Archive for the ‘OMG We’re in Texas’ Category
Now that the drought is over we’re back to swarm levels of mosquitoes. I don’t really want to douse the yard with pesticides, it took years to get earth worms to move in after we bought the place. I’d hate to wipe them out again.
I’d be happy just keeping the mosquitoes out of the house.
I purchased one of those electric room fresheners that you put in a bottle of liquid scent and some mosquito repellent. I picked a room freshener with plastic refills, they seal them up tight.
I drilled a hole in the bottom of the container, dumped out the scent, filled it with repellent and sealed up the hole.
There is an electric outlet right next to the back door, once the sealer dries I’ll plug it in and we’ll see how things go. If it works I’ll have to find a better way to refill the container but this hack will do for testing.
Failed attempts at mosquito control:
— I planted a dozen citronella plants around the back gardens. Removing a leaf and wiping it on your arms does keep the mosquitoes away from you. It has no effect on the population in and around the yard.
— I planted lemon grass in the back gardens, no effect, and it grew like a weed and had to be removed.
— I tried placing mosquito dunks in places with standing water. There are too many tiny places, you can’t get them all.
— I doused the hound with DEET to keep him from bringing in a cloud of mosquitoes every time he comes in. It helped a little, not enough to justify dousing the dog with neurotoxins regularly.
— I sprayed lemon grass oil around the front and back door frames. At first it seemed to be dropping the indoor mosquito population. But it turned out they were just down because it had been raining for a few days.
Back home most homes don’t have central air, and most have boilers instead of forced hot air heat. So this central heating and air conditioning is all new to me.
Today ours needed repair and I was able to follow ( stalk ) the repair guy all through and learn about the system.
If you have a built in electrostatic filter there are filters in there that need cleaning quarterly. If you have not cleaned yours Simple Green helps to remove the build up. If you put the filters back while they are wet you will fry the air filter unit.
If you have two units in a two story open home, set your first floor ac 2′ cooler than upstairs in the summer and 2′ warmer in the winter to properly balance the units.
If you use the extra good hepa filters you are probably not getting proper air flow through the system and you are beating the system up. The home ac units are not designed to push through that much material. Use the cheap filters.
A 15 seer is a good solid unit that will likely save 30%-35% over our current 10 seer units. After that energy savings per dollar spent up to 20 seer doesn’t make much sense and the higher the seer the newer and flakier the technology.
A forced air heating and cooling system will last about 15 years with proper care. ( Don’t forget to gently clean the fins on the outside units with a garden hose once a year )
A new system ( 15 seer 3-5 ton units ) will cost about 8k to replace. You need the outside compressor, the condenser in the attic, air filter and heater. If you skip the electrostatic air filter you can probably do it for about 6k.
If you need a good ac/heating guy in North west Houston give Proline a call.
Click the thumbnails for med/large photos
Orange Show Houston Art Car Parade
Some times Houston can be a pretty cool place.
(click on the photos for medium and large views )
Today we made another trip down to Brazo’s Bend State Park. Going to Brazo’s Bend is like falling into the land that time forgot. Everything there, the plants, the critters, the sounds are all like how you expected the earth looked millions of years ago. It is the kind of place where you wouldn’t be surprised if a dinosaur wandered past you.
We were extremely lucky today, the alligators were quite willing to let us pose them and hold still for several close up shots. ( kidding of course ) We were able to get in several very good alligator shots while they were happily sunbathing.
If you go to Brazo’s Bend, stop at the first parking lot after the gate and wander about the first pond. It’s only about a mile or two hike. You’ll be tripping over alligators if the sun is out and the weather is warm.
Today we went to the Huntsville State Park. There are several trails, we walked about 4 miles and covered less than a third of them. It was dry there too, every thing is so dry this year. So we didn’t see any alligators or water birds. There were lots of ravens and the usual woodland birds.
We weren’t sure about the snake till we got home and id’d him. The yellow bellied water snakes flatten their heads and coil and make like a water moccasin when they get scared. Had I known he was faking I would’ve got some better shots. The round eyes are the give away.
If you like biking through the woods ( 10 speeds ) then this is a great park. There were mountain bikers on most of the trails and they are clearly welcome there.