If your STORM door couldn’t even help you LAST WEEK, what is it good for?

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.


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

Not to brag, but we’re even better than THEY are at Home Openers

Sure, the Redbirds just won their home opener against last year’s World Series Champs but, hey, we’re talking about the Chicago Cubs for crying out loud. On the other hand, we at Fix St Louis work on home openers just about every day, and we have never been defeated. Not once.

Doorbells

Once upon a time, front doors had all kinds of uses. They were a place to bend down and pick-up newspapers, Yellow Pages, and milk that came in glass bottles, and to greet overly-friendly Fuller Brush Men, encyclopedia salesmen, and Avon ladies. But these days, people seem to forget they even HAVE front doors. They always enter through the garage. And, they’re so frightened by what they watch on the 10 o’clock news that when the doorbell rings they hide behind furniture, lest the possible ax murderer outside spot them through the window.

But let’s face it, people. Unless you own a dog, you NEED a working doorbell. Or you’ll never meet your neighbors. Or, the kids next door. Or your neighbors’ kids selling cookies and unwanted magazine subscriptions for fundraisers. Or that grubby man with missing teeth who comes around each year to sell mulch.

The state of doorbells that we at Fix St Louis see every day is nothing less than shocking. I swear, about half of them don’t seem to work at all, or the plastic button is cracked open, exposing a teeny-weeny light bulb. Some houses confront you with a wide array of choices, including a non-working intercom station with a button that may or may not be a doorbell. Or a large control panel with the Nu-Tone brand name that looks like it was ripped off the set of Disney’s Carousel of Progress and includes a blender, an AM radio, and can spin 45 RPM vinyl records. BTW, nothing on that control panel works either.

Give us a call, and you will learn how easy and inexpensive it is to get your doorbell working again. Usually we can use the existing wires, but the new wireless models work great, too. We can even install integrated video cameras so you can remotely see who’s at your door, with the small downside that so can the 17 U.S. intelligence agencies who like to keep tabs on who you’ve been meeting.

Garage Door Openers

Scary, but true. The average homeowner is never more than one step away from a barbaric world in which they’d have to stop their car on the driveway in the rain, step out of the car, walk to the garage door, pull it up, walk back to their car, drive in, then reach up and pull the garage door down again. The HORROR!

We at Fix St Louis can do a number of things to help. We replace garage door openers, as well as their light bulbs. We can install a dedicated electrical outlet nearby so it conforms to building codes, and eliminate that extension cord tacked to the ceiling that you know is all wrong. And, we can install keypads outside that open the garage door, so that when you unlock the door to your house inside, no one needs a key, not even kids who might lose it. That means you can toss that fake rock in your yard that has a compartment for a key, and that is often so conspicuous that it fools no one. Not even woodpeckers scared by fake plastic owls. Who, truth be told, really don’t fall for that trick anymore, either.

And, oh yeah, we can change your door locks, too.

Just think about how far we’ve come in America with our home openers. Only 100 years ago nobody in St Louis even locked their doors. It must be true — I heard it at Disney’s Carousel of Progress.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

How We Can Save You From International Embarrassment

There’s a video that went “viral” this week, but absolutely no one is seeing the big picture. Fix St Louis is here to fix this.

Please take a moment to watch this < 1 minute video of a BBC interview of a professor, who unsuccessfully tries to "keep calm and carry on" while discussing the impeachment of the South Korean President. It's OK - go ahead, I'll wait.

Our forensic team here at Fix St Louis has now studied this video frame-by-frame and made a remarkable discovery. This professor, who lives in South Korea, actually DID push the button on his doorknob to lock the door. But, his door wasn’t really closed or locked because the door wasn’t properly aligned – the latch on the door was not lined up with the hole in the strike plate on the door frame.

Unfortunately for him, there is no such thing as “Fix South Korea.” Because if there were, he could have repaired this seemingly trivial problem before it morphed into a personal global catastrophe. So now, no matter how good an expert, researcher, or teacher he will ever be, this professor will NEVER be known for anything else.

Of course, there are a lot of other things Fix St Louis can do for doors like this, most of which are more about being irritated than embarrassed. Doors that rub against their outside frames. Doors that rub against new carpet. Doors that require a full body slam to shut. Loose or broken door knobs, detaching hinges – you’d be amazed at how many silly things can go wrong with a dumb interior door.

We can even perform a “door-ectomy”, removing doors and leaving a finished open archway. They’re great for highly indispensable people, like her:

Please learn from this cautionary tale that a bad door can shut you out of life’s otherwise open opportunities. And, what’d ya say we get this done now, before your next BBC interview.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Next on Deck: Re-seal or Replace?

While the climate in our nation’s capital has been harsh this winter, our weather has been relatively mild. Many St Louisans are already venturing out onto their decks.

Unfortunately, many don’t like what they see. Rotted boards, washed-out stain, boards with cracks, wobbly rails, and a general sense that their decks are just yucky.

So, what can be done about your deck? Get it repaired? Re-stained? Replaced?

The good news is this: If you like your deck, you can keep your deck. You don’t have to tear it down a build a new one. That’s because Fix St Louis can:

  • Replace rotted floor boards, stairs, rails, joists, fascia, ledger boards, and every other part of a deck’s anatomy.
  • Replace all your floor boards with no-maintenance composite boards that will look great now, and will look just as great 10 years from now.
  • Repair or replace failing posts and the concrete piers they sit on, or at least should be sitting on if they were built right in the first place.
  • Stop leaks from your deck into the side of your house caused by missing or damaged flashing.
  • Powerwash and stain your deck – only this time with Sherwin Williams elastomeric coating which looks terrific, fills cracks, and turns staining your deck from an ongoing chore into something you’d only do as often as painting your house.

This season, make a pledge that you won’t be a do-nothing household. You’ve got the power, and Fix St Louis has the people, to make your deck great again!

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100