Russians hacked the light bulb aisle

We now know that Russians have been getting involved in our elections to sow confusion, division, frustration, and anger. So tell me, WHAT does a handyman have to do in this town to get Bob Mueller to investigate the OTHER AREA where Russians may have been practicing this – the light bulb aisle?

If you’ve shopped for light bulbs lately, you know EXACTLY what I mean. The answer to “how many homeowners does it take to change a light bulb?” has become “TWO, the homeowner plus an illumination engineer.” Am I crazy to suggest this has the fingerprints of former KGB agent Vladimir Putin all over it? So, let me explain what has happened to light bulbs, and how to survive the newest front in the Cold War (aka the DARK War).

Summary

You are now paying 10x as much for light bulbs that allegedly last 10x as long and use 1/5 as much energy because the federal government says so. Now, it’s hard for this simple handyman to figure out exactly why if not for Soviet infiltration they would mandate this, but possibly our government just decided they’re smarter than inventor Thomas Edison, and at least one person sent out a Tweet claiming incandescent bulbs are sexist and racist.

First Generation Bulbs (CFL) – Soon to be Gone

The first bulbs released after the new law were called “CFL”, which either stands for Compact Fluorescent Light or Commie Fluorescent Light, depending on your choice of conspiracy theory. Think of them as fluorescent tubes re-shaped to fit into bulb sockets, so the quality of their light is as lousy as you would expect, which actually might be considered quite GOOD if you were unfortunate enough to live in the former Soviet Union. They look like a Dairy Queen vanilla ice cream cone, although if you were tempted to EAT them you might die of mercury poisoning. For these reasons and others, it will soon be lights out for these bulbs. Don’t let the lampshade hit you on your way out.

Current Generation Bulbs (LED)

Thankfully, American ingenuity rescued us from the above Soviet-style bulbs by introducing LED bulbs, which either stands for Light Emitting Diode or Lenin Extinguishing Device, depending on your choice of conspiracy. As it turns out, wire’s not the only thing that glows when you run electricity through it, good old American semiconductors do, too, and for whatever reason that’s just fine with our betters in Washington. At least for now.

While these bulbs started out looking strange, being hugely expensive, and had packages labeled in ways so no one could understand how bright they were compared to 60 and 100 watt bulbs, all of these problems are being addressed, as discussed below.

What You Need to Know and What You Need to Ignore

Meanwhile, as you navigate your way through the LED bulb aisle, stay focused on the 3 things that you also would have thought about in your incandescent bulb past: brightness, dim-ability, and color.

  • If you want the equivalent brightness of an old 100 watt bulb, look for packages that read 100 Watt REPLACEMENT.
  • If you want to be able to dim your bulbs, look for packages that mention this feature. Also, make sure your dimmer switches at home are compatible with LED bulbs. Fix St Louis can swap out your light switches if you need to.
  • If you prefer the yellowish light of old incandescent bulbs, the harsh white used in police interrogations, the look of old soft white bulbs, or light that simulates daylight, look for WORDS on the packages that say this. And, unless you’re a geek, try to ignore the “K” ratings that are actually temperature measurements based on the Kelvin scale, which apparently provide some indication of color.

Ongoing Propaganda

But be aware that a walk down the light bulb aisle is still like flipping through the pages of the former Soviet Union’s propaganda newspaper, Pravda. The packages are full of lies.

There are packages marked “incandescent” that are actually halogen lights made to look like the old bulbs. (BTW, you’ll also see some REAL incandescent bulbs that somehow escaped the government’s grasp by their low wattage or special design).

And while I praised the use of phrases on packages like “100 Watt Replacement” above, if you hold-up 2 different brands labeled that way, don’t be surprised if there’s as much as a 30% difference in brightness as measured in “lumens.” (Don’t waste your time learning the lumen system — it’s unlikely to catch on here among us proud metric-system-refusing Americans.)

So nice try, comrade Vladimir. When it comes to lighting our houses, guess we Americans are brighter than you think.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Are you losing the Cold War?

It’s been awhile 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

Fixtures we have changed on high

On Christmas morning, many St Louis families will be gathering in their Family or Great Rooms to open presents and celebrate the holidays. And, it’s a pretty safe bet that when they look toward the heavens, nobody is going to see a bright star in the East or anywhere else, because they’ll be indoors and it will be daytime.

But it’s also a safe bet that those in rooms with vaulted ceilings will see one or more burned-out bulbs. Part of the reason is that, as far as we know, no one has ever granted light bulbs the gift of eternal life. But the bigger reason is that many builders don’t have on their staffs so much as one Wise Man to ask the question of how in the world a homebuyer is going to change light bulbs that are 18 feet off the ground.

While we at Fix St Louis are quite humble about the contributions we make to mankind, and for good reason, we must confess that on this one very worldly issue we can function somewhat like your personal savior. For instance, we would guess you don’t own a step ladder tall enough so that you could touch a vaulted ceiling. We do. We would also guess that you are not crazy enough to climb to the top of said ladder to do something as trivial as change a light bulb. We are.

And while we’re up there, we can do other useful things. Like replace your old light fixture with a new one. Or add can lights whether or not there’s electricity up there. Or install or replace a ceiling fan. Or maybe even replace those standard light bulbs with new-tech ones that, while never the same each time you visit a hardware store, always claim to last much longer, so you won’t have to call us as often to change your bulbs.

You might want to think of Fix St Louis as your home repair angels who can slip the surly bonds of Earth to touch the face of your ceiling. No, actually even better. Angels won’t repair your toilets!

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like FiXmas

The tell-tale signs are all around us. Your favorite radio station just switched to Christmas music, Schnucks is pushing whole turkeys. Furniture stores are running semi-annual going-out-of-business sales.

This can only mean one thing – the FiXmas season is upon us. Sure, it’s the season of gratitude, joy, goodwill to men, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. But as you count your blessings, is it a crime to count among them a house that’s in good shape for you and your guests to enjoy?

So, it’s time for making a list and checking it twice, no time to remodel, so let’s keep it concise. Here’s our TOP TEN list for the simplest, most guest-noticeable repairs this FiXmas season.

  1. Get that doorbell to work to avoid a bad 1st impression.
  2. Replace discolored caulk around tubs and showers.
  3. Make that door fully “click” when closed.
  4. Get bi-fold and sliding closet doors back on their tracks.
  5. Remove ominous stains from your ceiling, and fix the leak above it while you’re at it.
  6. Keep that toilet from continuing to run.
  7. Patch those cracks in your walls.
  8. Stop the dripping from your bathroom sink and tub faucets.
  9. Replace or fix that missing or broken pop-up stopper in your bathroom sink.
  10. Make sure something happens in guest rooms when light switches are flipped.

The holiday season may be mostly about giving to others, but a house that’s in good shape is BOTH a gift to yourself AND a gift to your guests. Now, THAT’s the FiXmas spirit.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

The Guests are Coming! The Guests are Coming!

(Loosely based on “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)

Listen ye homeowners and you shall hear,
That the holidays are drawing near.
Soon Thanksgiving, then December twenty-five;
Hardly a homeowner is now alive,
Who’s not dreading guest visits this year.
Guests will arrive by land, and some by air,
Only to find their host’s home in disrepair.
Causing said host’s reputation permanent harm,
Across every St Louis subdivision, complex or farm.
But, our handymen stand ready to take that daytime ride,
Throughout the greater St Louis countryside.
We’ll correct doors and windows that misbehave,
Toilets that run will be trained to “stay.”
It’s one-stop shopping for home repairs,
and guests’ll never know we just got outta there.
Guests make you anxious? We can restore calm,
To every St Louis subdivision, complex or farm.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

We kneel all the time, but OUR ratings keep going up

This week, I think I finally figured out why we at Fix St Louis will never be among the rich and famous. Apparently, we simply don’t think the way they do.

Now, it’s not like we have NOTHING in common with rich and famous people like NFL players, Hollywood actresses, and late night comedians. For instance, just like them, we’re big crowd pleasers and we win more than our fair share of awards, including:

  • A+ Rating Better Business Bureau
  • Angies List Super Service Award – Top 5%
  • Best of Home Advisor
  • 25 Best Handyman Services in St Louis (Home Advisor)
  • Home Advisor Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Stars

But for the life of us, it’s never even OCCURED to us that our great professional achievements in fixing toilets gives us the right to do end zone dances in your backyard, share our expertise in foreign affairs, or tell you how to raise your children.

The great thing about being in the handyman business is that no one ever accuses you of abusing your privilege, because they can’t seem to find any. But in fact, we enjoy one of the greatest privileges of all, making people happy by making their homes more livable, and getting to talk only about things we know something about.

So, if you are looking for worldly wisdom, as great as our home repair achievements may be, please don’t ask our technicians – ask Oprah. On the other hand, I betcha she wouldn’t know which end of a toilet plunger is up.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100