ABC Blog

Can Cats Smell Mice?

a cat that has sniffed out a mouse in a garden

We have all seen the popular cartoons about a cat trying to chase down a mouse and going nuts as the mouse plays all sorts of tricks on it, but how much of this is true in real life? It has been said that animals have an ability to sense that something is different or wrong in their environment long before humans have any idea that something is going on. When it comes to cats and mice, this is definitely true.

Cats have many of the same kinds of heightened senses that some of the world’s top predators use to track down their prey. This gives cats an increased ability to smell mice, but cats are not the only pets with this type of talent. Like their feline friends, dogs can smell mice too.

On average, both cats and dogs have a better sense of smell than humans. That is one reason … Read Full Post »

Why Is My Toilet Running?

a running toilet

A toilet that constantly runs can cause all sorts of issues for your household. The sound is annoying and concerning, especially when you do not know what is causing the problem. Plus, a running toilet can also cost you a lot of money in excess water bills and waste water in the process. The last thing that any of us wants to pay for is water that we are not using!

Unfortunately, a running toilet is a typical problem that affects people in all kinds of homes. Pretty much any issue that allows water to leak out of some part of the toilet’s system can result in the toilet running. Here are some of the most common reasons this happens.

An Issue With the Lift Wire or Chain

Inside your toilet’s tank is a wire or chain that connects the toilet’s handle to the flush valve. It also controls the water that flows … Read Full Post »

Why Is My Water Softener Leaking?

a kitchen with stainless steel appliances

A leaking water softener is an irritating problem to have in your home. Not only can the leak cause quite a mess, but it can also impact the appliance’s ability to do its job. Without a properly working water softener, you may start noticing signs of hard water again. For example, your home’s water might leave spots and residue on your glasses and faucets, and start to dry out your skin and hair. This is why it is important to identify the source of the leak before it becomes an even bigger problem.

As with any kind of appliance, water softeners only last for a certain amount of time. Their typical lifespan is around 10 to 15 years. At this point, the water softener can start to have issues like leaks or could stop working altogether. However, having a leak does not necessarily mean that it is time to buy a … Read Full Post »

How To Trim a Crepe Myrtle Tree

a large pink crepe myrtle tree

Crepe myrtles can be a gorgeous and relatively low-maintenance tree that will spruce up your yard. Not only are they drought tolerant, but they can also survive through humidity and high temperatures. However, homeowners can accidentally ruin these colorful trees if they are not careful. It is important to follow a few helpful maintenance tips to keep your crepe myrtles healthy and beautiful.

For one, excessive trimming can ruin a crepe myrtle. Only young crepe myrtle trees need pruning, and these saplings should be pruned with great care. Cutting back too many or too few branches when the tree is young can make the tree unhealthy, unattractive and difficult to maintain once it gets older.

The first step is to make sure you are pruning at the right time of year. It is important to wait until late winter or very early spring before new growth begins to cut into your trees. … Read Full Post »

Southern House Spider: Identification Tips

a southern house spider climbing up a wall

There are more than 45,000 different kinds of spiders that live in areas across the world. Fortunately, most of the spiders in the U.S. are not dangerous to humans.

One common spider in this part of the world is the southern house spider (Kukulcania hibernalis). This spider is sometimes also referred to as a southern crevice spider. As their name implies, these spiders live in Texas, Florida and other southern states. They are typically found in a variety of manmade structures, including houses, bridges and barns. They like to live in dark, sheltered spaces of a structure, such as in the crevices of windowsills and overhangs of a home.

Identifying Male Versus Female Southern House Spiders

Interestingly, male and female southern house spiders look very different from one another. The females are about half an inch to three-quarters of an inch long. Females are a charcoal gray color with dark patches. The end … Read Full Post »

Why Is My Water Bill So High?

a home with a slab leak

When homeowners notice a spike in their water bill, it can often lead to finger-pointing and frustration. Maybe you’re just noticing that your water pressure isn’t as great as it used to be or your toilet won’t flush all the way. Most homeowners find that an increase in their water bill is due to a leak or change in water use. If you have kids home from college or a new garden that you’re watering more, you also may see an increase in your water bill. And, did you know something as simple as a dripping faucet can waste more than 20 gallons of water a day?

Other common high water bill culprits include:

  • A leaky toilet
  • Filling or topping off a swimming pool
  • A leaking or malfunctioning sprinkler system
  • Malfunctioning humidifiers attached to a furnace
  • Hosting guests
  • Large leaks, … Read Full Post »

Why Are the Coils Frozen on My AC Unit?

A white kitchen with flowers on the table

If your AC seems to be cycling on and off more often, running longer, blowing warmer air or in general not working well, it’s time to investigate. The sooner an AC problem is fixed, the better. When an AC stops working, it’s not only uncomfortable and inconvenient; it can be downright dangerous. When your AC malfunctions, you may wonder, “Are the coils frozen on my AC unit?” If you fear you have a frozen evaporator coil on your AC unit, it should be diagnosed quickly to avoid bigger and more costly problems.

By now, you might be wondering, what is an evaporator coil and what does it do? The evaporator coil is the part of the air-conditioning system that absorbs heat from the air inside a house. It is a series of U-shaped tubes filled with refrigerant and connected to the indoor components of the AC system.

Depending on the AC system, … Read Full Post »

What’s the Best Fertilizer for Bermuda Grass?

a homeowner preparing to fertilize their grass

Lots of people love bermuda grass because it thrives in so many conditions. It’s fine with humidity but also drought-tolerant. It feels good on your feet, yet can handle lots of foot traffic. There’s plenty to love about this low-maintenance grass. But, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t need a little care throughout the year, including the right fertilizer. The best fertilizer for bermuda grass is one with plenty of nitrogen, some potassium and little to no phosphorus. This blend of nutrients, called the NPK ratio, will help your bermuda grass look its best.

Most fertilizers come in liquid, water-soluble or granular form. Both liquid and water-soluble fertilizers are easy to apply. You attach the fertilizer container to your garden hose and spray an even layer throughout the yard. Liquid fertilizers absorb quickly, which means they may need to be applied more often than other forms, like granular fertilizer. This dry form … Read Full Post »

Why Is My Tankless Water Heater Not Heating?

a cold shower because the tankless water heater is not heating up

In normal circumstances, tankless water heaters usually have many benefits. These types of heaters are known for saving homeowners money and providing hot water more quickly than other kinds of water heaters. But, when your tankless water heater is not heating properly, it can make for a really bad day—especially if it stops working when your friends or other guests are visiting.

There are several different reasons why a tankless water heater would not be heating.

Sediment Buildup

Over time, mineral sediments can build up in your water heater and throughout your plumbing system. This holds especially true if the water supply in your area is “hard” or has a high concentration of minerals. When this happens, water leaves behind particles of magnesium, calcium and other minerals wherever it goes. This includes your water heater, pipes, water filter and other parts of your home’s plumbing system.

If a thick layer of minerals builds up, … Read Full Post »

Is a Water Softener Worth It?

a sink and dishwasher that would benefit from a water softener because hard water is wearing down the appliances

Water softeners are valuable for many different reasons. They can lengthen the lifespan of your home’s appliances and prevent your family’s skin and hair from getting dry and itchy. Water softeners can also help prevent minerals from building up inside your pipes and water fixtures. Plus, they can reduce spots on glassware and soap scum in your sink and tub.

However, not everyone needs a water softener. You really only need one if you have hard water in your home. Otherwise, if your water is already soft, then using a water softener doesn’t have many benefits.

Water softeners work by removing unwanted minerals, such as magnesium and calcium, from the water in your home’s plumbing. Magnesium and calcium are both positive ions. The resin beads in a water softener hold negative sodium ions. As water flows through the softener, the resin beads in the water softener attract the minerals that need to … Read Full Post »