Fall Floods And Soggy Soil: Texas Home Foundation’s Enemy

flash flood

Everyone fears a hurricane’s gale force winds and flash flooding rains. When a these natural disasters happen, Texans can see the damage. What about the damage that goes unseen? Often this is the bigger enemy to the average home. Fall flooding and soggy soil can slowly, but surely, damage a Texas home’s foundation. This may happen over years with each passing flood and many lesser rains. Unfortunately, it can also happen suddenly with enough flooding.

Homes on Flat Grounds

Texas homes tend to be on flat ground, and the water has nowhere to go. It can stand in one place, puddling above ground. However, it can also seep away and puddle underground. This is more dangerous to the house foundation because it means that there is a gap within the ground itself. As the sink hole forms, gravity starts to pull the ground above downward. This is gradual and the force is just enough to unsettle even the best homes.

Sandy and Soggy Soils

Texas is made up of many regions, but it’s safe to say that most Texas homes are built on a soil that does not hold moisture well. Aridisol, a common Texas soil type, is dry and sandy. This does not hold water well. As a result, water can cause a disturbance underground leaving the house above to sink and settle. Another common Texas soil type, vertisol, contains clay. In Texas, this is often recognizable in to its black or red form. The clay composition means that it can absorb quantities of water, growing as it does so. Then it can dry out, shrinking and cracking as it does so. Again a house built with enough vertisol in the soil is not on truly solid ground. Clay is often the subsoil and it is not always visible to someone walking the grounds. It exists below several layers of better dirt, but the clay is still there, shrinking and swelling with every rain.

Pay Attention to the Signs

Getting to the foundation before it actually sinks is always a good idea. The key is to spot the tell-tale signs before the foundation sinks enough to become troublesome. The doors and the windows often tell the story before the floor starts to sink or wall cracks start to appear. Doors that suddenly seem like they don’t hang right may be a signal that the house is shifting. The door frame isn’t quite right anymore and the door is indicating it.

Know When to Bring in the Pros

If a Texas home is subject to constant flooding, even for a short period of time, it is a good idea to have a foundation inspection. Home owners can’t always recognize the signs, but an expert can locate any trouble spots. An expert has the equipment to check for sink holes, soil composition, and other indications of trouble. A home is often the family’s biggest investment. Assessing it for damage regularly should also include a check on the foundation. After all, if the foundation sinks, the interior damage can be catastrophic. Then the home’s value will sink catastrophically as well. It’s just smarter and more forward-thinking to assess regular after fall flooding.

Peter Wendt, native Texan, found that recent flash flooding had caused his home’s foundation to need repairs. He contacted this foundation company in San Antonio for help.

How The Energy Rates In Texas Compare To Other States In The US

In this article you will learn more about the average prices of energy rates in each state as it compares to Texas. These numbers will show you just how much is typically spent on energy in each state; with these numbers you will get a better understanding of just how much each household spends on average.

Entering Texas Sign

The Numbers Do Not Lie

In 2011, the statewide average price for all sectors from all of the electric utilities based on the latest federal figures in the numbers below, Texas really does not come close to what some of the other states offer at lower prices per kWh. With the national average being $9.00 per KwH, it is clear that there is not much of a savings according to the numbers just 2 years ago.

  1. Idaho 6.44
  2. Wyoming 6.58
  3. Washington 6.78
  4. Utah 7.13
  5. Kentucky 7.17
  6. Arkansas 7.43
  7. North Dakota 7.50
  8. Iowa 7.56
  9. Louisiana 7.68
  10. Oklahoma 7.80
  11. Nebraska 7.88
  12. West Virginia 7.88
  13. Indiana 8.01
  14. Oregon 8.04
  15. South Dakota 8.05
  16. Montana 8.23
  17. Missouri 8.32
  18. North Carolina 8.64
  19. Minnesota 8.65
  20. New Mexico 8.74
  21. Mississippi 8.78
  22. South Carolina 8.80
  23. Virginia 8.84
  24. Kansas 8.89
  25. Illinois 8.97
  26. Nevada 8.97
  27. Texas 9.00
  28. Ohio 9.03
  29. Alabama 9.10
  30. Tennessee 9.28
  31. Colorado 9.39
  32. Georgia 9.61
  33. Arizona 9.71

National Average 9.90

  1. Wisconsin 10.21
  2. Michigan 10.40
  3. Pennsylvania 10.45
  4. Florida 10.61
  5. Delaware 11.48
  6. Maryland 11.93
  7. Maine 12.58
  8. District of Columbia 12.81
  9. Rhode Island 13.04
  10. California 13.05
  11. Vermont 13.80
  12. Massachusetts 14.11
  13. New Jersey 14.30
  14. New Hampshire 14.74
  15. New York 15.89
  16. Alaska 16.08
  17. Connecticut 16.35
  18. Hawaii 31.59

What does this mean for you?

Electric Meter

Comparatively speaking, the price is on the higher end by looking at the lower priced energy providers but it is still lower than those states that charge $10 plus and higher; look at Hawaii, that just leaves a very bad taste in my mouth for a place that is supposed to generate thoughts of paradise and relaxation overall.

While you may not be able to overlook the fact that Texas is not as good in price as one might have thought without the knowledge of the numbers above, there is not a case of having sticker shock.

Although, the numbers do not lie and they speak loud enough, I think there is still much more to this than the numbers. One thing that Texas has in comparison to some states like Maryland and California, they have the option of picking their energy provider; essentially finding your own provider allows you to have some say in how much you spend each month on your energy bill. This is an advantage that can outweigh the cost of your bill each month; it all depends on you and how you look at the whole scheme of things.

Author Bio: Jason is a chemical engineer working in a firm in Dallas Texas. He occasionally writes about his political views and how prices has gone up over the years for various day to day products. He recently moved in Texas and was comparing Energy Rates in Texas over other states which made him write this resourceful article.

5 Ways To Kill Bed Bugs

kill bedbugs

There are many opinions on the best ways to get rid of bed bugs. They are hard to kill, not because they are exceptionally strong creatures, but because they are excellent at hiding and it is virtually impossible to find all of their hiding spots. For this reason, several techniques have been developed that work, but have some unsavory side effects. Also, the effectiveness of some is in question due to the simple fact that these critters are great at finding places to hide away from the danger until it is safe to come out again. What are the options, and how do you know which one or ones will work best for you?

Pesticide Sprays

This may very well be the most common form of bed bug extermination, and maybe one of the least effective. The problem with spray, other than the fact that is exposes you and those you love to dangerous chemicals, is that is only works where the spray is. You can spray mattresses and other places where the bugs are known to have been, but they can hide in walls and come out through air vents. You can spray into the vents but how far it will go, determining how effective it is, is questionable. Still, due to the cost effectiveness and the fact that success is often had, spraying for bed bugs is a popular option that should not be ruled out completely. It should always be done by a professional however, not only to increase effectiveness but also to ensure safety.

Mattress Encasement

Encasing the mattress in plastic is an option that actually works pretty great for killing the bugs on the mattress. The plastic is effective at suffocating them. However, any bugs that are not on the mattress are not going to be handled and will still be free to roam and suck.

Pesticide Dust

This is an alternative to sprays that is most effective when used in conjunction with the spray. It tends to stick around longer, so it is not ideal for areas with heavy human traffic. However, it is perfect for settling into cracks and crevices that bed bugs creep out of and catching them as they enter. The dusting must be light however, or else the bugs will simple go around the powder.

Freezing

Freezing is a safe and non-toxic way to get rid of bed bugs. The bugs are killed on contact with the temperatures of -108 degrees Fahrenheit. The process is dry and all furniture can be used immediately.

Heat Treatment For Bed bugs

Heat treatment for bed bugs is an option that does require leaving ones home for a time, and some furniture and electronics must be removed, but it is in an option that is ideal for major infestations. According to Bed Bug Finders, LLC, the reason for this is that it does the job and does it well. There are two different methods, one using steam heat and the other using thermal heat. While there can be a bit of an inconvenience, each type of heat treatment for bed bugs is highly effective.

Killing bed bugs is not an easy task. They are sneaky and hard to detect with the human eye. Hopefully these suggestions will give you some options should you ever have to deal with them.

Faith Stewart 

Happy Halloween From Your Friends At Bulwark Exterminating

Halloween is upon us. Soon enough we’ll have waves of ghosts, goblins and princess fairies crawling our streets. Your friends at Bulwark would like to remind you to have a very safe and happy Halloween. Be safe. Have fun. Eat lots of candy.

Take a moment to enjoy our new Halloween video. We certainly hope this won’t be happening at your house.

Infographic: The Brown Recluse

Brown Recluse On Wall

In the state of Texas, one of the most feared pests (if not the most feared) is the Brown Recluse spider. Unfortunately, there are many reasons to fear this dangerous spider. A Brown Recluse spider bite can cause painful skin lesions where the skin will actually rot. It’s a condition called necrosis, and is just one side effect of the Brown Recluse’s toxic venom.

A bite by a Brown Recluse spider can lead to expensive medical bills. Case in point: A Brown Recluse Bite Costs Woman $1 Million in Medical Bills.

When it comes to spiders found in the home, we can’t be too careful if the spider even resembles that of a Brown Recluse.

The following infographic, put together by the spider control professionals at Bulwark Exterminating, helps us understand the Brown Recluse:

Infographic: The Brown Recluse

brown recluse

brown recluse

San Antonio Brown Recluse Spider Control

When it comes to the Brown Recluse spider, there are actually 7 steps to take to prevent Brown Recluse Spider bites. Take these precautions, and do these steps. If you are still seeing Brown Recluse spiders inside your San Antonio home, or anywhere near your property, it’s time to call some San Antonio Brown Recluse spider control professionals. Brown Recluse spiders are actually one of the more difficult spider pests to treat. Make sure you do some research online, thoroughly looking through pest control company reviews, and make sure the spider control professionals you choose are up-to-date on all the most recent Brown Recluse control methods. We recommend:

Bulwark Exterminating
118 Broadway Street
San Antonio, TX 78205
(210) 224-2706
bulwarkpestcontrol.com
 
San Antonio Chimney & Wildlife
333 West Olmos Drive #123
San Antonio, TX 78212
(210) 607-0347
texaschimneywildlife.com
 
Critter Control
1075 Grassland Drive
Bulverde, TX 78163
(830) 438-6108
crittercontrol.com

5 Interesting Facts About Tarantulas Physiological Features

Desert Tarantula In Hand

Tarantulas may be big, hairy spiders, but they have some physiological features that truly set them apart from other arachnids. Unlike most spiders, tarantulas are fairly non-aggressive towards humans, although they are natural born killers when it comes to other insects, mice, birds, and frogs. Below we’ll discuss five interesting facts that you probably didn’t know about tarantula’s physiological makeup.

Tarantulas Can Grow Up to 10 Inches

Tarantulas are some of the world’s largest, with some species growing up to 10 inches at full leg span, or approximately the size of a dinner plate. It’s no wonder movie directors display these fuzzy arachnids in horror flicks – can you imagine a spider the size of a dinner plate heading toward you?

Tarantulas Throw Needle-like Barbed Hairs in Self-Defense

Tarantulas rarely bite people, but if they feel threatened they will use their back legs to scrape barbed hairs from their abdomens and fling them and the so-called threat. Sound strange? It gets stranger – you’ll definitely know if you’ve been hit, as these barbed hairs tend to cause rashes. Some people suffer severe allergic reactions. Not that the tarantula gets off scott free – it ends up with a nice bald spot on its belly.

A Fall Can Kill a Tarantula

Tarantulas actually have thin skins, especially around the abdomen. A fall from even a short height can cause a fatal rupture in the spider’s exoskeleton. This is the number one reason why it’s recommended that you never handle a tarantula – it’s easy to get spooked when this large, hairy spider species is crawling on your hand, and the knee-jerk reaction is to drop it, which can result in the spider’s death.

Tarantulas Have Retractable Claws on Each Leg

Evolution didn’t leave tarantulas totally defenseless against the risk of falling – in order to provide them with a good grip, they have a retractable claw at the end of each leg to help them climb. Most tarantulas stay on the ground, but some climb up into trees or on other objects, which is when the retractable claws come in handy. In this aspect tarantulas are rather cat-like – by extending their claws, they can get a better grip on the surface they are climbing.

Tarantulas Can Regenerate Lost Legs

Tarantulas molt throughout their lives, giving them the ability to repair injured parts of their bodies. If a tarantula happens to lose a leg, a new one will grow in its place by the next time it molts. Depending on its age and how much time passes by before the tarantula’s next molt, the leg may be a bit smaller than the rest, but over time it should catch up with the rest of the spider’s body. Sometimes tarantulas eat their own severed legs in order to recycle protein.

Tarantulas have very interesting and unique physiological qualities which set them apart from other spiders. Though fairly harmless, if you’ve noticed an outbreak of tarantulas around your home, you might want to call in a pest control professional to check things out.

About the author: Chris is a professional for a ct pest control company. The movie Archanaphobia scared the daylights out of him as a kid, and although he doesn’t like spiders, they don’t freak him out anymore.

Termites 101: A Basic Primer on Termites and Termite Inspection

When anyone mentions the word “termite”, images of damaged homes usually come to mind. And rightly so as termites feed on wood, and wood is the number one material used to build homes in the U.S. But just what are termites, what do they do to wood, what can be done about them, and how does termite inspection help homeowners?

Meet Mr. and Ms. Termitoidae

Worker Termites on Rotten Wood

The scientific name for a termite is termitoidae. Not every termite is bad, as many feed on dead leaves and plants, soil, animal waste, and some forms of wood. But the destructive kind can cause havoc on crops, forests, trees, and significant damage to homes and buildings.

Termites are social animals that live in colonies numbering from a few hundred to a million or more. These insects live in different types of environments and form colonies underground, in large pieces of timber or wood, in mounds above ground, in trees, and in the wood of buildings.

Some species of termites are “polycalic” or form more than one nest. As a result of this behavior, termites are sometimes hard to get rid of because they form multiple nests throughout an area. One nest may be eliminated from a home, but the underground tunnels that termites form are connect to other nests and reinfect the original location.

Subterranean and dry-wood termite species are the ones responsible for damage to buildings and homes, and these pests must be detected to prevent serious long-term damage to property. They literally eat up the wood in a home and cause extensive damage by weakening and destroying the beams, walls, floors, and joists.

How Do I Detect A Termite Problem?

Termite Evidence

Termite Evidence

Termites are shy creatures and rarely make a public appearance in the open because they are usually tunneling underground or infesting the wood of buildings. Although a termite inspection by a pest control expert is the best way to find out if your home is infested, there are also some common tip-offs that may indicate there is a termite problem:

Mud tubes: These look like long quarter-inch diameter tubes running up and down outside walls, fences, floor joists, and other similar structures; they appear brown in color like mud. There are many stands of tubes, are hollow, and serve as a transportation system between underground termite nests and the upper levels where buildings are.

If a mud tube is broken, inspect the inside to see if small, cream-colored insects are there. If there are, these are worker termites.

Insect swarms: In some cases termites are mistaken for ants. During the warmer months of the year, termites swarm and can be identified by their cream-colored bodies, small wings, and narrow-long shapes.

Little holes and residue: The telltale signs that termites may be present in a building are little holes appearing in plaster or drywall. If termites are present, there will be small bits of soil that line the rim of the hole.

Wood that has been damaged by termites may appear sunken or dented and may be weak or soft when pushed upon. There may also be “sawdust” or dirt in and around wood.

Solving The Problem

Pest Control Tech Termite Damage

If you suspect that your home has a termite infestation, the best way to approach this potential problem is to call a professional pest exterminator for a termite inspection of the premises. He or she can tell you if your home or building is infested with termites.

The solution for termite elimination are varied and can incorporate insecticides, soil treatment, fumigation of the premises, or green methods using natural oils from fruits and plants, or by using methods to disrupt the insect’s digestion through the use of certain strains of microbes. For new home builders who want to greatly reduce the risk of a termite infestation before it even happens, there are several pre-construction treatment options available.

Check with your pest control professional to see what options are available to you.

Author Bio

Frank Ling writes for websites and companies and thinks it is fun to learn about so many different things, while on the job. His favorite food is anchovy pizza—something that not many others seem to appreciate; but he finds that there are always more slices left for him to eat.

 

Live Brown Snake Found In Toilet

Toilet Snake

Photo Courtesy: Facebook

Most of us don’t see a brown snake in the toilet until after we’ve done our business; so imagine the horror of looking down and seeing a live brown snake wrapped around the toilet bowl, before you’ve done your big job!

That’s exactly what happened to Bruce Ahlswede in a San Antonio Starbucks last week, proving once and for all that toilet snakes do exist!

Toilet Snakes In Starbucks: Would You Like Snakes With Your Coffee?

Toilet snakes in Starbucks isn’t the next B-list Hollywood movie; a follow up to the 2006 hit Snakes On A Plane, but was one’ mans experience at a San Antonio Starbucks.

After a business presentation, Bruce Ahlswede decided to stop in to a San Antonio Starbucks for a latte and a bathroom break. Upon entering the Starbucks bathroom he was utterly shocked when he saw a brown snake curled up around and inside the toilet bowl.

At first the snake appeared to be a fake. A plastic snake used to pull off a prank. Then, the snake slithered, proving that it was indeed real! Upon finding the live brown snake, Ahlswede bolted out of the bathroom and alerted the nearest Starbucks’ employee.

A crowed gathered around the toilet to see what all the commotion was about. The snake must have been shy; slithering around the toilet bowl and eventually disappearing. The above photo was taken by Mrs. Ahlswede, before the snake disappeared, and posted on Facebook so that we all may be aware of the possibilities of brown snakes in the toilet.

What Type Of Live Brown Snake Is Found In A Toilet?

Experts agree that it’s very uncommon to find live brown snakes in your toilet. In the rare chance of finding a live toilet snake; it may give you the runs… you’d run out the door! The live toilet snake that was found in a San Antonio Starbucks’ bathroom appears to be a brown rat snake. These snakes are not poisonous, but can bite if they feel threatened.

It is proposed that the brown rat snake slithered up into the toilet through the pipes; but many experts also suspect that this snake could’ve been somebody’s pet that was abandoned in the coffee shop. If so, what a sick joke!

Next time you use a public toilet, better check for a toilet snake. Better safe than sorry!

Author Bio:

Thomas Bulwark is a lively blogger for Bulwark Exterminating, an industry leader in providing high quality pest control. After reporting this toilet snake story, I’ll be double checking every public toilet I use from here on out!

5 Low-Maintenance Plants To Keep The Mosquitoes Away

Mosquito

Mosquitoes can be a real issue, especially during the hotter, more humid times of the year. There’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy the weather or go about your day than being hassled by blood sucking mosquitoes.

There are a number of things that you can do to try and keep mosquitoes from eating you alive, such as using mosquito repellent, turning on your fans and lighting citronella candles. However, these are all short-term solutions. For a long-term solution, you should consider introducing a few naturally mosquito repelling plants.

The following are five plants that are not only mosquito repelling; they are also easy to grow and to maintain:

1. Citronella

Citronella

Many people will use citronella-scented candles to get rid of mosquitoes, so it’s only natural that the citronella plant will do the same – except it won’t burn out after a period of time like a candle will. The citronella plant provides a distinctive aroma that covers up nearby smells that tend to attract mosquitoes, which will make it more difficult for mosquitoes to find you. Citronella can be grown wherever frost does not occur. It’s a perennial grass that grows to between roughly five or six feet. If you do live in an area with frost, you can grow the Citronella in a pot or planter and simply move it indoors during the colder periods of the year.

2. Marigolds

Marigolds

The great thing about marigolds is that they will not only provide your home with a natural mosquito repellent, they will also make the area you plant them in look absolutely beautiful. These annual plants contain Pyrethrum, which releases an odor that mosquitoes hate. Pyrethrum also happens to be used often in many different types of insect repellents. Keep in mind that marigolds need plenty of sunlight and fertile soil in order properly thrive. You can also grow marigolds in pots or planters and place them around the home for additional protection from mosquitoes.

3. Catnip

Catnip

Catnip is a perennial herb that is related to mint, and is also quite easy to grow. According to recent studies, it was found that catnip is actually as much as ten times more effective than the chemical known as DEET, which is used in a large amount of commercial insect repellent. However, catnip only has an effect on mosquitoes within a close proximity. Many people will apply crushed leaves for better protection from mosquitoes. You should also keep in mind that catnip plants do affect cats, which means that if you own a cat you may want to consider using a different plant.

4. Ageratum

Ageratum

Like many of the previously mentioned plants, ageratum contains an element that mosquitoes find incredibly offensive and that is commonly used in insect repellents. This component is known as coumarin. Like marigolds, ageratums boast some especially gorgeous flowers. Its blooms are typically blue, but they come in several varieties that include white, pink and violet as well. Ageratum plants don’t need very much sunlight and can thrive with in full or partial sunlight. You won’t need very rich soil either, which is why they are often used in rock gardens, especially because they are a low-lying plant.

5. Horsemint

Horsemint

Horsemint has the same effect that citronella plants do; they produce a strong scent that tends to mask nearby scents that attract mosquitoes. Horsemint has several positives going for it, including that it grows fast, can grow in the shade, can resist droughts and does well in dryer conditions.

Use some of these plants near your deck, backyard, pool area, or other outdoor areas of your home in order to naturally repel mosquitoes.

Nicole loves her beautiful little home that she shares with her husband. She enjoys learning about anything to do with home improvement, from ways to keep the bugs away to the best decking suppliers in Perth, Australia.

Little Brown Bats In Danger Of Extinction

Little Brown Bat

The little brown bat is one of the most common species of bats in North America, and has been the preferred model organism for bat studies, and research. As well, these insectivores have been widely acclaimed by pest management experts, for their natural insect pest control services.

Little Brown Bats In Danger Of Extinction

Unfortunately, recent studies released have offered evidence that the little brown bat population in the North Eastern United States, is experiencing a steady and hasty decline from exposure to White nose syndrome- a disease caused by exposure to a particular fungus; first discovered in 2006. This infliction could result in the complete extinction of these natural exterminators, and the subsequent increase of insect pest control problems in the North Eastern United States; and throughout the rest of North America.

Concerned American biologists are asking the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, to place the little brown bat, once one of the most common mammals in North America and (to date) the most-affected species, on the endangered species list; until a formal review can be completed.

White-Nose Syndrome

The White-Nose Syndrome fungus was first discovered back in 2006, in the caves of New York. It has since spread to some 28 U.S. States. It’s believed that the fungus was brought over from Europe, where WNS didn’t seem to have the same affect as it has on the 26 different species of hibernating North American bats.

White-Nose Syndrome affects Little Brown bats by altering their hibernation. Essentially, a white fungus will grow on a Little Brown bat’s nose and awaken the bat when it should be hibernating. The bat will use all of it’s energy reserves needed for hibernation, and eventually die off before spring rolls around and the bat can once again hunt bugs. The fungus also affects the little brown bat’s blood pressure, body temperature, and ability to fly and catch insects. It’s estimated that WNS has killed between 7-10 million hibernating bats.

The Little Brown Bat

As this bat’s name would suggest, it’s fur is uniformly dark brown and glossy on the back. The upper body is slightly paler, with greyish fur underneath. This species of bat has thirty-eight, relatively sharp teeth. As is typical for most insectivores, the little brown bat’s canine teeth are very prominent, enabling it to grasp hard-bodied insects; while still in flight. Considered very effective exterminators, a healthy population of Little Brown bats, can consume thousands of pounds of insect pests; each year.

 

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