ABC Blog

Tarantulas: Science Fiction Stars Gone Wild

Almost everyone can identify a tarantula. The fierce-looking, hairy spiders can grow as large as dinner plates and cause arachnophobic homeowners to hug their chandeliers. They are pests to some and pets to others, and if you live in Texas, you’ll probably encounter one sooner or later. If you’re unlucky, you may find one in your yard. If your luck is even worse, one might decide to slip into your home unnoticed. In either case, you should be prepared.

What to do if You Encounter a Tarantula

First, relax. Finding a huge, hairy spider is disturbing, but tarantulas aren’t the dangerous monsters many people think they are. Compared to some of their fellow arachnids, they’re not very dangerous. They have fangs, but they rarely bite unless it’s in self-defense. If a tarantula does bite you, it would hurt like a bee sting, and you might have some mild swelling. Unless you’re severely … Read Full Post »

Could You Have a Worst-Case Plumbing Scenario On Your Hands?

What happens in the plumbing lines should stay in there. Any unscheduled surface incursion of materials that flow through those hidden pipes, whether clean or waste water, is cause for alarm for homeowners. Plumbers in San Antonio will tell you that problems can quickly turn from minor annoyance to horrifying nightmare, costing serious money to resolve.

As a homeowner, you need to pay attention to little things such as leaky faucets and groaning pipes in the walls because these could be symptoms of bigger problems.

The Toilet Runneth Over

The bathroom can present plumbing problem red flags. Leaky faucets could be the result of a worn out gasket or improper installation. Water running nonstop in a toilet may be a defective flapper. Both cases result in clean water being wasted, higher water bills and rust damage to fixtures.

A clogged toilet can flood your bathroom and render the toilet unusable, which can spell disaster … Read Full Post »

10 Tips for Pest Prevention in the Kitchen

Unless you enjoy chocolate-covered ants, the kitchen is probably the last place you want to find pests. They can chew through boxes, eat your food and litter the drawers with feces. Fortunately, there are many steps you can take to prevent them from infesting a kitchen. You might even reduce your food and energy bills in the process.

1. Keep more of your food in the refrigerator or freezer. Few pests can find their way into these appliances. Cereal and dried fruit last longer when refrigerated, but don’t put your bananas in there!

2. When possible, buy food that comes in cans or jars. Bugs and rodents can chew through plastic bags, paper and cardboard without much difficulty. Bagged frozen food is also a good option.

3. Store items like peanuts, cookies and crackers in glass jars or sturdy plastic bins. Some pests prefer a sugary diet, but all types of food are … Read Full Post »

Thermostat No-Nos

When you live in San Antonio, needing to run the AC isn’t a matter of if so much as when. However, running your HVAC system all summer long can put a lot of wear on the unit and leave you with a bill as likely to raise your temperature as the Texas heat. Fortunately, there are a few tips you can practice with your heating and cooling system that will have you saving energy and saving dollars all year long.

Don’t Freeze the Ghosts

If you’re not at home, there’s no reason to run your AC. Before you leave in the morning, turn the thermostat into the high 80s to keep it from cooling off your empty home. If you have pets, you might want to set it to turn on in the mid-80s just to keep the critters more comfortable. Program the thermostat to begin cooling your home about a half hour before you … Read Full Post »

The History of Toilets: How Modern Features Can Transform Your Bathroom

history of toilets timeline

You probably take your toilet for granted—that is, until you have a problem. How have toilets evolved over time, and what recent advances have changed the way you spend time in your bathroom?

The History of Toilets Timeline

Before the invention of flushing toilets and sophisticated plumbing, many people used chamber pots or simply used the restroom in the streets. Obviously, people of this age weren’t very sensitive to odors. The Saxons created pits in the streets with wooden seats over them. People in some countries built drains under their homes that led to rivers or primitive sewer systems. Ancient Egyptians used limestone or wooden seats with sand-filled containers under them. These primitive toilets had to be emptied by hand. People in the Indus Valley civilization built grid-patterned streets with sewers underneath. Their toilets were flushed with water.

Who Invented the Modern Toilet?

Although the invention of the modern flush toilet is sometimes attributed to … Read Full Post »

Hardscaping vs. Greenscaping: Considerations for Homeowners

drought-resistant landscaping is an eco-friendly alternative

As a San Antonio homeowner, are you sitting on the fence between greenscaping and hardscaping? Both landscaping forms have advantages and disadvantages, yet choosing either can be an environmentally sound and smart decision.

If the fence hurts your derriere, weighing the following considerations might help you jump down on the side of greenscaping, which involves building a sustainable landscape from the soil up, or hardscaping, which utilizes rock, concrete, wood and other hard materials to reduce a yard’s negative environmental impact.

Cost

If you fall off the fence, hard landing surfaces generally cost more to establish than soft. The materials to create or remodel a hardscape cost more than greenery costs, but hardscape costs you little, if anything, after it’s established. Inversely, greenscapes cost less to start, but your cost carries across years of nurturing, maintaining and replenishing greenery. Fence sitters: Would you rather pay up front or over time?

Maintenance

Maintaining hardscapes involves little work. If … Read Full Post »

DIY Plumbing: Good Idea, Bad Idea

Did you ever wake from a sound sleep because of an annoying drip coming from the next room? You probably know that if you don’t fix a leaky faucet, you won’t get a good night’s sleep until you stop the drip. Even if you have the tools and expertise to fix a minor plumbing problem, you may be too busy to tackle the job until the weekend, and by then, you’re likely to be exhausted from lack of sleep. A San Antonio plumber can take care of minor plumbing problems as well as major troubles quickly and efficiently and help get your life back to normal again.

If you’re handy with tools and have plenty of time, you may want to replace a faucet, repair a small leak or unclog a drain without getting help from an expert. If you’re confident about your ability, you may save money by doing those … Read Full Post »

Air Conditioning History Timeline

air conditioning history timeline

It’s hard to imagine a hot Texas summer with sweltering temperatures consistently topping 100 degrees without air conditioning. As citizens of a modern world, perhaps we’ve become spoiled in our expectations of daily amenities, and this got us thinking: who was the genius that invented the modern air conditioning system?

That question turned out to be a little more difficult to answer than we thought. The “invention” of air conditioning was not so much one single “Aha!” moment, but rather several ideas over a few hundred years that got us to the modern HVAC system that we all know and love. Below is a brief air conditioning history timeline to explain how the air conditioner parts and functions have evolved.

Ancient Egypt: Where It All Got Started?

Ancient Egyptians are vaguely credited as being the first to use evaporative cooling by hanging wet cloth or reeds in windows and doorways. As the wind blew … Read Full Post »

Use the Sun to Cool Your Home This Summer

With another scorching San Antonio summer approaching, you’re probably not looking forward to seeing your electric bills escalate from using your air conditioner. We have a solution that can not only lower your power bills, but also use those sizzling rays to your advantage: a cooling system powered by solar panels.

How Solar Panels Work

Our cooling systems work with photovoltaic panels, also called PV panels, which consist of silicon and non-reflective glass. The PV panels harness and store photons from the sun’s rays and then convert these particles into electrical power. Similar to a battery, the PV panel first converts the photons into DC power, which is sent to an inverter that converts it to AC power that can be used to run an air conditioning unit, as well as other household devices.

How Solar-Powered Cooling Systems Work

Most of our residential customers choose a grid-tied PV system, which uses a combination of … Read Full Post »

Hidden Dangers in Your Home: Outdated Breaker Panels

Most homeowners know where to find their circuit breaker panel or box, but not everyone is aware of how important this box is in your home. All of the electricity that is supplied to your home runs through that panel. The breakers are designed to automatically shut off in dangerous situations like an electrical short or overload. But some older panels may not have the same safety features that newer models have and can even make some electrical issues worse.

Most concerning is the fact that older panels can actually be a fire hazard. If an older panel is overloaded, it may generate enough heat to start a small fire. Electrical fires are notoriously difficult to put out, and a small fire can spread rapidly. Since most breaker panels are in garages or other remote locations in the home, a fire can get out of hand before it is even detected.

Older … Read Full Post »