ABC Blog

Signs of Rats: Identification and Control Tips

a rat coming out from underneath a deck

Have you noticed signs of rats living somewhere in your home, attic or garage? If you suspect you have a rat infestation, it’s unsettling—and trying to address it on your own can quickly lead to frustration, as you learn that setting out a few traps won’t be enough to resolve the problem. Like mice and other wild rodent pests, rats are opportunists. They are also wily, clever animals. They enter people’s homes (and other buildings on the property) in search of food and shelter. If they find an opening, they’ll use it to get inside. Rats are also prolific breeders, so if they have a chance to build a nest, their population can expand quickly.

You may notice signs of rats in your home, but you’re even more likely to find them in your attic, garage, shed or some other less-visited place on your property. Since rats are nocturnal, they’re most … Read Full Post »

How Long Do Pre-Emergents Last?

Weeds popping through soil which may lead a homeowner to wonder how long pre-emergents last

Many homeowners strive to find the perfect combination of watering, mowing and fertilization to create that coveted lush, weed-free lawn we all want, but they overlook the importance of using a pre-emergent herbicide to keep weeds at bay. If you love having a healthy lawn, you may be wondering about these products, also called “preemergence herbicides,” and how to use them. How long do pre-emergents last? How do they work? And when is the best time to apply them to your yard?

Fortunately, pre-emergents are a relatively straightforward and effective step to add to your lawn care routine, as long as you make sure to select the right product for your yard and add it at the right time. The name “pre-emergent herbicide” refers to the fact that these products are to be used before the weeds emerge—which really means before their seeds have taken root.

Typically, pre-emergents will be effective for … Read Full Post »

What Do Rats Sound Like?

A rat peering into a home from a crawl space

Unfortunately, there are a number of animals that can invade your home in search of shelter, water and food. And, many times, you’ll start noticing the signs of these visitors before actually spotting them. So, how can you determine if you have rats in your home, or something else? One way to differentiate between rats and other creatures is by listening to the sounds they make.

If you have rats in your home, you’ll likely hear several specific noises:

  • Scurrying sounds as rats travel from place to place
  • Thumps as they play or fight
  • Scratching and chewing as they eat and gather supplies for nests
  • Squeaks from immature rats coming from a nest

Most vocalizations occur outside of the realm of what a human is capable of hearing. Most audible sounds come from rats that are in a state of distress.

Where will these sounds originate? For most people, your attic. This can be disturbing, because we … Read Full Post »

Topsoil vs. Compost: What’s Best for Your Yard?

A gardening table with compost and topsoil where a homeowner is debating the differences between topsoil vs compost

Many people have questions about topsoil versus compost—namely, what exactly are they, what are the differences between them and which is best for growing beautiful flowers or thick, lush grass. Whether you’re planting a garden or simply looking for ways to help your lawn thrive, you’ve probably considered both topsoil and compost as a lawn amendment, and you might have felt confused about which would be best for your yard’s particular needs. Topsoil and compost are similar in appearance, after all—they both look a lot like regular dirt. But they aren’t the same, and while both play important roles in creating outdoor spaces that thrive, they have distinct uses and applications.

Put very simply, topsoil is the very topmost layer of soil on the ground. When people add it to their yards or gardens as a soil amendment, they usually purchase it in bags or in bulk, although you can create … Read Full Post »

How to Power Wash a Deck and Other Surfaces

A white home with a wood deck that has been power washed

A deck provides you with additional space on your property for relaxing and gathering with friends and family. In many residential areas, these spaces get a lot of use. Unfortunately, dirt, pollen, dust and other grime can build up over time, which can detract from your deck’s appearance. Fortunately, there is a solution to this problem: power washing.

Power washing (also commonly referred to as pressure washing) is a great way to maintain your deck, as it is often the most effective way to make your deck look brand new again. Pressurized water is a powerful force, and it can even loosen up ground-in dirt that’s been there for quite some time. If you’ve never used a pressure washer before, however, you should know that you can damage certain surfaces and that there are risks and dangers associated with these machines.  Once you learn how to power wash a deck, you … Read Full Post »

My AC Is Short Cycling: What Is Going On?

A white living room with a beige couch

When you turn on your air conditioner, you expect your home to become a cool and comfortable reprieve from the outdoors. This is why it would come as quite a surprise if you hear your unit shut off quickly after turning on, even though your home isn’t cooling down. After this happens a few times, you’re probably wondering what is going on and what you can do about it.

Before we get into what might be causing this to happen, it’s important to be able to recognize what is considered short cycling and what is considered normal for a typical cooling system. The cycle on a properly-working air conditioner should be roughly 15 to 20 minutes, and your system will run two to three times each hour. In very high temperatures, the cycle will be longer as the AC tries to get the home down to the correct temperature.

Short cycling, in … Read Full Post »

Why Is My Toilet Overflowing at the Tank?

A toilet with an overflowing tank in a light gray bathroom

When it comes to home repair emergencies, there is nothing quite like an overflowing toilet. The consequences can be quite serious and can include water damage, mold growth and more. Before addressing the problem, you’ll want to stop the water from flowing. Turn off the water supply to your toilet by tightening the valve that is behind the toilet on the wall. If that doesn’t help, remove the lid off your tank and lift the float that’s at the water’s surface up high enough to stop the flow of water.

Then, shut off your main water supply by closing the main valve outside near the street or by your water heater. If water continues to come out of your toilet, you are most likely dealing with a sewage backup, which is a real plumbing emergency requiring the help of a licensed professional.

If you are able to stop the flow of water, … Read Full Post »

Do Bed Bugs Smell? What Homeowners Need To Know

Decorative pillows on a gray bed

Some people wonder if bed bugs give off a particular scent that can signal their presence in the home. Others are wanting to know whether bed bugs themselves possess a sense of smell; if they do, there might be odors that bed bugs find repellent that could be used to deter them from infesting people’s homes.

Bed bugs do give off a certain, unpleasant scent when they’re disturbed, which is related to the pheromones they emit when alarmed. Some people have described it as a sweet or coriander-like scent, while others have said it’s a musty or moldy smell. This scent might not be obvious to everyone, however—some people can’t smell it at all—and it might only be detected when there are lots of bed bugs present, indicating a heavy infestation.

This means that if there are bed bugs present somewhere in your home, chances are, you won’t smell them—and if you … Read Full Post »

Do Cockroaches Bite? Your Questions Answered

A cockroach

If you find a cockroach—or even multiple cockroaches—in your home, it’s only natural to be concerned about the impact these pests can have on you and your family members. Since these creatures often seem to come out of nowhere and take you by surprise, you may have even wondered whether cockroaches bite or if they pose any other dangers.

While roaches are capable of biting us and our pets, this happens very rarely. With slightly cupped jaws that move sideways to chew food, a cockroach can technically gnaw on skin, although researchers argue that this only happens when a person is immobile and there are food particles stuck on hair and skin. These creatures would much rather feast on the food in your pantry, the leftovers on your counter or the scraps in your trash. Roaches are scavengers and omnivores and will consume practically any type of organic matter. As such, … Read Full Post »

Do Termites Have Wings? Identification Tips

A winged subterranean termite

If you have spotted a swarm of small insects flying or crawling inside your home or elsewhere on your property, you might have instantly feared a pest infestation—and then asked yourself, “Do termites have wings?” The short answer here is yes: Certain types of termites in certain stages of their life cycle do have wings.

Not all termites have wings, however, and even those that do have wings don’t keep them forever. Furthermore, there are other winged insects, such as winged ants, that are commonly and easily mistaken for termites. A professional exterminator can determine exactly what type of insect is swarming in or around your home, whether it’s a termite, a winged ant or something else altogether. There are also certain signs and characteristics that homeowners can learn to look out for in order to make an initial diagnosis on their own.

Wanting to know how to identify termites and distinguish … Read Full Post »