KOHLER Vortex poses a bigger threat than POLAR Vortex

Yes, last week was outrageously cold. And amazingly, it’s gone from 0 to 60 in four days, oddly similar to your humble correspondent’s first pick-up truck.

But that POLAR vortex was SO January, and now we’ve moved on. TODAY we must continue to grapple with a much greater threat to our daily existence, the disappearing KOHLER vortex. I’m referring to that swirling whirlpool of water you see in the toilet bowl after you flush, which over the years has become weaker and weaker. The result of this has been… well, you know.

Like allegedly so many of our problems, the Kohler Vortex problem is NOT a natural occurrence, but is man-made. More specifically, CONGRESS-man-made. Not satisfied that only 71% of the Earth’s surface is composed of the non-exhaustible resource, water, zealous federal regulators have driven toilet tank capacities way, way down – over the years, from as much as never-need-a-plunger levels of 8 gallons per flush to as little as forever-calling-Fix-St-Louis levels of 8/10 of a gallon per flush.

To be fair, you can’t really blame Congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi for not seeing this problem from their distant thrones, given that they don’t actually FLUSH, much less PLUNGE, their own toilets. Those functions are handled by unpaid interns.

Fortunately, we are Americans, and Americans will never sit still for tyranny, by toilet or otherwise. Manufacturers and consumers are now standing-up and defending the people’s “business.”

Toilets March On

Yes, it’s true that toilets don’t flush as well as they once did, and an unsightly toilet plunger has become almost mandatory next to every toilet (Martha Stewart, are you listening?). But there’s no question that today’s toilets work a whole lot better than when these federal regulations were first introduced, and they should continue to improve as, hopefully, more college students realize that opportunities in toilet engineering now exceed those in the liberal arts. In the meantime, you should not be scrimping by buying the cheapest toilet. As a rule, you should be selecting from among the best ones you can find that do not have fancy, designey-type styling or bells & whistles you believe to be silly or unnecessary.

Dual Flush Toilets

And speaking of bells & whistles, are you aware that some of the toilets sold have TWO buttons for flushing, one with diminished water flow for #1 and the other at the government-mandated maximum flow for #2? Yeah, at first I thought it was a joke, too, but I’ve actually seen them in person! I don’t get the sense that these have really caught on – after all, it doesn’t make your toilet flush any better. I say, don’t buy one, you’re only encouraging the federal bureaucracy. Who knows? When the regulators dig deeper, just imagine how many classifications of human waste they’ll find? These dual flush toilets might go from 2 buttons to a full keyboard!

Dorothy and her Litte Toilet, Toto

Q. How can you tell if a homeowner owns a Toto toilet? A. Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. These toilets are made by a Japanese company, and they have a reputation for clogging less often. They have been said to have less convoluted piping below, and larger flush valves in the tank. However, Toto competes against at least two VERY strong and innovative companies, Kohler and American Standard. Sooner or later, if not now, I suspect whatever performance difference there is or was will disappear. We are already seeing signs that Toto is becoming just another high quality brand, not that there’s anything wrong with that. You once had to pay up to $1,000, and in many cases MANY thousands, for a Toto toilet, but Home Depot now sells some units with the Toto brand at standard toilet prices. So shop carefully, and beware of the hype.

The Future of Toilets

Looking into my “crystal bowl,” I’m going to predict that someday there will be an electrical outlet behind every toilet. That home inspectors will even write you up if you DON’T have one. These outlets will almost certainly be used for pumps to improve flushing performance in light of the onerous federal water capacity limits, but they will also be used for functions unimaginable, some of which you can see today at the Kohler showroom on Clayton Road west of downtown Ladue. Motion-sensing toilet seats that open when you approach, man-resistant seats that lower automatically when done, foot warmers, music, remote control by Blue Tooth, colored lighting, seat warmers, massagers, checking by smart phone to see if it is “occupied,” bidet-type features, and more. You have no idea.

As we approach the promise of adding electrical power to toilets, surely federal regulators must now be plotting to curb the energy use from those additional electric outlets. Must be frustrating to think they may never get us back to that waterless, powerless outhouse with the cut-out crescent moon.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Beyonce’s Right: “If you like it, you better put a (wax) ring on it”

While sitting in a Lion’s Choice the other day, daydreaming about leaky faucets, the background music suddenly caught my attention. I couldn’t quite make out the lyrics, but they went something like “if you like it, you better put a wax ring on it”. For a moment, I thought the singer — someone you probably never heard of named “Beyonce” — was speaking only to me, and her words brought back a flush of memories of all the times Fix St Louis had spared our customers further ceiling and furniture damage by changing the wax ring on an upstairs toilet.

So I went online looking for the video, where I watched her dance with 2 OTHER young ladies singing about their eligibility, and ALL of them had tremendous talent. And by “talent” I mean that if this dancing thing doesn’t work out for them, we sure could use their ability to contort their bodies to climb under kitchen sink cabinets to fix drains, slither through crawl spaces, and scamper through attics while stepping only on joists to avoid plunging through the ceiling immediately below. Apparently, the baby in the video below also finds their dexterity remarkable and worth emulating.

Now, not being familiar with Beyonce’s full body of work, I don’t know if her songs cover the full range of causes of ceiling water leaks. So just in case, here are the most likely causes for these leaks that we see at Fix St Louis.

  1. Toilet Wax Rings: As it turns out, the most common cause of leaks from ceilings is, unfortunately, also the most disgusting. So rather than spend any time thinking about what is causing that stain, just call us, and we will take care of that pesky connection between your toilet and the drain pipe beneath it.
  2. Shower & Bath Drains: It’s not uncommon for drain pipe connections beneath showers and tubs to wear out or become misaligned. Sometimes we can fix this from above, but often we need to cut out the ceiling below to pinpoint the problem and replace the plumbing parts. Incidentally, this is the single best reason to hold onto old ceiling paint you’ve used, because after we’ve patched that hole that we needed to cut for access, or primed the stained area, matching new paint to the surrounding ceiling is often nearly impossible, and requires painting the entire contiguous ceiling.
  3. Caulking & Grout: You might think that water is stupid, but actually it’s very smart. It has an uncanny ability to find even the smallest hole to fit through, and the most meandering pathway, in its quest to join you and your family in the room below. So look for holes, cracks, and gaps in that white goop along the ledges & seams of your tub or shower — inside & out. And, don’t forget the base of your toilet. Fix St Louis can plug these up.

These are generally not the types of repairs homeowners can take on themselves. And if you ever had someone in your home try to do caulking, there’s a good chance there’s now a thick, ugly glob of white goop where a narrow white line used to be. So, next time you see a water stain on your ceiling, take Beyonce’s advice — “Say our name, say our name.” When it comes to repairing leaks and restoring drywall, Fix St Louis has all the moves you need.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

You want privacy?
See us, not Mark Zuckerberg

Is it my imagination, or did millions of Americans just update their “Facebook Status” to “Demand Privacy,” after years of telling anyone who would listen how much more exciting their lives were than yours? No wonder Mark Zuckerberg had that deer-in-the-headlights look in front of Congress.

Fortunately, we at Fix St Louis are not Mark Zuckerberg, because OUR “community” of home-owning folks acts a whole lot more rationally. It’s true many of you live in homes with unfortunate “HELLO WORLD!!” features, if you know what I mean. Flaws that allow total strangers to publicly view what really should be private moments of indecent exposure, intimacy, or any other activity that should stay in Vegas. But once they realize something can be done about it, they run to Fix St Louis who will fix it, rather than Congress, who will just blather on and use it to raise campaign money.

Here are the 3 areas for increased privacy our customers request most:

  1. Front Doors– Some believe homebuilders must be the creepiest people on Earth, at least those who design front doors like they’re the windows at Macy’s Department Store. What’s with all this clear glass that allows strangers knocking on your door to get a better view than Peeping Toms would at your windows, without even looking like they’re doing anything wrong? Fix St Louiscan replace your doors with those with solid panels and obscured (non-see-through) frosted or textured glass. We can also help you with those new RING doorbells that allow you to view the person at your door from your smartphone, and maybe even pretend you’re not even there.
  2. Bathrooms– It’s common for bathrooms to have windows with non-see-through glass, but it’s not universal. For instance, we’ve seen plenty of homes with huge picture windows made of clear glass DIRECTLY ABOVE BATHTUBS with neighbor’s windows WITHIN SIGHT! We can help by installing blinds, curtains, or replacing the clear glass.
  3. Privacy Fences– If you don’t want your neighbors to watch your backyard life, you can install a so-called “privacy fence” – a fence made of wood or vinyl that has no gaps between its pickets and rises at least 6′ off the ground. The dirty little secret is that most people want these fences not for their OWN privacy, but so they don’t have to look at what their NEIGHBOR’S yard looks like!

Hey, you’re all grown-up now, and you made it! You’re living in a HOUSE. Not your parent’s basement, or some dorm, commune, hostel, or refugee camp. You’ve EARNED your privacy. Let Fix St Louis help you keep it.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Super Bowl Highlights: The continuing battle of Toilets vs Men

Sure, you hear a lot about the war on women. But for those of us who spend a lot of our time with our heads in toilets, you’d swear there was a war on men. Let me bring you up-to-date on some developments in toilets that the mainstream media refuses to cover.

Sitzpinklers

It’s been said the purpose of NATO in post-WWII Europe was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. So, I think that must be behind the politically-correct movement to turn German men into “Sitzpinklers”, those who assume the seated rather than the spraying position in the bathroom. Unfortunately for women everywhere, it appears this cause has been lost, as “Sitzpinkler” in Germany has come to mean a man who is hen-pecked or is a wuss.

2-Button Toilet

More recently there was an attempt to force men to hold the future of the planet in their hands by introducing the two-button toilet. To preserve our precious water resource, which only covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, men were being asked to push the smaller of 2 flush buttons. This button releases the smaller amount of water needed to handle the unique, all-liquid toilet contents possible only by men. This experiment has also failed, as men who cannot be trained to lower the seat also cannot be trained to press the smaller of 2 buttons, no matter how good the cause.

The Bidet

Another idea bound to fail in America was the attempted incorporation of the European bidet into toilets. One of the latest attempts by Kohler introduces a system that seems more like an inverted car wash. It has a water-spraying wand that pops-out during the rinse cycle, followed by an air dryer that pops-out as a finale. But since American men are generally repulsed by thinking about lady parts this way, and queasy about getting this type of ambush from below themselves, this battle has now shifted to the shower with the emergence of hand-held showerheads.

The Bellagio

If I didn’t know better, I’d think a new innovative toilet by Kohler is designed to simulate the experience of straddling the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. In addition to the under-chassis car wash bidet mentioned above, it features – and I am not making this up – ambient colored lighting with 8 colors and 3 programming options, a heated seat, a foot warmer, and wireless bluetooth music sync capability. Maybe what happens in Vegas ought to stay in Vegas.

Finally, a Victory for Men?

When I recently visited the Kohler showroom on Clayton Road in Ladue, I got a glimpse of the future, and surprisingly it may be a good one for men. When I walked by a toilet, I could swear the thing saluted me, and for a fleeting moment thought this old handyman was finally getting the respect he always craved and deserved. But actually, this toilet was just showing-off its motion-activated, hands-off opening capability. Then, when I walked away, it lowered the lid all by itself, shielding future generations of men from accusations of negligence. Further endearing itself to men, it even came with its own REMOTE! Clearly, America is back!

So, you women out there who think that being a man is all about flouting our privilege, think again. In any event, we men are certainly not leading from behind.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Who’s gonna ‘Make American Toilets Great Again’ so WE don’t have to?

Once upon a time, after Americans pressed the lever on a toilet, they immediately walked away. They didn’t stare inside the bowl to make sure everything went down. They didn’t listen in from the next room for a minute or two until the water stopped running. They didn’t buy a plunger for every toilet, then display this lovely item near their designer faucet and oil-rubbed bronze accessories.

But then, the Russians hacked our toilets. Or maybe a snake told Eve to take a bite out of an apple. But whatever it was, there’s gotta be a better explanation than Congress suddenly deciding our ‘business’ was their business, and decreeing that toilet tank capacities must be reduced by more than 75% to a puny 1.6 gallons today. Because you know, our world, whose surface has always been 70% water, is running out of water. Or something.

Now, not to brag or make anyone jealous, but we at Fix St Louis are the Zen Masters of toilet repair. We spend a lot of time with our heads in toilets, and can always get them working again.

Yes, we realize that given the amount of revenues we generate from fixing toilets, some of you might suspect Big Handyman lobbied Congress to make things this way. But no, we’re actually concerned it may be a national security risk for Americans to spend so much time with their pants down thinking about toilets, and believe these should be the FIRST regulations to be rolled back.

Don’t worry about us. If the government liberated our toilets so they worked again, we at Fix St Louis could keep ourselves plenty busy with your needs for other repairs on plumbing, electrical, drywall, carpentry, decks, fences, windows, doors, floors, and pretty much everything else.

But until then, welcome to McToilet – may we take your order?

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

How to Participate in the Missouri Caulk-Us

Many Missourians are frustrated this election season. Given that our March 15th Presidential caucus is still weeks away, we simply won’t have as much impact on the outcome as our Iowa neighbors to the
north.caulk

We at Fix St Louis feel your pain and have decided to do something about it. We have a plan that, in the meantime, will give you something meaningful to do, something more interesting to stare at than TV debates, and something that will have an even greater impact on your life than the next President of the United States.

Gawk at your caulk

We proudly introduce the Missouri Caulk-Us. Here’s how it works: First, stop watching those candidates on TV, get up from your chair, and walk to your bathtub. Now, look at the bathtub ledge. You see that once-white, once-solid hardened goop running along the perimeter? Pretty disgusting, huh? Worse yet, maybe some do-it-yourselfer in your household tried to cover it up with even more goop but didn’t have a good sense of how much to put on, or where it should go.

Also, while you’re there, do you see tiles where the grout is missing, letting water into the wall, possibly rotting it and loosening the tiles?

Now walk to your kitchen countertop and look at the similar white goop between the wall and either your backsplash or countertop. Is it discolored? Maybe brown, gray or black? Is it separating from the wall or countertop? Mind the gap (a little London Tube lingo there).

Yes, you SHOULD be angry to be living in a house where even hardened white goop mocks your cleaning habits. You’re not going to take it anymore. And, among all their fake promises, can you believe that not a single candidate from either party is offering a federal program to replace your caulk for free? Some don’t even think you have a right to own a CAULK gun!

St. Louis Caulk Service

Gawk at your caulk, then give Fix St. Louis a call. Let’s make America grout again.