ABC Blog

Pruning Salvias: How To Care For These Ornamentals

When it comes to pruning, salvias known as scarlet sage don't require too much work

Salvias are popular ornamental plants that provide a pop of color in your yard and can withstand extreme temperatures. There are over nine hundred different species of salvias, each with different flowers and smells. Salvias thrive in warm climates and don’t need much water, making them a relatively low maintenance plant in Texas and other southern states. Pruning salvias can enhance their appearance and help these plants stay healthy throughout the year. There are three main categories of salvias, and each should be pruned slightly differently.

Deciduous Herbaceous Salvias

Deciduous herbaceous salvias are shrub-like and have soft stems. These salvias include:

  • Pineapple sage, also known as tangerine sage
  • Mexican Bush sage
  • Waverly sage
  • Bog sage
  • Gentian sage

These types of sage are relatively easy to prune. In the winter, older, soft stems will die off or freeze, so you’ll want to wait until the spring to do your pruning. Any old growth that is left on the plant … Read Full Post »

My Furnace Won’t Ignite: What Should I Do?

Furnace Won't Ignite

You are ready to curl up to enjoy a movie on the couch when you realize that it is still freezing in your home despite turning on your furnace. After some quick investigating, you come to the conclusion that your furnace won’t ignite. Sadly, there is not an easy answer to why this might be happening.

Any of the following problems could be responsible for your furnace not working properly:

  • Clogged filters
  • Loose wiring
  • Low gas supply
  • Malfunctioning thermostat
  • Your pilot light is out
  • The furnace is old or broken

Some of these problems will be easier fixes, while others will require professional help. When your pilot light goes out, your furnace won’t ignite and heat your home. Sometimes, this is the only problem that you need to fix, and things will go back to normal. Other times, the pilot light is still on, but other parts of the furnace could be malfunctioning. Or, it could be that … Read Full Post »

Why Is My Hot Water Heater Leaking?

Hot water heater leaking

No homeowner wants to discover a leak. Dripping water isn’t just an annoyance—it can cause serious damage to your property if left unattended. When you combine leaks with hot water heaters or electricity, potential dangers increase. So, what does it mean if your hot water heater is leaking? And more importantly, what should you do about it?

There are many possible reasons why your water heater might be leaking, including:

  • Your valves need to be replaced or tightened
  • Your fittings or supply piping need to be replaced
  • You need to install an expansion tank
  • There is condensation
  • Built-up sediment is causing the tank to crack and leak
  • There is a larger problem which may force you to consider replacing your water heater

Obviously, some of these problems are more serious than others. Unfortunately, neglecting to address the issue will only continue to allow mold and mildew to grow in the area around your water heater. Even condensation may … Read Full Post »

Will Pipes Freeze At 32 Degrees? Avoiding Disaster

Will Pipes Freeze at 32 Degrees

Here in Texas, we are lucky that our winters are relatively mild. However, we do have those nights where it can get a bit chillier than we’re accustomed to. When it drops below freezing, many homeowners start to wonder: Will pipes freeze at 32 degrees? Water freezes at 32 degrees, so technically that is the temperature at which it becomes possible for pipes to freeze as well. That said, it’s not quite that simple.

Pipes can freeze at 32 degrees or below, but it will take a sustained period of time for this to happen. In other words, a pipe needs to be at freezing temperatures for at least half a day before homeowners have to worry about any freezing occurring. And, generally speaking, the temperature needs to be well below 32 for at least that length of time before freezing becomes likely.

While you may assume that homeowners in the North … Read Full Post »

Why Is Cold Air Blowing Out Of Vents When The Heat Is On?

Cold air blowing out of vents when heat is on

When you come home on a chilly day, the last thing you want is to be met with is a gust of cold air blowing out of your vents when the heat is on. This unpleasant surprise is common, unfortunately, and can make uncomfortably cold weather that much more difficult to handle. Thankfully, there are a few common causes of this issue that can help you identify a solution.

Your Air Filter Is Dirty

Did changing your air filters slip your mind? Clogged air filters could be causing cold air to blow out of your vents. A dirty air filter can block airflow over your furnace’s heat exchanger, which can cause it to overheat. Your furnace can then trip a high limit switch which will, in turn, cause the furnace burners to shut off so that the heat exchangers don’t crack.

Your Pilot Light Is Out

If you have an older furnace with a … Read Full Post »

Symptoms Of High Water Pressure In A House

symptoms of high water pressure in house

High water pressure in a house might sound like a good thing. No one likes taking a shower with low pressure, and many people rely on a good shower first thing in the morning to wake up. But high water pressure—that is, pressure over 65 psi, or pounds per square inch—is too hard on your home’s internal pipes and fittings. If your home has high water pressure, there will be signs indicating the pressure is too high. It is important to pay attention to these signs so you can remedy the problem before the high water pressure ends up damaging your home’s pipes, water heater, toilets or shutoff valve. Symptoms of high water pressure in a house include:

  • A knocking, banging or hammering noise coming from the pipes when you turn on a faucet in the house (this is known as a “water hammer”).
  • Leaky faucets.
  • Irregular water pressure in your showers and … Read Full Post »

What Causes An Air Conditioner To Freeze Up?

What causes an air conditioner to freeze up

After a long day of working, running errands or playing outside on a hot day, nothing feels better than that blast of cool air from the AC—until it freezes up. It seems impossible for anything to freeze as the temperature climbs, but this is actually a common occurrence. What causes an air conditioner to freeze up even when it’s hot out?

There are a number of possibilities.

Refrigerant Could Be Low

Refrigerant is the substance that keeps your air conditioner’s evaporator coils cool and transforms your indoor air from humid and hot to dry and cool. When this compound leaks, it results in lower pressure in the evaporator coils. The lower the pressure, the lower the temperature, which eventually causes a frozen coil and AC unit. Due to the potential health risks for you, as well as other members of your household, if you suspect you could have leaking refrigerant, it’s best to … Read Full Post »

Do Crickets Bite? Keeping These Insects Out Of Your Home

Do crickets bite

Some years, crickets seem to be everywhere. In late summer and early fall, you might notice an abundance of these insects near your porch lights or hear a chorus of chirping in your backyard at night. If one lands on your leg, you might ask yourself the question: Do crickets bite?

While some species are capable of biting humans, thankfully, this is very unlikely. These insects seem to be more prevalent in years with dry springs and summers, usually appearing in higher numbers in August and September, following rain or cooler weather. Cricket invasions tend to occur when immature crickets go out on nighttime flights in search of mates.

While crickets won’t hurt us, you should know that these creatures can damage your belongings, and can become quite a nuisance. Cricket mandibles can pull fibers loose from carpet and different types of fabric, leaving the surface rough. Also, feces and other bodily … Read Full Post »

Bed Bug Bites Vs. Flea Bites: How Can I Tell Them Apart?

Bed Bug Bites Vs. Flea Bites

You woke up and noticed weird bites on your body. You look pointedly at Fido as he scratches behind his ear with a little more fervor than usual. Does he have fleas? Or maybe you have bed bugs? How would you know if you have bed bug bites versus flea bites, anyway?

If you’ve struggled to determine exactly what type of bug bit you, you are not alone. Most insect bites result in itching, and many leave a little bump or red mark where you were bitten. Why would it even matter which creature is biting you? For starters, bed bugs and fleas can pose different risks for you, your family and your pets. In this blog post, we’ll review the differences between these bugs’ feeding patterns, what their bites look like and how to treat a bite once you have settled on which creature is responsible.

Fleas: The Most Likely Culprit

A … Read Full Post »

Do Wasps Bite Or Sting? Advice On Treatment And Prevention

do wasps bite

Many homeowners have had the unpleasant experience of encountering a wasp while doing yard work or sitting outside with a cool drink. When wasps are around, it’s not easy to enjoy your outdoor living spaces. Since these flying pests are known for their aggressive behavior, it’s valid to wonder: Do wasps bite or sting?

Whether you’ve spotted just one lone wasp, a couple of them or even an entire nest, it’s smart to proceed with caution. While wasps don’t bite humans, they do sting, and these stings typically cause red, painful welts. Fortunately, even if you’re allergic to wasps, a sting from one of these pests isn’t likely to cause serious complications like anaphylactic shock, the way that bee stings can. Some people do experience more severe swelling, redness and discomfort than others at the site of a wasp sting, but most won’t suffer any life-threatening symptoms.

Still, wasp stings are distinctly … Read Full Post »