ABC Blog

From AC to Heat: How to Ensure a Flawless Change of Seasons

It’s time to tune-up your furnace as summer-time humidity and temperatures begin to drop and the cool weather approaches. You don’t want to turn your furnace on when the first cold front blows in only to find that it’s not heating properly.

Every Houston HVAC system needs periodic maintenance to ensure that all components are working. Regular maintenance reduces the possibility of sudden breakdowns and costly repairs. Keeping the system working properly also reduces energy usage and lowers utility bills. Some routine maintenance is easy for the homeowner to do. Some tasks, however, are best left to the professionals.

Cleaning filters can be done by the homeowner and is one of the most important regular maintenance tasks. Clogged filters make a unit work harder and compromise indoor air quality. Regular cleaning removes allergens, bacteria, mold and dust. Replace filters as recommended by the manufacturer.

An improperly installed thermostat may cause a unit to … Read Full Post »

House Flies In Winter: Do Flies Hibernate in the Winter?

house flies in winter

What’s that buzzing around your kitchen? What is your dog chasing around the living room? What came in when you left the back door open too long? In many cases, the answer is the same: a fly.

Have you ever noticed that house flies seem to disappear during the winter months? How do they manage to virtually vanish in the cold weather and then reappear in full force once weather starts to warm up? Read on to find out.

What Flies Do During The Winter

Adult house flies in winter spend their days in cracks and crevices, away from humans. In the spring, these flies lay eggs on decaying materials. Although this behavior can be compared to hibernation, the truth is that flies do not spend the winter months in a deep sleep like some animals, including some species of turtles, snakes, bats, hummingbirds, ladybugs, skunks and frogs. The cluster fly and other … Read Full Post »

West Nile Virus Still Prevalent in Harris County

A mild winter combined with rain in Harris County has created a favorable climate for mosquitoes. This has led to an increase in the number of people infected with West Nile virus— several people have died from the disease. The virus spreads primarily through the bite of an infected mosquito. In rare cases, the virus spreads through blood transfusions, breastfeeding, from mother to baby during pregnancy and through organ transplants.

Symptoms of West Nile virus appear between three and 14 days after a person is bitten by an infected mosquito. Four out of five people (about 80%) infected with the virus do not show any symptoms. 20% will exhibit mild symptoms:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Body aches
  • Swollen lymph glands or skin rash

People over the age of 50 and those with a weak immune system have a high risk of getting severely sick. About one in 150 cases experiences severe symptoms:

  • Muscle weakness
  • Loss of vision
  • High fever
  • Disorientation, stupor or … Read Full Post »

Use your iPhone for Tracking Bed Bugs!

In recent years, bed bugs have become a widespread problem in many cities across the United States. Houston is no exception, with hotels and multi-family residential buildings such as apartments among the hardest hit. Even if you live in a single-family home, you’re also vulnerable to bed bugs, as guests may bring them in or the pests may stow away in your luggage when you return home from a vacation. The best prevention against bed bugs is avoiding places that have been infested by them. If you are an iPhone user, you will find the Bed Bug Alert app very handy for keeping away from the pests.

Designed by Apps Genius, Bed Bug Alert is an interactive, user-friendly app that allows you to perform a number of actions from your iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad equipped with iOS 3.2 or newer. First, you may set your location so that you only … Read Full Post »

Why is My Pool Green? How to Keep Your Water Crystal Clear

My above ground pool is green

One of the best ways to beat the heat on a hot summer day is to go for a swim. If you have your own pool, you know that maintenance is no small task. The last thing you want as a pool owner is to discover that your pool water is green and cloudy instead of crystal clear.

Why is My Pool Green?

Keeping a pool looking clean and clear requires paying special attention to the water chemistry. Let’s discuss the three basic factors in pool operation—physical, chemical and biological—how they impact the color of your water and what to do if your pool water becomes cloudy and green.

Pool Filtration & Circulation

The most basic part of your pool’s operation is your filtration system, which is responsible for keeping your water clean. The filters in your pool should remove dirt and debris which make their way into your pool from the air or from your … Read Full Post »

Houston’s Humidity & Your Health

Air conditioning in Houston keeps local residents cool during spring, summer and fall. Unfortunately, humidity in Houston coupled with the moisture produced by some air conditioning units can create hazardous mold inside residents’ homes. This substance can cause several health problems, and some are very serious.

Allergies & Irritations

Mold spores often trigger allergic reactions. This occurs both in healthy people and those who are prone to allergies. Irritated eyes, throat and nose are also common symptoms. Many people who breathe in airborne mold spores complain of sinus congestion.

Infections

When people are constantly exposed to mold spores indoors, their problems will escalate beyond irritations and allergies. Continuous exposure leaves a person vulnerable to respiratory infections and bronchitis. These conditions may become chronic.

Mycosis

If a person has a weak immune system, mold spores may grow on living tissue inside that individual’s body. This causes a systemic infection of the digestive tract, lungs, skin or sinuses. … Read Full Post »

Love Your Lawn…Without Chinch Bugs

It starts when you notice just a slight yellowing of your once lush lawn. At first you consider the recent lack of rain, but the yellowing continues to spread and turns your prized lawn into an eyesore. A healthy lawn that turns to an ugly yellow is one sign that a homeowner is dealing with a chinch bug infestation.

Chinch bugs are lawn pests that feed on healthy grass. The pests use a straw-like part of their mouths to drink the juice of a blade of grass while simultaneously injecting harmful chemicals into the plant. The result of a chinch bug infestation is a yellow, unhealthy lawn that is typically most damaged in areas that are exposed to sunlight.

Identifying whether there is a chinch bug infestation is a matter of investigating the grass near the soil. Chinch bugs tend to be more active on hot days in the summer and in … Read Full Post »

Houston Bees Mean Business

Bees can inflict painful stings, and some people are extremely allergic to them. In fact, those who have never been stung could be at high risk, as they may not even know they are allergic. In Houston, several types of bees are commonly found. Honeybees, carpenter bees, bumblebees, stingless bees and Africanized honeybees are common. Africanized honeybees are also called killer bees because of their extreme aggression. Bees are essential to the earth’s ecosystem, but their growing population has resulted in the need for pest control in Houston.

Encountering A Beehive

When bees are spotted, it is best to avoid getting too close to the hive in order to identify the bees. These flying insects will sting intruders, but only if they come too close. The best thing to do is run away fast. Intruders who stop to stare at a beehive may not get stung right away. However, the bees protecting … Read Full Post »

Insects in the Garden: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

Guest Post By Woodrow D. Weasel on his blog Ground Breaking Tips

LINK TO SHARE:  http://goo.gl/RbxOX

Gardens are amazing tiny worlds. Just like in our macro-size earth, maintaining a delicate balance is essential to a healthy micro-ecosystem. This is even true of the bugs!

The important thing is – get educated. Know your bugs. Don’t assume they are all bad. There are many beneficial insects that play an important role in the health of your garden. It’s also advantageous to understand their purpose so you can find natural ways to deal with them. Chemical remedies can be a last resort.

Generally speaking, if a bug is bad, it has a predator that is good and can work with you to get rid of it. All it takes is a little bit of knowledge and being able to identify which bugs are good, which ones are bad and which ones are just plain ugly. Then you will … Read Full Post »

Houston Landscape Design

Preparing the plans for an Houston landscape design of your yard can be daunting, but starting with the basics can take away from of the pressure. The most basic question might be, “What will I plant?” The best choices for North Texas landscaping are the obvious ones: the ones that can handle this Texas heat! So, what are the top 5 Landscape Plants for North Central Texas?

 

The top 5 perennial Landscape Plants for Central Texas

Salvia (Salvia greggii)
Salvia is native to the Trans Pecos of Texas, favoring the limestone outcrops and canyon lands of the area. Salvia comes in a wide variety of colors from white, to pinks and reds. It is a small, shrubby plant with fragrant leaves. The flowers bloom all summer long and into the fall. It prefers full sun. With too much shade it will become leggy. Cut it back to the main stem in January or February, to … Read Full Post »