7 Life Lessons from a Subdivision Warrior

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Some people dream of the free and open road. But yours truly spends his life meandering through one-lane, unstriped streets and circling cul-de-sacs, ’round and ’round. All of which have the same names, just in different combinations – pine, oak, maple, forest, river, place, terrace, etc. And occasionally, caught-up in a suburban reverie, thoughts come to mind. Not deep thoughts. Maybe not even interesting thoughts. But, here is what passes as wisdom from this subdivision warrior:

  1. The probability of a handyman being bitten by a dog is inversely proportional to the size of the dog. (Smaller dogs also make better ‘doorbell extenders,’ if you know what I mean).
  2. Most under-rated home improvement: Whole house fans (almost always mistakenly called ‘attic fans’). Those louvered fans on ceilings cut summer air conditioning bills without sacrificing comfort by sucking in cool outside air when the temperature dips every night.
  3. Most over-rated home feature: Cedar deck. Save yourself some money and get better wear by replacing rotted cedar boards with pressure-treated lumber, then staining it with a solid color so it lasts even longer. Hint: using Sherwin Williams elastomeric deck coatings means you’d only be refinishing your deck as often as you’d paint your house.
  4. The homeowners most likely to apologize for the tidiness of their homes are those with the least reason to, and vice versa. (In case you’re wondering, we don’t notice, we don’t care, we don’t judge, and even if we did we don’t remember. What happens in your house stays in your house).
  5. About 25% of handymen that homeowners let into their homes, where they come into contact with their families and possessions, have been convicted of at least one felony (source: our recruitment interviews and criminal background checks). Strange, but true: When the subject of their felony conviction is brought up, the most popular explanation is an ex-girlfriend who refused to return his TV upon break-up, creating a moral obligation to break into her apartment to retrieve it. (Well, who among us WOULDN’T do that?!)
  6. Wood and water don’t mix. From what we’ve seen, you should keep hardwood floors out of bathrooms and avoid it in kitchens. Sooner or later you’ll have hard-to-repair water damage.
  7. By far, our best source of employees is a unique, under-appreciated, 100+ year old, private, non-profit college that promotes the “dignity of labor,” thinks of the trades as professions, and functions as a ‘boot camp’ to instill good work values. It’s a mystery why more people don’t know about Ranken, and more high school grads don’t consider it as a job-certain alternative to a liberal arts education.

Not that you ever asked me for career advice for your kids.

Would love to stay to chat, but the leafy roads of suburbia are calling. But while I may spend my life on the road, you can always reach us at our office. Hope to hear from you soon!

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.

Did that Downpour and Cold Air Get Into Your House?

Is it just me, or does it feel like someone up there just doesn’t like us, and is putting St. Louis through a test? First there was that massive rain storm that landed us on the front page of the national news. And now there’s this cold air blast.

Are your windows and doors keeping up? Did they keep all that water out? Any of that cold air coming into your house from around their edges or at the bottom?

Most homeowners are flummoxed by these problems because they can’t figure out who to call to fix them. There’s water involved, but not the kind that interests a plumber. There’s cold air coming in, but not the kind of thing you’d call a heating & air conditioning company for. And you might be avoiding calling a window & door company, afraid they might try to sell you on replacing ALL your windows & doors (BTW, you’d be right).

Yup, you guessed it. This is just the kind of thing you’d want to call Fix St. Louis for. We know all kinds of tricks to seal out water and cold air so they don’t enter your house. We can replace or add weatherstripping and door sweeps. We can adjust or replace the thresholds underneath doors. We can realign doors to remove gaps that might be letting cold air in. We can repair the holes and rot that often appear at the bottom of the door jambs. We can add insulation. And, if your situation is REALLY hopeless, or you just want better windows and doors, we can handle that, too.

There’s plenty of winter left, followed by lots of Spring showers. So, there’s no better time of year to get your home all sealed up.

Invite Fix St Louis into your home, and keep rain and cold out.

T-Veee’s Mount-ing Over an Open Fire…

St. Louis TV mounting - Fix St. LouisAhh, do you remember the days of families sitting in front of the fireplace for hours, listening to the sounds of crackling wood?

Well, THOSE days are sure gone! In an age when every little boy is diagnosed with ADD, and little girls are pre-occupied Facebooking, Tweeting, and Snapchatting, a fire is waaaay too boring to keep their attention. Americans just can’t shake that powerful urge to grab a remote to click away from the “fire channel.” And while some Nobel Prize-deserving inventor came up with the idea that gas fireplaces could have their OWN remotes with on-off and fire level controls, even THAT hasn’t been enough for our restless, hyper-stimulated nation.

Fortunately, I bring you good tidings of great joy. Because this Christmas season, this problem can be solved by Fix St Louis, who can mount a remote-controlled BIG SCREEN TV right above your mantel. And when I say BIG, I swear that some of you have screens that rival the Omnimax at the St. Louis Science Center.

After buying a TV, you may think that mounting it is as simple as 1-2-3. However, hanging a big screen TV is not as easy as hanging a picture. For one thing, there might be brick above your mantle, not a surface for traditional nails and screws. For another, what are you going to do with all those wires that want to hang straight down? Let them burn along with the yule log, filling your house with a burning rubber smell that doesn’t quite say “Christmas”?

Fortunately, Dr Steve’s not-so-little helpers at Fix St Louis can do some magical things to hide those wires. Like run wires behind drywall, install electrical outlets and a/v jacks behind mounted TV’s, even zig-zag wires through the cracks between bricks and bury them in mortar so no one will even know they are there!

So this season, you can watch a fire and change the channel, too! What a country! Merry Christmas and Many Happy Repairs from Fix St Louis!

Feeling all insecure inside about your security lights outside?

It’s getting dark a bit earlier these days, ESPECIALLY now that daylight savings time is over. So now those lights on the sides of your house are even more important. But, we find that most homeowners are always feeling a little insecure about their security lights.  They’re never quite sure whether or not their outdoor lights are working, or even what makes them turn-on.

They can never seem to answer some basic questions. Is there a wall switch somewhere that needs to be turned on and, if so, is it possible someone turned it off? When was the last time I checked to see if all the bulbs were on? Are the lights supposed to go on when it gets dark? Or when someone moves in front of them? Or when it is both dark AND someone moves in front of them? Or maybe it’s on a timer? And maybe that timer wasn’t reset the last time we lost power.

In all fairness, it’s NOT that easy to check whether your outdoor lights are working. When you’re checking an inside light fixture all you have to do is flip a nearby switch and see it with your own eyes. But for outside lights, if there actually is a switch, it’s not nearby and it’s inside, so you’d have to go outside after flipping the switch. And then, during the day how do you check a light fixture that only comes on at night? And, just what wild and crazy motion do you have to perform in front of your motion-detecting light to get it to turn-on? And, what will your neighbors think when they see you doing it?

The fact is that dealing with outdoor light fixtures is not a natural do-it-yourself project. To add an outdoor light fixture, would you know how to run wires through your walls and ceilings, then through an outside wall? How would you know the power is off before you touch the wires? And, do you really want to do all this stuff while standing on a ladder?

You can make this all quite simple by letting our bright technicians at Fix St Louis be your guiding light. We can diagnose your lights, fix them, change bulbs, add new fixtures, and give you sound advice on which lights should be timed, motioned, dusk-to-dawned, or simply just switched.

Don’t keep your prowlers in the dark. Let Fix St Louis help you send them scurrying!

We Are Hiring Handymen!

Handyman St Louis services at FIX STLThe world has gotten so crazy, maybe I’m not supposed to use words like this anymore — but I’ll say it anyway. For those of you we’ve served, you probably noticed that the staff of Fix St Louis consists of LADIES and GENTLEMEN. For you younger folks out there, let me save you the effort of running to the dictionary. ‘Ladies’ and ‘gentlemen’ are well-mannered and considerate people with high standards of proper behavior.

But, they’re a lot more than that, too. While you might think of our technicians as JACKS of all trades, they are actually MASTERS of all trades.

Now you might think that with our country’s unemployment and labor non-participation rates being as high as they are, and the construction industry as weak as it has been, we’d have no trouble finding folks who meet our high standards. But, you’d be wrong. In fact, the only place where we can consistently recruit such technicians is from the ranks of Ranken Technical College, a unique institution that is one of St. Louis’ most unsung assets, and with whom we enjoy a close association.

While we are proud to be a bright spot in an otherwise dismal economy, continuing our rapid growth, we are dependent upon finding great, long-term employees to sustain this growth.

So, if you or your family knows a youthful, energetic lady or gentleman who is looking for a better opportunity, enjoys the challenge of fixing things and making them look as good as new, and understands the dignity of working as a professional in a highly-valued trade, let us know! Please have them send their resume to sboriss@gmail.com.