Free Air Conditioning with a LUNAR-Powered Unit: Something New Under the Sun

Lunar-powered unit

Some have said that “Solar Power is the energy of the future…and always will be.” OK, so nobody ever said that, until I just did in the last sentence. But may I respectfully suggest this so-called ‘miracle’ energy source hasn’t really caught on BECAUSE IT ONLY WORKS WHEN THE SUN’S OUT!!! Maybe it’s time to give the MOON a chance.

To that end, this handyman is thinking one of the true energy solutions might have been hiding in plain sight all along. Maybe it’s even hanging from your hallway ceiling right now – an appliance that promises to tap the awesome power of the MOON to give you FREE air conditioning, even on most summer nights.

The unit below is often mistakenly called an “attic fan,” even though real attic fans are found in, uh, attics, NOT on hallway ceilings. And its correct name, “Whole House Fan,” kinda misses the point. I like to think of them as ‘Lunar-Powered Night Time Air Conditioners.’

Here’s all you need to do to see how it works. On any summer night when the outside temperature dips below 72 degrees, open a couple of windows, turn it on, then turn OFF your air conditioning. Your house will immediately cool down to room temperature or less, your electric bills will dip, AND you’ll also be bringing in the FRESH smell of the outdoors (that is, if you don’t live in Sauget, Illinois).

As far as HOW it works, while I’m just your humble handyman and not a climate scientist like Al Gore, I think I get it. You know how the Moon shines because it reflects the light of the Sun? And, how the Moon does strange things that affect the tides? Well, good for you for paying attention in Middle School, but that has nothing to do with it. It’s the unique LACK of the power of the Moon to heat-up the Earth that makes cool nights possible.

So for those of you lucky enough to already have this Lunar-powered appliance on your hallway ceiling, start using it at night. And for the far greater number of you who: 1) have one; 2) never knew what the heck it was; 3) it hasn’t been used for the past 2 generations of prior owners of your house; and 4) so it doesn’t even work anymore, call Fix St Louis and we’ll fix or replace it. And for those of you who don’t even know what I’m talking about, call us for a free estimate for installing one.

As they sing in one of those old MUNY classics, “The Moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free.” And as they say on those old motel billboards, “Sleep well, sleep cheap.” Good advice, to which we can only add “Call Fix St Louis.”

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

The Final Jeopardy answer IS: This fan is wrongly known by another fan’s name

Watching Jeopardy recently for the first time in many years and trying to come up with the answers (or is that questions?), I started feeling pretty good about myself. That is, until I realized that bell going off the split second the board was revealed wasn’t synced to the answer’s appearance, but to a contestant signaling they ALREADY KNEW the answer.

So, maybe I will never be accepted as a Jeopardy contestant until hell freezes over or Alex Trebec starts introducing categories like “Handyman” and “Toilet Bowl.” But, I can at least pretend to be Alex for a single episode of “Dr Steve’s Tips.” So, here goes:

The category is “Air Circulation.” And the answer is “This fan, commonly found on the ceiling of hallways, is best known WRONGLY by another fan’s name.”

Five seconds pass. Buzzzzz. “I’m sorry,” I say in a sad voice, “the answer is Whole House Fan.” I then sing a few bars from a song that includes the lyric “whole house fan,” while contestants sigh in recognition they should have known that.

Those few of you out there who actually got this answer (question?) may not know that everybody BUT you mistakenly calls this an “attic fan,” another real and useful thing, but not the same thing at all.

An attic fan is designed to keep your ATTIC cool, and only indirectly makes your house cooler. A whole house fan DIRECTLY makes your house cooler. More specifically:

  • An Attic Fan is NOT mounted on hallway ceilings — it’s installed in a roof or side wall of an attic (a gable). It’s there to suck hot air out of an attic, so that a warm ceiling of your top floor doesn’t keep the inside of your home from cooling off.
  • A Whole House Fan IS the one mounted on hallway ceilings. It sucks cooler air from the outside through open windows and doors, displacing the hotter air inside your home, which is then blown out, into and through the attic, passing through gable or roof vents in your attic.

But, you don’t really need to know any of that. If you’re new to any of this, here’s the biggest improvement you can make:

  • If you don’t already have a whole house fan on your top floor hallway ceiling, have Fix St Louis install one.
  • Whenever your house is too warm, and the outside air is about the temperature you’d want your house to be, especially on summer nights when outside temperatures dip below 72 degrees, open 1 or more windows or doors with screens, turn the whole house fan on, and turn-OFF your air conditioner.
  • Your home will be more comfortable, you will save on electricity, and the outside air will make your home smell fresher (that is, unless you live in Sauget, Illinois).

OK, just one more Jeopardy question/answer. The answer IS: “This company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau provides one stop shopping for professional home repairs.” Maybe that one was too easy. OK, Alex, back to you. But, we’ll see you next time on Dr Steve’s Tips!

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

You don’t need Paris to end climate change in your home

When you think about it, isn’t it amazing that Americans now EXPECT the inside of their homes to always be the SAME TEMPERATURE? Every single day of the year? No matter what’s going on outside? As they might say at the Yakov Smirnoff dinner theater in Branson, “What a country!”

And, just like the final act of every show in Branson we, too, at Fix St Louis salute America’s exceptionalism and progress, so make no apologies for our nation’s unending quest to make our homes more comfortable. We pay no heed to those handwringing, cardigan-wearing naysayers who tell us we must scale-back our lifestyles – those people who THINK of themselves as ‘sophisticated’ yet, would you believe, have never even HEARD of the Baldknobbers or the Dixie Stampede?

Here are just a few of the ways Fix St Louis can help you, with little to no sacrifice, put an end to climate change on the inside of your home:

  • Weatherstrip around your front door to keep cold air out.
  • Place ceiling fans throughout your home, even on ceilings that have no wiring.
  • Add insulation to your attic.
  • Install a whole house fan on your hallway ceiling to cool your home in the pre- and post-air conditioning seasons.
  • Add an attic fan to keep your attic from getting excessively hot, which can trap hot air in your home.
  • Fill-in all the gaps around your house using caulk, mortar, lumber, and siding.

Let’s show the rest of the world how to live as we seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of comfort, which I’ve got to believe is a necessary subset of “happiness,” am I right? Let them have their Paris. We’ll always have Branson.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Can you install a ceiling fan or light to an empty ceiling?

There’s a handful of home improvements we do that totally amaze our customers — things they assumed were impossible. One is installing a ceiling fan or light fixture on a totally empty ceiling — no existing light, no electrical box, maybe not even a switch for it on their wall. Have you been wondering how to install a ceiling fan or light to an empty ceiling in your house? Then you have come to the right place.

So, how do we do it? You see, we have on staff a technician named Samantha, who is married to a hapless advertising executive named Darrin Stephens, and when she twitches her nose… Oh, not young enough to remember the TV series ‘Bewitched’? Sorry, my bad.

Well, the truth is that we install these ceiling fixtures by going fishing. But, this time I’m not kidding. We run new wires through your ceiling and walls by ‘fishing’ for them. What this means is that we find or make a hole to shove a wire behind your walls, then try to reach this wire from another place, as far away as possible, and pull the wire through.

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How Much Insulation Do I Need?

All you need to know about insulation, pink panthers & winged monkeys

A lot of homeowners go through life with a nagging suspicion they might need more of that pink, fluffy stuff known as ‘insulation’ in their attic. That their heating bills are higher than they ought to be because warm air is escaping from their living areas into the cold attic above. That when they enter Home Depot or Lowes they are supposed to know something about something called an “R” value, before they run away, shrieking and even more confused. That this all somehow relates to a silly Pink Panther animated character, an inept French police detective named Inspector Jacques Clouseau, and an old movie starring Peter Sellers, but they can’t figure out how.

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