Ever see a cloud of little flying bugs that look like small moths or flying ants? In spring and summer in Austin you may notice these after a rain. These are flying termites, or more accurately known as swarming subterranean termites. If you see them flying around the outside of your house don't freak out. Your house isn't going to necessairly end up a pile of sawdust. These flying termites are the ones that reproduce, not the ones that eat wood. They flutter around, land on the ground and begin new termite colonies. Here's a large swarm on a warm day in Austin, Texas after a rain. Perfect conditions for swarming subterranean termites.
During inspections I'm always looking for evidence of termite infestation. Finding little fingers of mud on the foundation (mud tubes) is common in Austin, Texas. Here's what termite mud tubes look look like:
* Turn your thermostat down to 68° daytime, 60° at bedtime and when leaving home. * Clean or replace furnace filter every month. * Keep vents clean and clear of furniture. * Close vents and doors to unused rooms. * Close fireplace dampers when not in use. * Close the heat registers and shut the doors of unoccupied rooms.
One of the ways your air conditioning cools the interior of your home is by pulling condensation out of the indoor air. In some areas of the country where humidity is high, gallons of water are extracted from the indoor air and discharged to the outside of your house
Throughout the year it’s easy to forget, or simply not notice that bushes, weeds or tall grass have grown up around your AC compressor (a.k.a. AC condenser). In many cases homeowners plant shrubs around the unit to conceal it for aesthetic purposes.
Since refrigeration generally makes up about 8% of the average utility bill, ensuring optimal temperature settings can be a free and easy way to save energy.
For the past couple decades homeowners have been eagerly installing recessed lighting. Fancy lighting can be sexy, but it can also introduce many energy related problems. The big mistake most folks make is installing the wrong canned lights.
It may sound a little counter intuitive, but one of your greatest allies in preventing foundation problems is something on your roof. I'm talking about rain gutters. Rainwater is a natural element that can wreak havoc on a house
The single most important maintenance task homeowners should perform around the house is testing smoke detectors. Having operable smoke detectors saves lives. It’s that simple. Two-thirds of reported residential fire deaths occur in homes with smoke alarms that are not working or not present.
In the old days, when a hair dryer or radio fell into a sink or tub, the outcome was fatal. Thanks to one of the great technological advances in home safety, we now have the GFCI outlet. GFCI stands for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter.
If you have a gas furnace it is a good idea to check to see if the flexible gas line is protected. Often on older homes the flexible gas line that passes through the furnace cabinet is not protected, which can cause damage to the line by vibration caused by the bower fan.
Did you know you might be flushing hundreds of gallons of water, along with hard-earned cash, right down the drain? A leaky toilet flapper is a very common problem that is often completely undetected by homeowners.
Did you know that there is one thing that keeps your water heater from becoming a rocket? It's called a T & P valve or TPRV (Temperature Pressure Relief Valve. This is a small brass device that is typically located on the top of the water heater or on the side of the unit near the top.
In order to offset water heating costs consider installing the most current technology in water heater heat pump systems. These heat pump type units, which attach to your existing water heater, extract btu's (heat) out of the air in the room and transfer this heat to the water in the water heater.
If your water heater is older than 2004, consider wrapping your water heater with an insulating blanket designed for this application. Water heaters manufactured after 2004 don't need added insulation because the federal requirement for tank water heater insulation was increased that year.
If your house is under or near trees you will probably need to clean the debris off your roof periodically. Leaves, branches and debris have a tendency of piling up in valley areas, and on roofs with a low slope. This debris, which is organic material, retains moisture and over time will break down.
If you don’t qualify for Austin Water utilities Dual Flush Toilet Rebate and still want to save money and water without buying a new toilet, I recommend installing a dual flush retrofit kit.
If you have a conventional water heater, chances are you have never flushed the tank. This is an essential part of plumbing maintenance that is almost always overlooked by homeowners. Flushing your water heater removes build-up of sediment, which shortens the life span of the unit.
Your HVAC (heating ventilation and air conditioning) system is an important, expensive and complicated component of your house that requires a little TLC. Just as your car requires regular servicing, your AC and furnace need annual tune-ups to ensure optimal performance.
Chimney fires are a common cause of residential fires that can easily be prevented. If you frequently use your wood-burning fire place it is recommended that you have your chimney inspected on a regular basis.