The tell-tale signs are all around us. Your favorite radio station just switched to Christmas music, Schnucks is pushing whole turkeys. Furniture stores are running semi-annual going-out-of-business sales.
This can only mean one thing – the FiXmas season is upon us. Sure, it’s the season of gratitude, joy, goodwill to men, blah, blah, blah, yadda, yadda, yadda. But as you count your blessings, is it a crime to count among them a house that’s in good shape for you and your guests to enjoy?
So, it’s time for making a list and checking it twice, no time to remodel, so let’s keep it concise. Here’s our TOP TEN list for the simplest, most guest-noticeable repairs this FiXmas season.
The holiday season may be mostly about giving to others, but a house that’s in good shape is BOTH a gift to yourself AND a gift to your guests. Now, THAT’s the FiXmas spirit.
(Loosely based on “Paul Revere’s Ride” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow)
Listen ye homeowners and you shall hear,
That the holidays are drawing near.
Soon Thanksgiving, then December twenty-five;
Hardly a homeowner is now alive,
Who’s not dreading guest visits this year.
Guests will arrive by land, and some by air,
Only to find their host’s home in disrepair.
Causing said host’s reputation permanent harm,
Across every St Louis subdivision, complex or farm.
But, our handymen stand ready to take that daytime ride,
Throughout the greater St Louis countryside.
We’ll correct doors and windows that misbehave,
Toilets that run will be trained to “stay.”
It’s one-stop shopping for home repairs,
and guests’ll never know we just got outta there.
Guests make you anxious? We can restore calm,
To every St Louis subdivision, complex or farm.
Whether it’s an encouraging sign of American innovation, or a distressing sign of cultural decay, there’s no question something has been happening lately to the great American front lawn.
Seems like overnight we jumped from bird baths, small statues of Mary, and an occasional pink flamingo to gigantic, holiday-themed, animated characters, with no noticeable regard for what might be considered “good taste.”
Maybe Fix St Louis shouldn’t be enabling these developments, but we’re guessing you’d rather listen to Martha Stewart than this humble handyman on matters of taste. So, whatever you need from us to realize your front yard dreams, no matter how provocative, questionable, or ambitious, we’re in.
Think of Fix St Louis as the folks who can make the things in your front yard light up, move, or make noise. We can make that dragon flap its wings, get that skeleton to sit up and lie down while its coffin door opens and shuts, get a cackle out of that flying witch, and cast an eerie glow from anything anywhere.
We can make all this happen by installing new, weather-proof electrical outlets wherever you actually need them, rather than where they happen to be now. We can even install timers and dusk-to-dawn sensors so you can set-up decorations once, then leave them alone, without adding tasks to your daily to-do list.
Wouldn’t it be more convenient to have an outlet in your flower beds? Or on the side of a porch column right near the lawn? Or on your front wall? Or even on the ceiling of your front porch for Christmas lights and other hanging decorations? Sure beats buying & storing long cords, then stringing these trip-hazards throughout your yard, across your porch, then through a window or door you must now keep open to plug-in the wire inside.
Hey, don’t blame us. We didn’t create this monster, even though we’re willing to feed it. We’ll let you and Martha fight it out.
This week, I think I finally figured out why we at Fix St Louis will never be among the rich and famous. Apparently, we simply don’t think the way they do.
Now, it’s not like we have NOTHING in common with rich and famous people like NFL players, Hollywood actresses, and late night comedians. For instance, just like them, we’re big crowd pleasers and we win more than our fair share of awards, including:
But for the life of us, it’s never even OCCURED to us that our great professional achievements in fixing toilets gives us the right to do end zone dances in your backyard, share our expertise in foreign affairs, or tell you how to raise your children.
The great thing about being in the handyman business is that no one ever accuses you of abusing your privilege, because they can’t seem to find any. But in fact, we enjoy one of the greatest privileges of all, making people happy by making their homes more livable, and getting to talk only about things we know something about.
So, if you are looking for worldly wisdom, as great as our home repair achievements may be, please don’t ask our technicians – ask Oprah. On the other hand, I betcha she wouldn’t know which end of a toilet plunger is up.
Once upon a time, after Americans pressed the lever on a toilet, they immediately walked away. They didn’t stare inside the bowl to make sure everything went down. They didn’t listen in from the next room for a minute or two until the water stopped running. They didn’t buy a plunger for every toilet, then display this lovely item near their designer faucet and oil-rubbed bronze accessories.
But then, the Russians hacked our toilets. Or maybe a snake told Eve to take a bite out of an apple. But whatever it was, there’s gotta be a better explanation than Congress suddenly deciding our ‘business’ was their business, and decreeing that toilet tank capacities must be reduced by more than 75% to a puny 1.6 gallons today. Because you know, our world, whose surface has always been 70% water, is running out of water. Or something.
Now, not to brag or make anyone jealous, but we at Fix St Louis are the Zen Masters of toilet repair. We spend a lot of time with our heads in toilets, and can always get them working again.
Yes, we realize that given the amount of revenues we generate from fixing toilets, some of you might suspect Big Handyman lobbied Congress to make things this way. But no, we’re actually concerned it may be a national security risk for Americans to spend so much time with their pants down thinking about toilets, and believe these should be the FIRST regulations to be rolled back.
Don’t worry about us. If the government liberated our toilets so they worked again, we at Fix St Louis could keep ourselves plenty busy with your needs for other repairs on plumbing, electrical, drywall, carpentry, decks, fences, windows, doors, floors, and pretty much everything else.
But until then, welcome to McToilet – may we take your order?
At the time of this message, Florida is being tested by the awesome power of nature. In this unprecedented hurricane season, when fellow Americans are hurting, we at Fix St Louis add to your thoughts and prayers for minimal casualties and a rapid recovery.
Watching the news, it’s easy to get the feeling that NO place in America gets away without having its own particular brand of disaster. Hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, drought, mudslides, wildfires. Seems like the only things Americans are spared from are deadly locusts and smiting of the first born.
Other than the occasional tornado in highly localized areas, St Louis’ regularly-occurring natural disasters are all about rain, sometimes in Biblical proportions. And we all know the unmistakable signs when one is upon us. It’s when getting to the other side of 141 at I-44 requires a catamaran, and when no one’s laughing anymore that we refer to a sleepy drainage ditch as the “River Des Peres.”
Which leaves our local homeowners with two choices – either build an ark and prepare for a reboot of mankind, or make some modest improvements to keep all that water outside where it belongs, such as:
Your home may or may not have one, but a sump pump is an electrically-operated water pump mounted in a lid-covered hole in your basement floor. It collects groundwater that gets underneath the perimeter of your house, and pumps it up and out, either back into your yard or into a sewer pipe.
First thing, you should make sure your sump pump works, that it turns on when water is collecting and turns off when it’s not. Fix St Louis can check it out for you and replace it if necessary. Also, we’re big fans of sump pumps that come with battery backups. These prevent flooding in the not-so-unlikely event the storm knocks-out the power your sump pump needs in order to operate. We also like sump pumps that come with alarms that tell you if your system isn’t working or keeping up.
If your house doesn’t have a sump pump, should you get one? Hard to say. Putting in a new sump pump system is a big and messy job involving jackhammering a channel around the perimeter of your basement, filling it with perforated drain pipes and gravel, then covering it up again with concrete. If your house has never had a problem, it’s on high ground, and not particularly on the path of water run-off from surrounding properties, it may not be worth the expense. Fix St Louis can help you figure that out.
If you see water coming into your basement from cracks in your concrete foundation or from under your walls, or the floor or carpet below is wet, you should do something about it. Fix St Louis can refer you to a qualified foundation specialist, then return to repair any damage the foundation folks had to make to fix your problem.
Gutters and downspouts are only doing their job if all the water that hits your roof works its way through the gutters into downspouts, and the downspouts release that water directly into drain pipes, or onto ground sloped away from your house. If you see water overflowing the gutters or leaking from places in the gutter, downspouts that are disconnected from drain pipes beneath them, or pools of water near your house, you might want to call Fix St Louis.
If gaps are starting to form between your outside concrete porches or landings and the ground beneath them, these can create a passageway for rain and groundwater to sneak into your house. Fix St Louis can refer you to specialists called “mudjackers” who can fill-in those spaces with dirt. This will not only prevent the entry of water, but can also keep your porch from cracking or collapsing from lack of support.
Make sure that the soil around your house is touching the concrete foundation, and not the siding above it. Also, the ground should be sloping AWAY from your house, directing the water away. If not, you might want to add soil to create a slope.
As we hope for the best in Florida, it’s also a time to count our blessings that massive hurricanes are not something we need to deal with. But, while we may never have to deal with hurricane-class levels of rainfall, wouldn’t it be nice to know your house could?
Fix St Louis