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

July 4th Proclamation of Handyman Bill of Rights

Sometimes in the course of handyman events it becomes necessary for homeowners to dissolve the bands connecting them to those who previously fixed their homes, seeking a more perfect union. Because while all handymen might be CREATED equal, everyone knows by now they sure don’t TURN OUT that way.

So, be it resolved on this 4th of July 2017, Fix St Louis:

  1. Shall make no policy prohibiting homeowners from exercising their right to free estimates, and their ability to schedule firm appointments shall not be infringed.
  2. Shall provide a full-time customer service representative to whom they may petition for a redress of grievances.
  3. A well regulated workforce being necessary to perform repairs properly, our technicians shall have at least 10 years of experience.
  4. Checks and balances: Homeowners may pay their invoice balances by cash, personal check, or any major credit card.
  5. The right of homeowners to be secure in their property and personal effects shall not be violated, so our technicians will be bonded and their work insured.

So, go forth and pursue happiness this Independence Day, comforted in the knowledge that Fix St Louis will always be there to protect your homeland.


Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

5 Things You Shouldn’t Ask Dad to do on Fathers Day. Or Ever.

With today being Father’s Day, and so many dads being the family’s handyman-in-residence, maybe for this one day you’ll want to hold-off on asking him to fix stuff.

But on every OTHER day of the year, the days that are NOT Father’s Day, we suggest there are some repairs you might never ask him to fix. Those repairs that might cause dad to hurt, maim, or kill himself. Or your marriage. Or your ability to enter one of your rooms ever again without thinking about how bad it looks.

So as our Father’s Day gift to you, Fix St Louis has compiled this list of the 5 things you might never want to ask dad to do:

1. Install Crown Molding

How hard could it be to make those 45 degree cuts in the crown molding at the corners of the room, and get the 2 pieces to fit together snugly, right? But, the crown molding itself is installed on the wall at an angle, so you’re actually trying to make TWO angled cuts at the same time. If dad has never done this before, preferably 2-3 times, and you don’t want to buy twice as much crown molding to waste before he figures this out, it’s best to call Fix St Louis.

2. Add Insulation to the Attic

That slick Pink Panther they use in their ads tricks a lot of dads into thinking nothing could be easier than rolling out that insulation across your attic floor. But that false sense of confidence lasts only until the moment your dad actually ENTERS the attic. Then, he’ll realize that unless he lettered in the balance beam in high school it’s difficult to move around by stepping only on the edges of joists, without stepping on, cracking, or falling through the drywall between them. Incidentally, that drywall is otherwise known as the ceiling to the floor below. Not to mention doing this in a space that is usually EXTREMELY hot or cold, with a ceiling full of the sharp business ends of roofing nails pointed right at his head.

3. Join Copper Pipes

Joining 2 copper pipes together using a propane torch might seem like a manly endeavor, but the frustration of doing it over and over again until there isn’t the smallest trickle of water coming out of the joint can turn any dad into a whimpering baby. In the process he’ll learn a couple of things, like the pipes have to be totally dry to make it work, which isn’t easy, and that while water may seem dumb it’s actually a Fulbright Scholar when it comes to finding any area that it can pass through no matter how small. Yes, dad can learn how to do it, but with as infrequently as he will do it, and that it will be so long until he does it again that he won’t remember, wouldn’t his time be better spent with your family?

4. Repair Three-Way Switches

You know how sometimes there’s 2 switches that operate the same light on opposite sides of a room or hallway? And do you notice that ‘2’ is not the same number used in the name of a 3-way switch? If dad’s troubleshooting or installing these switches, he’ll soon understand why trying to figure them out is not worth his time.

5. Anything Involving Getting on the Roof

To be clear, it’s not getting ON the roof that is the problem. It’s falling OFF. Either the roof or the ladder. And for those of you living in those fancy-shmancy houses with vaulted ceilings and roofs some mountain climbers would be afraid to scale – wouldn’t your family rather have dad around than just the proceeds of his insurance policy? (If not, make sure your family doesn’t come within 50′ of the bottom of his ladder).

So, let me wish a happy Father’s Day to all dads out there. And when it comes to home repairs, keep in mind that Fix St Louis is here to help him. Not put him out of a job.

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

Just Singing, and Sump-Pumping, in the Rain

While I’m not much into conspiracy theories, there’s one I’m not ready to let go of yet. I think aliens regularly visit us, grab our land, invade our bodies, destroy our homes, and yet hide in plain sight.

Think about it. Water now accounts for 71% of the earth’s surface, 60% of our body weight, is smart enough to locate every hole as small as a pinprick on our houses, and evil enough to enter and create damage. And every once in awhile, this alien mocks us by turning Fenton, of all places, into an isolated, remote, supra-tropical retreat.

Last week, we St Louisans successfully fought-off this liquid foe, and it eventually moved on. But, what weapons should homeowners be adding to their arsenals right now to prepare for the next aerial assault?

No, silly, not water guns. They just make the problem worse. Instead, we at Fix St Louis suggest the following:

Flashing

No, I’m NOT talking about what you fear every man prancing around in a raincoat, other than Gene Kelly, might do next. Flashing is about metal strips installed outside, mostly above windows, doors, deck ledger boards, and beneath roof vents, to direct water away from the cracks where two separate building materials meet. If your builders and remodelers installed things properly, this should never be a problem. But sadly, there are no perfect builders or remodelers on this side of heaven.

Caulking

Caulking kinda works like flashing, but it’s for all the other gaps in your home where water might intrude. You’ll mostly find it around windows and doors, but it’s used in other places, too. Unlike flashing, caulking is not permanent, and it degrades and gets ugly over time. So, Fix St Louis gets regular calls to check and replace caulking – and not just on house exteriors, but also around tubs, showers, and sinks, too.

Sump Pumps

If you have a perfectly circular hole cut in the floor in a corner of your basement, that was not put there by some desperately hungry, but misguided ice fisherman. That hole collects water from an invisible channel that runs beneath the perimeter of your basement floor, and if there’s a ‘sump pump’ in there, every time the water level gets too high it pumps the water out through those pipes around it. If you have a broken sump pump or a hole without any sump pump at all, we can install one (if you don’t have a hole, we can refer you to either an ice fisherman or a foundation company). We can even install sump pumps that have an alarm and a battery backup, in case your house loses power.

While they say you can fight fire with fire, when it comes to water, not so much. Let Fix St Louis help you fight off this existential threat to humanity.

 

 

Dr Steve

Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

So, was your builder expecting April the Giraffe to change your light bulbs?

Hey, your Great Room with the 2-story vaulted ceiling looks really great and all that, and I’m sure your home builder boasted about how spacious it made your house seem. But now that your builder is long gone and has cashed his check, you begin to wonder. How on God’s green Earth am I going to change a light bulb that’s 17′ up in the air?!

No problem, you figure. The last time you were in Home Depot, didn’t you see a light bulb changing kit that included an extension rod with all sorts of nifty light bulb grabbing attachments you could put at its end, like a suction cup, a basket, and a wad of used bubble gum? But if you had actually BOUGHT it and tried to use it, you’d know that you might just as well be a circus performer spinning plates at the end of that rod. And also that you forgot to buy two more things needed to change that bulb — a 10′ step ladder and a crash helmet to protect you from aerial bombardment by kamikaze bulbs that refuse to get suctioned or leap gracefully into the basket.

Off the top of my head, I can think of a couple of more things builders do to make a house more showy, but leave homeowners helpless to do normal maintenance. How about climbing onto one of those modern, ultra-steep roofs that even a mountain goat isn’t crazy enough to get up on? Or that cedar deck whose boards will soon start fraying at the edges unless you stain it every 2 years? Or asking the crew from Merry Maids if they would kindly clean that window above your front door two-stories up?

Now I know that some of you are too young to remember this. But, I think it was maybe, oh, about two weeks ago that there was something called the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus. And they had parades of elephants that were quite a spectacle. Now, think of your builder as the ringmaster, and think of those huge beautiful creatures as the houses he was showing-off, that captured your attention. Now, think of those men with the push brooms at the end of the parade. That would be us, Fix St Louis.

So, call Fix St Louis whenever you need to perform one of those impossible maintenance feats the builder didn’t warn you about. We can even make some of them go away, e.g. by staining that cedar deck with a deck paint that you would only have to re-paint as often as you would have to re-paint a house, not every couple of years.

Let’s finally talk about those maintenance elephants in the room. And don’t worry, we’re actually quite good at cleaning-up after ourselves.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100