Dare to go out in public keyless

Well, you can now add home repair to the list of industries in which so-called “smart” products have been introduced, insinuating that everything and everyone that came before were “dumb.” Not that anyone ever referred to humble handymen like yours truly as geniuses, but still.

The latest thing is keyless door entry locks. The newly-disparaged “stupid” lock and key, that has served mankind faithfully for millennia, is being replaced by electronic combination locks that communicate with the Internet.

Is this a great leap forward for homeowner-kind? Is it time to ask Fix St Louis to install them? You be the judge:

Kid Management

Back in my day, kids were forced to wear their house keys around their necks so they wouldn’t lose them, a practice that today would lead to parent arrests for felonious violation of self-esteem. But with these new keyless locks, you don’t have to worry about them losing their keys, just about them losing their minds and forgetting the combination. Another advantage is that you can give all your family members separate codes, and set-up text alerts, so you can know that your kids got home safely each day without making those daily phone calls.

Irrational Fear Management

Wondering whether you locked the front door before you drove away ranks second only to wonder whether you left the oven on, as the greatest cause of ruining the first 30 minutes of a workday or vacation. Now you can check and lock the door from your smart phone.

Spreading Keys All-Over-the-Place Management

Seems like it would be a good idea to leave a set of keys with the neighbors in case of emergency, but what if your neighbors are just plain creepy? And what about giving keys to just about every home contractor (other than Fix St Louis), who have not run criminal background checks and are not insured for theft? And giving keys to that housekeeper you’re never quite sure isn’t dipping into your jewelry box or liquor cabinet? And giving keys to those lovable, but absent-minded house guests? Instead of keys, you can give them their own temporary combination, then erase it when they don’t need it anymore.

Beefing-up Your Security System

Supposedly, you can now do cool things that link the act of entering the wrong lock combination too many times to actions by your other security systems. Maybe you can, I dunno, flood them with lights, take pictures of them, send video to the police department, play Barry Manilow music at ear-splitting volumes, hit them with a taser, deliver a non-lethal electrical shock, or whatever else tech geeks can think-up these days. But be careful – the tumbler-fumbler is more likely to be your kid or elderly parent than an intruder.

Maybe this is progress. But, I think it’s debatable that a child being greeted by a lock-deactivating electronic signal from a parent, instead of a steaming bowl of SpaghettiOs, represents human progress. Either way, for lock installation, it’s still a smart choice to call Fix St Louis.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Make your house look more like Buckingham Palace

With the President’s visit to Buckingham Palace last week, we were all given a glimpse of how the Queen’s living accommodations compare to those of St Louisans. Sure, her place is real nice and all that, but before you lapse into Queen-envy, you might want to count your blessings. After all, she has a son who has now reached retirement age without ever holding a real job.

The good news is that there are many things you can do to close the appearance gap between your house and Buckingham Palace. Here are just a few ways Fix St Louis can help you live more like a Royal:

Crown Molding

Sometimes it’s the little touches that turn a room from good to great, and installing crown molding around a ceiling perimeter can do just that. Mostly, Fix St Louis is asked to install crown molding in dining rooms, living rooms, and master bedrooms. And if you really want to increase the “wow” factor, consider installing a style called “dentil trim” (see picture below). I suppose it was given a name similar to a dentist because the design looks like teeth, except the gaps between the teeth are about as wide as the teeth themselves. Why the big gap? I don’t know, but based on this handyman’s personal observations, it’s possible the British may not recognize good dentistry when they see it.

Dentil Crown Molding

Beneath the Crown

If you want to take this crown molding thing up a notch, there are ways Fix St Louis can complement this look on the walls below. The most popular request is adding a chair rail, which also provides a decorating option to paint or wallpaper the areas above and below the chair rail differently.

Now, you don’t have to go full-Brit to make things look right. Like hanging red velvet wallpaper. Or mounting shiny gold carvings of lions standing on their hind legs, facing and giving high-fives to each other. But you might want to consider adding beneath the chair rail something known as “picture framing,” white trim configured into a series of rectangles (see picture below).

Picture Framing

Doors

Many of you already know about spiffing up your interior doors by having Fix St Louis replace them with raised panel doors (see picture below). At the risk of sounding more like a hairdresser than a handyman, they can make your doors go from flat to fabulous.

Raised Panel Door

And there are all kinds of fancy-schmancy things you can do to your FRONT door. Frankly, these designs seem less British than French and Greek to me. But until Brexit happens, if all these nations want to act like they’re one big happy country, I suppose we can too.

For some mysterious reason, all of these decorative elements begin with the letter “p”. “Plinths” are the blocks at the bottom, and they are generally fairly plain. “Pilasters” are the column-looking elements sitting on the plinths, and often they are fluted, i.e. they have a series of curved channels in them. “Pediments” are the decorative element immediately above the door that spans its entire width. The most common designs are a triangular design that peaks mid-door, a curly, swirly French-looking design, and designs that mimic sunbursts, mantel shelves, and crown molding. See picture below.

Decorative Door Trim with Pediment and Fluted Pilasters

Coffered Ceilings

So far, we’ve been discussing walls and doors, but there are also some pretty dramatic ways that Fix St Louis can transform your ceilings. It’s not uncommon for homes to have exposed beams across their ceilings, sometimes looking like stained or painted wood. Now imagine running several beams across your ceiling at right angles, creating a grid pattern. Maybe even lining the perimeters of each cell with crown molding. See the picture below for an example of a “coffered” ceiling.

Coffered Ceiling

Your home is already your castle. Let’s work together to make home improvements that upgrade it to a palace, with Fix St Louis pick-up trucks as your carriages, and our technicians as your servants. Wouldn’t you be honored to have the Queen select your house as her St Louis home whenever she attends the Stanley Cup finals? I, for one, can imagine it. In fact, I think I just heard her ask for a beer.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Was your front entrance super-creepy BEFORE the Halloween decorations went up?

For many homeowners, Halloween serves as a once-a-year reminder of a couple of things. First, that they actually HAVE neighbors (and strangely, every one of them seems to have kids). And second, that they HAVE a front door. The rest of the year they enter through the garage, and would never think to ANSWER the door because it might be an axe murderer.

So, it’s not surprising that by the time Halloween rolls around, their front entrances show the same level of neglect, and about as much charm, as an abandoned haunted house. Fortunately, there’s Fix St Louis, and we can exorcise many of the disrepair demons that might scare away small children.

  1. Doorbells – Let’s start with the most basic Halloween need – a doorbell for trick-or-treaters to ring. As someone who spends his days wandering subdivisions and visiting homes, based on my daily unscientific sample, I swear nearly half of homeowners have doorbells that do not work. Many even have a hole at the place you should put your finger, sometimes making me wonder if it’s not some sick plot to administer a lethal electric shock to unwelcome solicitors. Fix St Louis can fix or replace your doorbell. We can even install one of those fancy new “RING” doorbells that sends an image of the button-pusher to your cell phone, so you can make an informed decision on whether or not this person actually IS an axe murderer.
  2. Outdoor Lighting – Many people still have their house’s original tinny wall lanterns at their front doors, and inelegant lamp posts in their yards. Are yours rusty, dusty, and only come on (if they come on at all) when you flip an inside light switch, which you never do? Replacement lights are surprisingly inexpensive and often come with dusk-to-dawn sensors so they function like they should – on when it’s dark, off when it’s light – without you ever having to think about it.
  3. Wood Rot – Look down – at the bottom of the white trim around your front door, and at the base of your porch columns. Are they rotted? Fix St Louis can fix that.
  4. Front Porch Floor and Walkway – Cracks in your front porch concrete floor? Have your sidewalk slabs shifted like leaning tombstones in an old graveyard, so they no longer line-up and have created trip hazards? Has the concrete step up to your front porch sunk so much that you have to put a little spring in your step to reach the porch, creating yet another trip hazard? These are all fixable.
  5. Holiday Decoration Lighting – Do you have electrical outlets on the front of your house for plugging in holiday lighting? Or do you end up with a bunch of extension cords strung throughout your porch and yard, then poking into a slightly opened door or window? Fix St Louis can clean this all up by adding outlets on the outside of your house, your porch, and your yard.

So this Halloween, make those costumed (or real) little monsters and their parents feel welcome at your door. Or at the very least, prevent them from talking about your house as THAT house, where the people must be cranky, penniless, and lonely hermits who don’t keep their house up. Let’s face it – for better or worse, you’ve got neighbors, and you’ve got a front door. You might as well make the best of it.

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

Are you losing the Cold War?

It’s been a while since we’ve felt threatened by the former Soviet Union, yet today’s temperatures feel like we’ve been exiled to Siberia. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit – it’s actually a balmy day here compared to 27º below zero in Siberia as I write this. But STILL, this is AMERICA where all of us get to live like oligarchs in dachas, not prisoners in labor camps.

So if your house is a bit chilly right now, it’s only because you’re not fully exercising your rights endowed by your Creator to life, liberty, and the pursuit of comfort. Or something that means about the same thing, according to this particular Constitutional scholar. So, let’s rat-out the Soviet-style saboteurs in your home and bring them to justice:

Windows

If you have any gaps at the top or bottom of your windows that are letting in cold air, Fix St Louis can eliminate them. We can realign misaligned windows, replace faulty “window balances” that create jams, and add weatherstripping. If you’ve got old-timey windows that have a single pane of glass, the kind often accompanied by separate storm windows, we can bring you into the late 20th century with new windows that have 2 panes of glass and an insulating space in between.

Doors

If you have cold air coming in from the sides or top of your door, Fix St Louis can replace your weatherstripping. If the cold air is sneaking in from the bottom, we can replace that broken door sweep at the bottom of your door, and maybe adjust or replace your threshold. We can also realign misaligned doors and repair rotted door jambs and trim.

Attic

If the ceiling on your highest floor feels cold, it may be making your whole house cold. We can add insulation to your attic to keep that cold air away from that ceiling. You’ll want to check to make sure you’ve got at least 9″ of that fluffy stuff on the floor of your attic, which yields an insulating value of ‘R-30.’ (Don’t feel bad – I don’t know what the ’30’ means either).

Furnace

Fix St Louis is not in the business of selling furnaces, so this will be just another handyman’s opinion. From the ads you hear on the radio, you’d almost think the purpose of buying a furnace is to become ‘efficient’, not comfortable. But the basics are that your furnace needs to be reliable, the right size for your house, and have blowers that function properly. There are also some variations on blower features that may or may not make a difference. Personally, I’m skeptical that the highest efficiency furnaces (e.g. 95%) ever pay for themselves anymore given their higher cost, more parts that can break, and lower recent costs of petroleum.

It’s a shame that most of what our kids know about the Soviet Union they learned from Yakov Smirnoff’s show in Branson, and frightening to think about future generations now that Yakov’s theater features Acrobats of China. So, let’s just do our best to keep the torch of liberty lit and our pilot lights glowing.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Do Your Windows Need Obedience Training?

When you give a command to a dog (or spouse), you don’t necessarily expect it to obey without years of careful training. But not so when it comes to your windows. When you try to open and shut them, you have a right to be treated like an alpha dog (or alpha spouse).

There are 5 commands every window should obey without giving you any lip:

  1. Open! – Does you window slide open easily, without fighting with you every inch of the way?
  2. Stay! – When you lift open your window, does it stay in place or does it impersonate an 18th Century French guillotine?
  3. Shut! – When you close it, does it shut all the way, without any sunlight peaking in from above or below?
  4. Tilt! – If you have sliding switches at both ends of the top of the sash, do they slide easily, still have unbroken tips at their ends that poke into the window jamb so they actually DO something, and allow the window to tip toward you without the sash falling out of its track and dropping on your foot?
  5. Lock! – When it’s closed, can you easily flip or rotate that little lock on the sash, or do you have to slam the window sashes up and down until it fits into the slot?

You know, many homeowners call us thinking they need all new windows, until we tell them their existing windows can be repaired. Think of the savings!

So, if any of your windows cannot comply with the simple commands above, call the window whisperers at Fix St Louis. Who says you can’t re-teach your old windows their old tricks?

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100