I must confess that I have not followed the NCAA basketball tournament, and won’t be watching the Final Four this weekend. Frankly, it hurts this old handyman’s eyes to stare for hours at hardwood flooring made of unstained maple (with a tasteless high gloss finish, no less!) when these high-tuition institutions could EASILY afford an upgrade to a nice matte-stained oak.
But just because colleges no one in St Louis ever talks about never do anything to improve their properties, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t either. Could these so-called institutions of higher learning be so busy preparing liberal arts grads for careers as Starbucks baristas that they haven’t noticed what’s been happening the last 50 years in plastics?
So, please allow Fix St Louis to serve as your higher learning institution, as we proudly present to you our answer to the Final Four – The VINYL Four. Below are the four best uses of vinyl in home repairs and remodeling, with “vinyl” loosely referring to any material made out of petroleum resin.
So, there ladies and gentlemen are the Vinyl Four. Four home improvement products that last much longer than the materials they’re replacing – and much, much longer than the lousy brackets you chose this year. Next time, if you insist on trying to predict the future, think vinyl!
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I know many of you are disappointed, or perhaps even embarrassed, by America’s low medal count in the Winter Olympics. You’re perplexed how a nothing-burger country like NORWAY could end up with TWICE as many medals – a country with a population not much bigger than greater St Louis, and whose primary economic output isn’t human essentials like Bud Lite, Puppy Chow, and Weed-B-Gon, but slow-moving garage sale items like garden trolls.
But we at Fix St Louis, as keen observers of homeowner nature, know EXACTLY why our nation earned so few gold medals. It’s that Americans DON’T LIKE gold anymore. So, we have lost our motivation to “go for the gold.”
How do we at Fix St Louis know this? Because we spend a lot of time in other people’s bathrooms. And we can tell you, gold-colored fixtures are out, out, out! If you don’t believe us, just ask your nearest realtor. When listing agents spot gold fixtures in bathrooms, they act like Superman suddenly realizing there’s kryptonite in the room.
Sad to say, but if we are going to make America competitive in the Olympics again, we are going to have to bring about a new world order, with medals that reflect America’s more sophisticated tastes:
Among our design-conscious customers, this now seems to be the preferred finish for all household fixtures, including faucets, shower doors, door knobs, and even kitchen appliances, where its equivalent is called “stainless.” These fixtures are silver-colored with a dull, matte finish. It has a soft look that doesn’t call attention to itself, even if there’s a lot of it around. BONUS: It hides water spots and fingerprints, and doesn’t have to be shined to look good.
This classic, original style of bathroom fixtures is still very popular, even among the design set. It’s a shiny silver color and gives off a sparkling clean look. But it does need to be cleaned more often than brushed nickel to avoid looking dull and spotted.
This finish is now “hot.” It’s a dark color, anywhere in the range from deep chocolate brown to dark gray, with thin highlights of bright copper. Yes, it would make a cool-looking Olympic medal, but this handyman’s take is we may be looking at a fad that may not last to the next Olympiad. But, what do I know? I’m just your lowly handyman, not some celebrated designer.
I’ve just been alerted the US Men’s Curling Team has won the gold medal! Still, I’m not sure this changes anything. As an American, I look at that 40 lb granite stone sliding down the ice and think it’s a waste of what could have been a perfectly good kitchen countertop, and that a vacuum cleaner works much better than their brooms, no matter how fast they sweep them.
In any event, we’re America, so we don’t need no stinkin’ medals, anyway. Norway, you can have your 15 seconds of fame once every 4 years – we’ll have ours in all the time in between.
With all that violent weather passing through our area last week, you’d think something calling itself a ‘storm door’ would have its opportunity to shine. So, what’s with that flimsy extra door, anyway? That gender-conflicted door that can’t seem to decide whether to self-identify as a window or a screen? That awkward, spring-loaded door that might possibly be the only product in America that actually OUGHT to have a government-mandated warning label, which would read “don’t let this door hit you on your way out”?
Since they don’t write history textbooks about storm doors, let me tell you what I think happened. At one time, most homes had removable glass storm windows to provide extra insulation to the then-standard single-pane glass windows. And in warmer weather, you could swap them out for window screens. But new technology made these storm window/screens obsolete, and they were replaced by better-insulated double-paned windows with sliding half-screens.
Now, storm windows had a cousin – storm doors – which similarly provided extra insulation for the single-pane glass panels on doors. So, storm doors could have just gone away, too. But some people found it was pretty handy to have a door opening that could be covered by a screen. And, storm door manufacturers came up with some excuses (pretty lame in my opinion) for still keeping a glass storm door. Like keeping snow drifts away from your front door, or providing extra insulation for the not-always-perfect weatherstripping around doors.
Personally, I kind of like storm doors, but just when they act like screen doors. They’re great for air circulation when you turn on a whole house fan at the same time, and can reduce the number of days you run your air conditioner. They’re also great when you want to talk to someone at your front door, but don’t want your pet to bolt outside, or to greet too enthusiastically your friendly handyman or others. But, you don’t really have to make a choice between your storm door being made of glass or screen. We can install a “self-storing” storm door that quickly converts between the two.
Incidentally, Fix St Louis can also FIX your storm door. We’re often asked to replace that door closer that looks like a bicycle tire hand-pump, or reattach it to the door jamb, or restore and paint the door jamb that it cracked. We can also replace that torn screen.
In a more logical world, a “storm door” would be the name for that hatch that Auntie Em, Hunk, Hickory, and Zeke climbed into as the tornado approached, but Dorothy & Toto didn’t reach in time. Nonetheless, while storm doors won’t save your life and can be a nuisance, there’s still reasons you might want Fix St Louis to install or repair them.
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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!
Well, you really don’t have to. And, you could be even MORE comfortable than you now are.
Running an air conditioner is expensive. Not only that, but the air just doesn’t feel as fresh or smell as good as the air outdoors — assuming you don’t live next door to an oil refinery or the Chicago Cubs.
Outdoor temps at night typically dip down to eighty degrees or less in the St. Louis area. Wouldn’t it be great if you could simply bring that cool air inside your house and shut-off that air conditioner from running all night?
There’s another way to cool your house other than just air conditioning! You can do so with a “Whole House Fan,” the thing that many ERRONEOUSLY refer to as an “attic fan” (more about that later). You’ve probably seen a whole house fan, but may not have known it. Ever been in someone’s hallway, and notice on the ceiling a big square vent-looking thing with louvers? Yep, you need one of those. When that fan runs, the louvers open up, it sucks in air through all the open windows and doors, pulls this air throughout the house, then pushes the house’s existing air through the vents in your attic. This keeps your home cool and comfortable, and at a fraction of the cost of running your air conditioner. For this reason, we recommend using a whole house fan to keep your home cool at night.
Now, you’d never want to run a whole house fan at the same time as your air conditioner. All that air you’d be paying to cool would be shot out of the house and into the atmosphere by the whole house fan!
However, an ‘attic fan’ is a completely different kettle of fish. That’s a fan that some people have in their roof or gables that sucks hot air out of the attic, not out of a home’s living space. It keeps the ceiling of your upstairs cooler so that your air conditioner doesn’t have to work as hard. So, you CAN run an attic fan at the same time as your air conditioner.
Here at Fix St Louis, we’re big fans of whole house fans. They cut down on our customers’ air conditioning bills, allowing them to start using their air conditioners later in the year (or just less in general)!
As you know, the best things in life are free. That includes not just the outside cool air I’ve been talking about, but also getting an estimate from Fix St Louis. Got heating or cooling questions? Contact us today and find out how much it costs to put a whole house fan — and cool night air — in your home!