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What Is a Roof Rat?

a roof rat in a house

Roof rats can cause severe damage to your home and landscaping. They move swiftly through the night to find food and water sources, often gnawing on your walls, pipes, wiring and plants along the way.

It’s important to know how to identify roof rats versus other rat species because they have different habits and diets from other rodents. When you spot a roof rat colony in your home, you need to deal with it right away to avoid further damage, disease and stress to your home and your family.

Keep reading to learn what is a roof rat, how to detect them, their eating habits and how to get rid of an infestation.

What Do Roof Rats Look Like?

Roof rats are easy to recognize because of their extra long tail and slender body. Their sleek fur is either dark brown or black, and some may have white or grey underbelly fur. They also … Read Full Post »

Where To See the Best Austin Christmas Lights

the Austin trail of lights

As the holiday season approaches, many Central Texans wonder about where to find the best Austin Christmas lights displays. Everyone loves the holidays, and they’re even better with festive, twinkly lights to warm up the chilly evenings as you spend quality time with family and friends.

Best of all, Austin has a wide variety of places and ways to enjoy Christmas lights. From small, intimate neighborhood displays to ticketed events boasting spectacular winter wonderlands, there’s something for every Central Texan. Just remember that a little advance planning goes a long way. Austin’s most popular ticketed holiday events sell out quickly. Even the free, smaller neighborhood lights displays can draw nightly traffic and crowds of revelers, so be sure to plan accordingly.

Here are some of the best Austin Christmas lights displays, from incredible neighborhood displays to spectacular ticketed events with millions of sparkling LED bulbs:

Why Is My Toilet Leaking at the Base?

a toilet leaking at the base

If you find water pooling on the floor around your toilet, you want it fixed as soon as possible. Any water leak is cause for concern. Water leaks can damage flooring, baseboards and cabinets and drive up utility bills. Fortunately, if you find your toilet leaking at base, it can be fixed relatively easily by a qualified plumber. This is also a job that capable DIY homeowners can often handle on their own.

If your toilet is leaking at the base, it’s important to make sure you know exactly where the water is coming from. Sometimes, you’ll see water on the floor around the toilet and assume it’s coming from the base. But really, it’s dripping down from the tank. It may also be coming from the water supply lines that run between the toilet and the wall.

One way to check that the water is actually leaking from the base of … Read Full Post »

How to Conserve Water

a sprinkler

About 70% of the Earth’s surface is water. Many people want to do their part to use less water, but it can feel like a daunting task. However, saving a little H2O here and there can add up quickly, and it is easier than you might think. You can use less water without much effort or big changes in your lifestyle.

A very simple way to reduce your water use is to switch from baths to showers. A good soak is relaxing, but it can take almost 80 gallons of water to fill your tub! Showers use far less water and are more efficient for getting clean. Teaching your family to turn off the faucet while brushing teeth or shaving also helps more than you might think.

Using Appliances to Conserve

You can also save some water by using less in the toilet. If you have a high-efficiency model, you are already conserving. … Read Full Post »

Black Mice: Identification and Control Guide

a black mouse

If you’ve spotted black mice in your home or around your property, you’re probably wondering how to get rid of them—fast. The good news is, there is no special trick to it. Black mice aren’t a special type of mice. If you see a black mouse, it’s probably a regular house mouse with darker fur. House mice can have fur ranging from brownish to light gray, to dark gray or nearly black in color.

Getting rid of house mice is similar to controlling other mouse populations. You have to use traps, close off their entry points and get rid of whatever is attracting them. The bad news is, mice can be very hard to control without professional help.

A big problem with mice is that they are very prolific. A single female house mouse has multiple babies at a time and multiple litters each year. This means she can have 30 or … Read Full Post »

What Do Bed Bug Bites Look Like?

bed bug bites on a leg

We all know that insects outdoors can sting or bite, leaving marks on people’s skin. However, that isn’t the only place you might come across biting bugs. Some of them thrive in and prefer life indoors as well, especially in bed linens and other clothing.

Bed bugs can get at any part of your body. That said, their bites are generally found on the neck, face, hands, arms, legs and shoulders, places where skin may be exposed while asleep. These bites generally show up in clusters of three to five or more and form a sort of zigzag pattern on the body. If you wake up to find little red bumps that weren’t there when you went to bed, your best bet is to call in a licensed pest control professional. They can determine what has invaded your space and get rid of them the best way possible.

Another tricky thing about … Read Full Post »

My Fridge Is Leaking Water: What’s Wrong?

water on hardwood floor from a fridge leaking water

When you find your fridge leaking water, don’t ignore it. Beyond the simple annoyance of the mess on your floor, a leak is a sign of a problem with your refrigerator that needs attention. The leak could also damage your floors, cabinets and baseboards, which can be very expensive to fix.

Fortunately, there aren’t many different causes of a leaking fridge. Many common reasons why fridges leak are actually relatively simple and inexpensive fixes.

Leaky or Frozen Water Supply Line

One of the most common causes of a refrigerator leak is a leaky or frozen water supply line. If this is the issue, you may also notice other symptoms besides the leak. The fridge’s water dispenser may not work right, or the ice trays might not fill completely.

If you pull the fridge out from the wall, you’ll see the plastic hose running between the refrigerator and the wall. This is … Read Full Post »

Types of Christmas Lights

christmas lights on a house

Christmas is a time for cheer and togetherness. A time for friends and families to spend time together and enjoy the warmth of the season. A big part of that warmth is the beautiful glow of Christmas lights. If you are looking to have your own display this holiday season, you should know what’s out there.

Mini String Lights

This type of bulb is the type you probably think of when you think of Christmas lights. They offer a couple of benefits over other types. The bulbs are generally the least expensive of all choices, easier to find and offer a brighter glow. On the downside, the mini string lights use more electricity, have a shorter lifespan and pose a larger threat of starting a fire. This type of bulb can also burst when temperatures drop below freezing.

LED Lights

Gaining traction on the mini lights are strings that feature LED lights. You can … Read Full Post »

What Is Lawn Aeration?

a lawn that has been partially aerated

Lawn care includes a list of maintenance tasks, some performed as needed, others monthly and still others every year. One of these annual jobs to get your yard in the best shape possible is aeration.

By definition, aeration is the introduction of air into a material. In this case, the material is the dirt in your lawn. Most lawns could use a good aeration regularly as long as it is done at the right time and in the right way.

Why Aerate Your Lawn?

Over time, the dirt in your yard will pack down due to people walking on it, mowers driving over it and other activities. When the dirt becomes packed down, grass roots can’t get what they need to grow. Even one-quarter of an inch of compacted dirt will block the air, nutrients and water necessary for your grass to be its healthiest.

The situation is even more of an issue if … Read Full Post »

My Garbage Disposal Is Spinning but Not Draining

a garbage disposal that is spinning but not draining

A garbage disposal is one of the most valuable conveniences in the modern kitchen. Mounted below the sink drain, the garbage disposal uses several blades that spin like propellers to grind solid food waste into bits. These small bits are washed away through a grey-water plumbing system.

The garbage disposal reduces waste odors and makes kitchen clean-up significantly quicker and easier.

Until it stops working, that is.

There are a number of reasons that a disposal might stop working. Luckily, most have simple fixes that a homeowner can troubleshoot themselves. More severe issues may require the help of a licensed professional, who can do so quickly and with minimal disturbance.

A garbage disposal that has stopped working will often prevent your sink from draining. And, unground matter in the unit can clog your system until it has been cleared.

Sometimes a garbage disposal will sound like it’s working properly (you can hear the blades spinning). … Read Full Post »