap can be an open doorway for a mouse or rat.

Ditch the Rodent Buffet

If you could go to a delicious buffet any time and eat … Read Full Post »

Before You Bake: Is Your Heating Element Healthy?

Check your oven’s health before the holiday season

Austin families are preparing for the holiday season, which often means cooking and baking for parties and family gatherings. Before you head into the kitchen this winter, it pays to be sure that you have all of the ingredients you’ll need to make dazzling cakes, cookies, and party foods. Of course, it’s also important to be sure that your major appliances are doing their part in your holiday preparations.

Is Your Oven’s Heating Element Causing Baking Woes?

There’s no doubt that baking is a science. After all, it takes the perfect combination of ingredients to make stellar baked goods. Excelling as a baker also means having the right appliances. While many professional bakers swear by convection ovens, most homeowners still use standard electric or gas ranges in their homes. Thankfully, you can still get great results with these types of ovens.

However, you do need to … 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 »

As Temperatures Cool, Rodents Move In

Rodent Control Tips for Dallas Area Homeowners

Winter gives Dallas residents some much-needed respite from the brutal heat of summer time, but cooler temperatures invite rodent issues that need to be proactively addressed. After all, rats, mice and other rodents are just as interested in surviving the winter as you are, so it makes sense for them to seek out a warm, dry shelter such as your attic or interior walls. Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to prevent rodent wintering from becoming a problem on your property.

How Can I Protect My Home?

The first thing that you need to do is inspect your property for any holes or gaps that’ll invite rodents to move into your house for the winter. This inspection needs to include the entire exterior of your home, your closets, drains, cabinets and all areas where your walls and floors join together. Make sure that … 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 »