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Are you prepared to deliver an annual “State of your Street Address” address?

Imagine it’s your moment. Ready? Go! “Ladies and gentlemen. Your humble correspondent has the high privilege and distinct honor of introducing the homeowner at 24 WestEast SunnyShady PineMapleOak TreeRockLeaf LaneCourt!” You walk up to the podium. Then you realize there’s no teleprompter. You freeze. That’s strange, because you KNOW there are several things not quite right about your house. But, since you can never figure out who to call to fix these problems, they remain not quite right. So you try not to think about them, you live with them, and you kinda DO forget about them. Almost. But they live rent-free in your head as a mild irritation. Like that pantry door that’s fallen off-track. That process started when you couldn’t figure out who in the world would fix something like that. A carpenter? Slipping into Family Feud Bonus Round mode, you wonder how many carpenters you can name. Geppetto? [BUZZ] Jesus? [BUZZ] Karen? [BUZZ, Steve Harvey snickers]. Let’s start by enumerating your home’s issues, by area of concern, using the model perfected by our own federal government in the annual State of the Union address. Enemies of the State — Domestic and Foreign Sadly, there are bad actors both inside and outside your home who continuously work to damage it. On the outside there are squirrels, raccoons, termites, woodpeckers, and other non-Spanish speaking pests who misinterpret the phrase “Mi Casa Su Casa” (my house is your house) to mean just the opposite. Then of course there is “friendly fire” from dogs and teens. Call Fix St Louis to restore the recurring damage all of them do. Children are the Future You know, the politicians are always talking about doing things for the children, that children are our future. Blah, blah, blah. While their motives are usually questionable when they talk like that, when it comes to home repairs it is complete rubbish. If you have done your job as a parent well, and are not unlucky, the future of little Sally’s bedroom is a guest bedroom. And between now and then, the butterflies and puppies in the wallpaper won’t age well when she comes home one day with tattoos, purple hair, and a nose ring. By all means, keep up with the broken doors, damage to the walls, and malfunctioning outlets, switches, ceiling fans, and light fixtures. But you might want to save some of that decorating money for the bling-bling rooms in your house, like the kitchen and bathrooms. In any event, Fix St Louis will be there for you all the way, even when your kids return with THEIR kids as guests. Build the Wall, Tear Down that Wall, Patch the Wall If you put your mind to it, I bet you can think of several places in your home that need drywall repair. Look behind every door knob that has no door stop. Notice angled settlement cracks coming from the top corners of your doors. The rooms where your kids play — the walls probably have dents, chips, and scratch marks. Ceilings often have cracks in straight lines along the seams where two sheets of drywall come together. Call the magicians at Fix St Louis. We make drywall damage disappear. The Small Honey-Do Administration If you have a list of honey-do’s that never seems to get any shorter, it’s probably also a list of things honey can’t, won’t, or would rather not do. Don’t let those items become the closest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see this side of heaven. Turn the work over to the professional honey do-ers at Fix St Louis. No nagging required. Who knows? If you demonstrate to your family that you’re in charge of the state of your home, and that everything will be fixed in time, they may even stand-up and applaud you at the dinner table. Then stand-up, applaud, and sit down over and over again. OK, maybe there’s a limit to what we can learn from the practices of the federal government. But the good news is that, with Fix St Louis, you NEVER have to stumble over the question of who can fix things to keep the state of your street address strong. Dr Steve Fix St

Get that CROWDED-OUT car BACK into your garage and KEEP it there EVERY night

If your kid’s room got too messy, you wouldn’t make him sleep out on the street that night, would you? For sure, that might be a tempting threat for an exasperated parent, but can we all agree that would be terrible parenting? So now consider this equally terrible analogy. Why are you throwing your innocent car out of your garage and onto the streets each time, through no fault of its own, someone in your family gets a large delivery, paints a bird house, receives a gift of an unwanted old dresser from Aunt Fannie, or is too lazy to put things away? At one time, having that car out on the street wasn’t such a big deal. Yeah, it might have signaled to your neighbors that you didn’t quite have your act together because your garage was a mess. And that blast of snow last week reminded us you never have to scrape ice off a windshield that’s in a

Contagious Home Improvements

If your booth for accepting confessions is now open, I’ve got one to make. I am a super-spreader, and I pass things on by human contact and word of mouth in my every day travels from subdivision-to-subdivision. In fact, your humble correspondent has probably been patient ZERO for a number of home ideas that are highly contagious. But in my defense, keep in mind it’s only been recently that the word “contagious” has frightened people and compelled them to do things like stay home, cover their faces, and disrupt their kids’ educations. Remember when laughter and enthusiasm were considered contagious? Was that such a bad thing? Lately, when the following 4 highly contagious home improvement ideas have come up in my everyday conversations with homeowners, I immediately observe in them the following symptoms: Surprise, followed by skepticism, then acceptance, and finally a powerful urge to get Fix St Louis to do them as soon as possible. After you have read each one of these listed below, I’d suggest that you pause and watch for symptoms before moving to the next one. Bulb-less Light Fixtures Q. How many homeowners does it take to change a light bulb? A. Where have you been? If you’ve been to your hardware store’s light fixture section recently, you may have noticed a handful of disoriented shoppers, drifting aimlessly through the aisles, clutching packages in their hands, all looking for a clerk to ask what type of bulbs the light fixture needs. Fact is, there are now a lot of light fixtures available that don’t need ANY bulbs at all because the LED elements (called “diodes”) that are built into bulbs are instead built into the wiring of the fixture. (Yeah, I don’t understand it either). Even more surprising, the manufacturers claim these lights will last for DECADES! (Based on our experience, so far so good, but time will tell). When you search for these fixtures, look for the word “integrated” on the package which, to clarify, refers to the LED elements built into the fixture, and not the 1954 landmark Supreme Court ruling on Brown v. Board of Education. Obviously, Fix St Louis can replace your old light fixtures with the new bulb-less ones. We can even send over our trained acrobats to change-out those light fixtures that are 20’ up in the air on your vaulted ceiling, so you can stop spending hours pondering how you will ever replace that burned-out bulb. Picture or Art TV’s I pin the beginning of the cultural decline in America to when the first big screen TV was mounted over a fireplace. Before then, families would gather before the fire, and play Parcheesi beneath a patriotic picture of George Washington crossing the Delaware, or a culturally-uplifting Claude Monet painting of water lilies. But since then, that TV has driven families out and apart by serving as either a giant black billboard advertising that they can have more fun someplace else, or loudly blaring a game between two colleges you’ve barely heard of, playing a sport no one in your family has ever played, while Junior sits in a corner stuffing Cheetos down his pie-hole. But these new “picture” or “art” TV’s promise to put the “family” back in “family room.” Imagine instead of that TV on its bracket jutting out of that wall, there’s a framed picture mounted flush against that wall – maybe there are even a few framed pictures around it. But instead of a black TV screen within that frame, there’s an illuminated picture of a painting there – one that might rotate through a series of paintings. One of those paintings that you scroll through could be your TV, whenever you wanted to watch. The reason this unit can be mounted flat against the wall is NOT because the electronics and power outlets have become so small that they can fit within the tiny depth of the frame – not yet, in any case. It’s because those components are shoved into a recessed cavity behind the Picture TV, just like that medicine cabinet that’s recessed into your bathroom wall. Oh, I wonder who-oh-who has the skills to create that recessed cavity and run power wires behind the wall so that no one can see them. Might it be Fix St Louis? Wi-Fi Garage Door Openers You may have noticed there are a lot of new appliances that claim to be “Smart” appliances, but are about the stupidest things you have ever heard of. It’s just been all-too-irresistible for appliance company marketing types at off-site brainstorming sessions to conjure-up all the ways they can combine smart phones and the Internet with their products. No, I don’t really need Samsung to send me an email every month telling me what percentage of my laundry loads were permanent press. Or for that matter, to alert me that a stranger has broken into my house to do his laundry, and his linens have just entered the spin cycle. But, I do make an exception for garage door openers you can access with your smart phones. Did I absent-mindedly pull away from my house on my way to work without closing the garage door? Did I check a THIRD time before driving 100 miles into my vacation that the garage door was closed? Did one of my kids lock themselves out of the house? Can I get the delivery truck driver to leave my package inside the garage, instead of outside where it’s raining? Hey, why not use your phone now, whether it is smart OR dumb, to request that Fix St Louis smart technicians make your garage door opener smarter? Walkways that Don’t Take your Elderly Guests on a Trip Has that last concrete walkway slab before the front porch sunk so low that you now have to do a high jump to get to the front door? Or, have the walkway slabs on the way to the porch become so uneven that they have become a trip hazard? The truth is that only the most painfully shy and deeply introverted people look down at their feet as they walk to your front door. The rest of us take things for granted, like a level walkway or that we need to lift our foot between 7 and 7-¾” to get to the next step. A lot of homeowners know they have these problems, but try not to think about them because they assume fixing them would be a very big deal. Like, it would require hiring that entire construction crew with their equipment that they just passed along I-64 on their way home. But the reality is, this is a job that generally costs hundreds, not thousands of dollars. And what’s the value of Aunt Fannie not tripping and breaking a hip when she comes over to drop-off a freshly baked blueberry pie? Not to make you feel guilty. Oh, what the hell, go ahead and feel guilty. There are some things a responsible homeowner just needs to suck-up and do.

Commencement Address to the Lockdown U Class of 2021

Well, in 2021 you made a lot of sacrifices, put in the effort, and now just LOOK at you! After months of spending more time in your home than you ever wanted to, you now know SO MUCH MORE about what can go wrong with your house and what to do about it. Just one year ago, most of you didn’t know your astragal from your elbow. You couldn’t identify a “fascia” if it was staring you in the face. And NONE of you with those fancy-schmancy front doors with the curlicues on top and fluted trim on the sides could recite the 3 P’s of exterior front door trim – pediments, plinths, and pilasters. Let me tell you, based on what I observed last year in your homes, your KIDS’ education might have suffered, but not YOURS! We at Fix St Louis are so proud of this Lockdown U class of 2021 that I’m inspired to give you all a commencement address. Sadly, your humble correspondent has been waiting all his life to be invited to give one, but for some inexplicable reason no one seems to want to hear “how to navigate the treacherous waters of life” from a handyman – even though I’ve spent half my life with my head in toilets, both literally and figuratively. Since we have no budget for caps and gowns, why don’t you just grab a bathrobe, and we’ll navigate the waters starting in your bathroom. Electronics and Plumbing Don’t Mix Here are the 7 stages of grief for those who own whirlpool tubs: Stage 1: I’ve always wanted a whirlpool tub, we finally have the money, so let’s get one. Stage 2: I’ve really enjoyed using the whirlpool tub every single day since we had it installed just 2 weeks ago. Stage 3: It’s been 2 years since I last used the whirlpool tub. I’m going to fill it with water and turn it on. Stage 4: It doesn’t work since I haven’t used it in 2 years. Stage 5: The repair person says he’d have to rip out the entire tub because the folks who installed it did not include an access panel. Stage 6: Anger and depression. Stage 7: Acceptance: That’s OK, I’ll just use it as a bathtub. You see, plumbing is forever, and that’s good because it can be pretty expensive to change. Motors aren’t forever. Electronics aren’t forever, and become technologically obsolete. Replacement parts aren’t forever, and will become unavailable in a surprisingly short number of years. Keep Hardwood Floors Out of Rooms with Water I know, I know. Hardwood floors can look beautiful in a kitchen. And they look terrific in bathrooms, particularly in older homes. But, sooner or later – trust me – you will have a “water event.” The fridge icemaker will leak. The drain under the kitchen sink will leak. The toilet will overflow. Something’s gonna happen and it’s gonna damage your floor. And even if the boards themselves don’t need to be replaced, making things look right again almost always requires sanding and re-staining the ENTIRE CONTIGUOUS FLOOR. This messy and often expensive process is something you would want to avoid even if it’s a small room with a floor that has clear threshold or transition strip boundaries limiting the floor to that one room. Now imagine if your floor is continuous throughout your entire downstairs, winding through hallways, dining rooms, living rooms, and family rooms. Ceramic tile and linoleum were once the only waterproof options, although they never looked like wood. But now, plastics/vinyl technology has advanced from the days it looked really cheap, to today when it can pull-off a very respectable imitation of wood. Fix St Louis likes vinyl plank, which can have a wood look better than the real thing, is totally waterproof, and requires relatively low labor costs to install because it snaps together like a jigsaw puzzle. Laminate flooring can also be good because the top part that looks like wood is actually a photographic image printed on plastic, and it also installs easily like vinyl plank. But, beware that some laminate flooring consists of that top plastic image mounted to PARTICLE BOARD, which when wet swells and absorbs water like a sponge! Solve the Problem of Toilet Capacity Change Graduates, I’m sad to say that previous generations have failed you. Congress has forced a reduction in the amount of water used by toilets by more than 80% since 1995 in a gesture of worship to mother nature, making tripping the lever an oft-times meaningless gesture. Short of forming a single-issue “Potty Party” to reverse this arbitrary tyranny upon the pooping public, we need future inventors and leaders to develop technological solutions to end this self-inflicted drought. One innovator has suggested building a pipeline that begins off the coast of California, is fed with the unlimited salt water from the Pacific Ocean, passes across the continent to flush toilets in St Louis, then passes the drain water along, dumping its contents just west of Washington DC, where the water runs-off into the Potomac River. OK, that innovator was me. But we do need MORE ideas, and more minds working on it, particularly solutions that might actually be ratified by Congress. Even if, as we hope, the lockdowns come to a complete end, never to be seen again, we at Fix St Louis plan to work with the Class of 2021 on your continuing professional development. For instance, we are in the early stages of planning a Home Short-Coming Weekend in the Fall. Meanwhile, if your kids’ formal education continues to be stymied, you might want to try homeschooling them on home repairs. We’re hiring! Happy New Year from Fix St Louis! Dr Steve Fix St

12 Days of Fixmas

This will be remembered by your humble correspondent as the year we helped countless customers do things at home they weren’t allowed to do outside. We created spaces to serve as at-home offices, classrooms, virtual family reunions, and more. But as the year comes to an end, a new challenge has emerged. For the 2nd straight year, the Cathedral Basilica on Lindell has canceled an iconic Christmas concert, as have several churches in the area. How can you possibly re-create THAT experience in your own home? And then it hit me. Sometimes Fix St Louis customers refer to their master bathroom, with their hot tubs and other amenities, as their “sanctuary.” Huh. The Cathedral has mosaic tile, and while master baths don’t have THAT, they DO have subway tile. The Cathedral has acoustics that cause sounds to reverberate. So does a master bath. The Cathedral has a choir of dozens of people with angelic voices. OK, but your master bath has a SOLOIST who’s staring back at you right now from your medicine cabinet mirror. To warm-up, here’s a song that harkens back to the days before the EPA began to regulate the amount of water in our toilet tanks, presumably saving us from a drought of biblical proportions. During the year, we occasionally witness the miracle of a toilet flushing properly using almost no water, much as the Jewish people witnessed the miracle of a lit menorah lasting for 8 days with almost no oil. To the tune of “The First Noel.” The first bow–ell, I ev-er did see Had a gen-er-ous 6 gal-lon cap-a-ci-ty The next warm-up song speaks to the hope that exists to solve even our smallest earthly concerns. To the tune of “O Holy Night.” O ho-leee wall, the door-knob pierced while swing-ing smallish job, that only one company will do. Now, sticking with the timeless theme of the search for a small drywall job savior, let’s take it up a notch. To the tune of “Deck the Halls.” Wreck the walls with wild abandon, Fa la la la la, la la la la. Who to call to patch, paint, and sand ‘em? Fa la la la la, la la la la. OK, that was great! I think we’re now ready for our big finale. As many of you know, the Church recognizes an Advent season, a few weeks to prepare for the celebration of Christmas. Well, we at Fix St Louis observe a parallel, FiXmas season, to help our customers prepare their homes for holiday guests. There’s no need to tell you the tune of our next number, but I’d like to ask you to raise your voices to the heavens, so that even your neighbors way in the back of the cul-de-sacs can hear you. On the 12th day of FiXmas, my handyman fixed for me: 12 toilets running 11 plumbers plumbing 10 drains a-leaking 9 floors a-creaking 8 fans a-spinning 7 framers shimming 6 tiles a-laying 5 WAX TOI-LET RINGS… 4 falling shelves 3 French doors 2 whirlpool tubs and a broken door on a pan-try… Wow. That FIXmas classic never fails to bring a tear to this old handyman’s eyes. So, I hope I left you with some important thoughts for the holidays. Whether you have a ding in your drywall, or want your master bathroom to rival the Cathedral Basilica, Fix St Louis would be honored to be your humble servants. Merry Christmas and many happy repairs from Fix St Louis! Dr Steve Fix St

Happy Holidays

What says “Christmas” more than a gift of home repairs and improvements? Yeah, other than that. Or that. Or…OK, OK I get your point. And, yeah, you can’t wrap it up and put it under a tree, either. Wow, tough crowd. But think about it, limiting ourselves to the material world, what gives more year-round, around-the-clock satisfaction than having a home you like to look at and feel comfortable in? A seasonal sweater? A widget stuffed in a stocking? A fruit cake? Let’s get real. That’s why your humble correspondent is less-than-humbly proud to introduce the first Fix St Louis Christmas catalog, which consists entirely of this newsletter. For a few moments, try to imagine you are paging through one of those beautiful glossy mail catalogs from Neiman Marcus, Talbots, or Williams-Sonoma. OK, maybe a bridge too far, but nevertheless here are some of the freshest, trendiest gift ideas from Fix St Louis. Color-Ectomy:The Graying of America I started noticing this trend a few years ago. First it was cars, which used to come in all sorts of colors before they became neutral. Next I saw it in kitchen cabinets, where suddenly gray was the thing. But finally, when I saw new gray exteriors of McDONALDS’s of all places — the happy-clappy restaurant with a colorful clown mascot — I knew something was up. I have no idea how or when this started. Although I do remember starting to see a book called “Fifty Shades of Grey” on coffee tables. But since I never read past the front cover, maybe some of you ladies can fill me in on what that book was about. Well, Fix St Louis can make you go gray, but only in the best sense of the word. Aside from swapping out kitchen cabinets, we’ve installed a lot of great-looking gray flooring lately — particularly water-resistant vinyl plank flooring that has a weathered wood look. And of course, we can paint accent walls or entire rooms gray, sometimes with different shades on different walls. Subway Tile Subway tiles in bathrooms are now quite the thing, the buzz on all the home improvement shows. But I have a theory about this. It’s that everyone who wants subway tiles has one thing in common — they’ve never actually taken a ride on the NY subway. When this old handyman was just a handy-boy, he grew-up there, and has some vivid memories. And trust me, you wouldn’t want your bathroom walls to remind you of the smell of the subway, which is like a bathroom shared by males who didn’t even TRY to hit the target. But for those of you who like the look of subway tiles, and can manage to un-read the last paragraph, Fix St Louis can install subway tiles anywhere you want them. In bathrooms we can install them on your shower walls, bathtub walls, or even on the walls outside. In kitchens, folks like them in the “backsplash” areas above their countertops. Man-Caves and She-Sheds While by now all of us have heard of “man caves,” I felt I needed to Google it to make sure I was dealing with the latest understanding of the term. It seems like a man cave can be created in ANY room or non-room, like a garage or tree house. But what it MUST be is a place where a man can do whatever he wants without fear of upsetting or being judged by females. You know, like I think it says in the Bible, “In the beginning, God created Man…and Critic.” Well, I suppose Fix St Louis can install LOTS of things men like that only mildly irritate females who, after all, may have to enter ONCE in a while. We can install paneling or shiplap on walls, mount TV’s, wire entertainment centers, run water lines for new fridges that create ice cubes for soda and mixed drinks, install dimmable soft lighting, install outlets for men to power-up electric chain saws, and any other stereotypes of male behavior female magazine editors might be able to conjure-up. Geez, and all this time I’ve thought all a man needed was a comfortable chair, cold beer, and a sports channel. Now in regards to “She-Sheds,” I’m still wondering whether this is something that doesn’t exist outside the imaginations of those same female magazine editors. Do women really need an outbuilding when they typically design and live in the entire house itself — which is why a man cave might be necessary in the first place? In any event, we’d be delighted to build a shed in your backyard, with heating, lighting, and air-conditioning as needed, where you can read books, pot flowers, host teas, and ponder all the ways you find the men in your house to be irritating. Fantasy Gift: An Observatory The upscale department store Neiman Marcus is famous for featuring fantasy gifts on the cover of its Christmas catalog. Over the years they’ve included a custom-fit knight’s suit of armor, a personal submarine, and a kit to build a replica of Noah’s Ark with animals included. So I thought, what has Neiman Marcus got that we haven’t got? Why can’t Fix St Louis feature a fantasy gift, too? Actually, that’s not the way it happened at all. Last week I was driving through a West County subdivision and almost got into a car accident upon noticing the house in the picture below, snapped from my pick-up. Full disclosure: No, Fix St Louis has never built an observatory, although I have no doubt that we could if we wanted to. Who wouldn’t want one as a gift? But let’s say that, for whatever reason, you can’t think of ANYONE in your family who would have any use for an observatory, and would not even have used it to view the past week’s lunar eclipse. Yet, you have so much extra money that it’s burning a hole in your pocket. Here’s an alternative idea. You might consider gifting the parts of an observatory to that special handyman on your list, whose company did such a good job on that door repair last year. We might even publish your name after the word “Benefactor” in the masthead of the next edition of Dr Steve’s Tips. One more thing. If you do ALL of your Black Friday shopping at Fix St Louis you won’t have to deal with the crowds, assuming there’s still such a thing anymore. So, shop like a free human being — rip off that mask, grab your phone, and order your long put-off home repairs and improvements today! Operators are standing by (Actually TRUE — it’s our off-hours answering service). Happy Holidays and Many Happy Repairs from Fix St Louis! Dr Steve Fix St

Scary, not Scary: Don’t try these home repairs at home

No, I’m not trying to fool myself. Your humble correspondent knows he’s just an aging handyman who’s reached the pinnacle of his career on the world stage. Yet even from my lowly perch, I feel a need to do SOMETHING to unite everybody in these troubling times when we can’t seem to agree on ANYTHING. It’s Halloween for gosh sakes, and we can’t even agree on what’s SCARY anymore. And the list is long and growing: the unvaccinated, global warming, open borders, men playing in women’s sports, even whether parents attending school board meetings are “terrorists.” If CHARITY begins at home, maybe unity on what’s scary begins at home, too. And fortunately, that happens to be one of the disappointingly few areas in which I may qualify as an expert. So let’s see if I can build a consensus on what’s scary and what’s not scary in do-it-yourself home repairs. Roofs: Scary In all fairness to roofs, roofs themselves are not the problem — the problem is gravity and the way it pulls your body toward the ground below. Not that it helps that roofs have slopes. Nor does it help that many of you like vaulted ceilings, which might require the roof to have a slope steep enough to give a mountain goat pause. Sure, if you live in a one story ranch with a relatively flat roof, you might end up bruised rather than brutalized if you fall off. But in general, you want to leave roof work to the professionals, mountain goats, and others crazy enough to go up there. Light Bulbs on Vaulted Ceilings: Scary Q. How many home builders does it take to change a light bulb on a vaulted ceiling? A. None. They’re gone, that’s YOUR problem (Forgive me for indulging in a little handyman humor there). Yeah, I don’t know why they put can lights up there either, and what they expect you to do when a bulb burns out — other than call Fix St Louis, who actually, believe it or not, have the ladders (and occasionally SCAFFOLDING) needed to change those bulbs. But here’s an even better idea — have us replace those canned lights with bulb-less LED lights so that you never have to change a bulb up there again (maybe change the FIXTURE, sooner or later, but never a bulb). That’s OK, we don’t need the repeat light-bulb-changing business — we’re busy enough. Attics: Scary (unless you’re a contortionist) Regular readers know I sometimes equate the skills required for work in an attic to those of petite girls from a breakaway Soviet republic, competing on an Olympic gymnastic team. The ONLY places you can step on are those narrow 1-½” wide edges on those widely spaced joists. Otherwise, you are stepping on a flimsy ½” thick sheet of drywall that cannot support your weight, which is the flip side of a ceiling rising 8-9’ above the floor beneath it. If you crash down to THAT floor, that’s gonna leave a mark — on you and the house. Did I mention that the attic is dark, covered with insulation that hides the attic floor, is usually not tall enough for you to stand, and likely has a low lying roof with nails protruding downward pointed toward your head? Sure, if you have an agile body and a lot of time to make sure you’re avoiding the dangers, you can do stuff like add insulation, replace damaged screens on your gable vents, add a junction box for a ceiling light or fan for the level below, add or replace an attic fan, or lay plywood over the joists so that you can walk like a hunched-over human being up there or use that space for storage. But if you do NOT have an agile body, have a busy life, and would rather not risk damaging your house as the price of learning new handyman skills, you might want to call the contortionists here at Fix St Louis. Plumbing and Electrical: Scary & Not Scary We at Fix St Louis don’t discourage folks from trying to do plumbing and electrical repairs themselves, as long as they do it safely. For instance, just as Alec Baldwin could have prevented tragedy by simply checking that his gun was not loaded, you can use an inexpensive electrical tester to make sure the wiring is not “hot,” and shut-off the water valve near the plumbing you are about to work on. And hey, if your home repairs don’t work out, you can always call Fix St Louis to make things right. Now, if I had the misfortune of having a lawyer sitting next to me right now, I’m sure he’d be poking me, trying to stop me from giving advice on whether it’s worth the risk of bodily injury or property damage to do plumbing and electrical work yourself. I say, it’s your body, your house, and in my view your decision. But, think about it. Have you ever heard of anyone you know getting injured or worse by falling off a roof? Probably yes. How about getting seriously injured from do-it-yourself plumbing and electrical work? Probably not. How about serious damage to a house from plumbing or electrical work? Probably not, either. Just sayin’. But I’ve gotta say, based on the stories you guys tell me every day in my travels around your subdivisions, it sounds like the scariest Halloween costume would be a kid dressed-up like the last handyman you hired. But of course, that costume would be silly, because it would mean that handyman actually showed-up when he was supposed to. Guess that leaves it to Fix St Louis to take the SCARE out of home repairs. Dr Steve Fix St

Special Garage Makeover Edition: From Total Neglect to Near-Total Neglect

There’s a good reason your humble correspondent has never spotted “Live, Love, Laugh” stenciled on the walls of a garage. If homes were a family, garages would be Cinderella, the poor neglected stepchild. Like Cinderella, garages do a lot of dirty, essential work. But, they rarely get cleaned. The dents and holes in their unfinished walls tend to be ignored, or might elicit a shrug at best. And many don’t even want to think about the possibility that their garage does double-duty as another creature’s bedroom with en suite bathroom. Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you homeowners out there act like a bunch of Wicked Step Mothers. And I’m also not saying it’s time for this Cinderella to finally get the attention she deserves to turn her surroundings into a castle. No, I’m being far more cynical than that. I’m saying just — jeez, people — just throw your garage a bone every once in awhile, and you will greatly benefit yourself. Think of Fix St Louis as your Garage Fairy God Mother, and we can grant you your garage-sized wish. An Additional, Easier-to-Access Storage Attic Stand in your garage and look-up. If you can see the rafters of the roof, you are looking right past an attic that just happens to be missing a floor. What a great place to put all those large bulky things you actually CAN throw away, even though you haven’t realized it yet. Like the original boxes to your electronic products, bolts of leftover carpeting, the crib of your now 50-year-old son, etc. Or things you are holding onto for your kids, waiting for that blessed day they move to a house of their own. Oh, and there will also be plenty of space for things you actually DO use, only not too often. Fix St Louis can create that attic space by building that floor. Attic Ladder Did I mention you are going to need a way to get up to this attic space, whether you already have that space or not? Fix St Louis can install a drop-down fold-out attic ladder on the underside of the attic floor that will make it MUCH easier to get to than the other attic that you now have. You know, that attic you can access through a hatch on the ceiling of that small closet. With a hole size that would be just big enough to twist yourself through, if you were a member of the Romanian female gymnastics team. And because there isn’t a plywood floor up there, it’s easy to step on a place that won’t support your weight, cracking the ceiling on the floor below. Worse yet, because everything is covered with insulation, you can’t even SEE the ONLY places that WILL support your weight — thin balance-beam-wide ceiling joists, easy for female Romanian gymnasts to navigate, but not so much for you. I’m guessing that if you ever actually DID put anything up there, you didn’t try again anytime soon, and have long forgotten what exactly it was that you put up there, anyway. Storage Along Garage Walls Let Fix St Louis help you put the walls of your garage to work. Line them with manufactured self-standing shelf storage units, or custom ones we can build with raw lumber. Let us hang a pegboard to hold your garden tools, or panels that allow you to hang-up your brooms, rakes, shovels, and anything else with a long handle that is now leaning against a wall, but every once in awhile falls over and trips you. We can also help you mount bikes on walls OR ceilings. And how about hooks to get those long loops of orange, outside extension cords out of your way? Power Station This is an idea that is bound to become hotter. Find a wall of your garage that already has an electric outlet, or have Fix St Louis install one in just the right place. Now, mount on wall space around this outlet the battery power chargers from the new generation of garden tools (e.g. weed whippers, lawnmowers, trimmers, saws, leaf blowers, etc.). The batteries can charge without ever being in your way. You just insert the batteries, plug the wall-mounted chargers into the outlet, walk away, and forget them until the next time you need these tools. OR, mount nearby to this outlet one of those big round electric cord reels, with a 20+ foot cord and a bulb at the end, that you see in car repair shops. If you mount it near the garage door the cord with bulb will reach anywhere inside and immediately outside your garage. Pretty handy for things like looking under your hood (if that’s even a thing anymore), finding things lost under the front seat, or locating stuff dropped onto the driveway when it’s dark. And if you get a cord reel that also has an OUTLET at the end, you now have a way to use a vacuum cleaner or tire inflator inside or outside, wherever your car is parked, Also a way to more conveniently fill-up inflatable mattresses, toys, and other items (but not the adult stuff, because your neighbors might talk). Garage Doorbell Do you ever find yourself stranded in the garage, pounding on the door to the house for somebody to PLEASE let you in, because you don’t carry your keys when you’re doing outside work? This problem has been solved. Let Fix St Louis install a wireless doorbell on that door. Garage Door Openers I recently installed a new garage door opener that allows me to open the garage door from my Smart phone over the Internet, i.e. from wherever I am in the world, I suppose. Initially I figured this was something I did not need, and just one more thing that could break (d’ya think I sound like a handyman?). But once you have this feature you’ll find all kinds of reasons to like it. Ever pull away from your house and not remember if you closed the garage door? Did any member of your family ever lock themselves out of the house, especially if they don’t live there anymore and don’t carry a key? Ever have a friend or neighbor want to drop something off, but for whatever reason it shouldn’t be left outside? Fix St Louis installs garage door openers. So, at least for this one day, let’s give 2 and 1/2 cheers for the lowly, but faithful garage. Let’s face it, a beautiful garage probably won’t get you one extra nickel when you sell your house. And you’re never going to hang out with your guests there — certainly not the Queen if she ever happens to drop by for a visit. But a few minor garage improvements by Fix St Louis can at least make YOUR life easier, even if your Cinderella garage never gets to know what it’s like to live like a Royal. Dr Steve Fix St

Are LEANING fences & mailboxes giving your yard that “abandoned ghost town” look?

A lot of towns west of the Mississippi went through “boom” times when gold or something else was discovered, followed by “bust” times of decay and neglect. Back in the olden days, when your humble correspondent was just a handy-boy, I learned that our big boom came when folks migrated here to trap furs. But they must’ve taken all the good stuff with them, because all we have left are a bunch of rodents, an occasional groundhog, and — are those really dead armadillos I see by the side of the road? We should all be thankful for that community-minded genius who is trying to lure back the trappers, by reintroducing the bear to Kirkwood. But it’s now been almost two centuries since our area went “bust.” So, why do so many yards display features from that period — the leaning fences, leaning sheds, leaning mailboxes, everything but the leaning tombstones? You asked, so I’ll tell you why. It’s that homeowners have no idea who to call, to make these leaning things go straight. Call a fence company? HA! They’ll just tell you that you need to spend those extra multi-thousands of dollars you just happen to have lying around to build a whole new fence. Call a mailbox post contractor? A WHAT?! Call a GENERAL contractor? Sure, m’am, we’ll get back to you in about 6 months. Fortunately, there IS a company you can lean on to un-lean your fences, sheds, and mailboxes. And by sheer luck, and the “slanted” content in this newsletter, it just happens to be Fix St Louis. 1. Leaning Fences The only parts of your fence that are anchored in the ground, and would be causing the lean, are the posts — those square vertical boards you see every 6-8 feet. Just ask Fix St Louis to replace only those posts that are leaning or wobbly, and magically your fence will once again stand at attention. So, why did those posts start leaning in the first place? Chances are, it’s because the fence’s installer didn’t know that you also need to pour CONCRETE into the hole dug for that fence post, or didn’t pour in enough. There are other reasons, too. Like the bottom of the post rotted because it absorbed water from the ground. Or the installer was lazy, and didn’t dig the post hole deep enough. Any which way, our skilled Fix St Louis technicians know the difference between a cup of Ted Drewes Dutchman and a sack of Quikrete. We’ve got concrete, and we know how to use it. 2. Leaning Mailboxes If you think of your mailbox post as just a fancier version of a fence post, you already know why it’s leaning and how we can fix it. But you might also be interested in speaking with our highly experienced mailbox design consultant (oh, guess that’s me), who can tell you what options we can provide beyond what’s at Home Depot: 1) Various colors, metallic finishes, or artwork; 2) Wood, metal, or plastic-sleeved posts; 3) Personalized name and address plates; 4) Fancy grille work, horse heads, etc.; and 5) Mailboxes so strong that you will pity that fool who tries to play drive-by hockey with it. 3. Leaning Sheds If you have a wooden shed that is leaning one way or another, Fix St Louis can use a collection of rarely-used and oddly-named tools to crank it back into position, including winches, pulleys, cables, and “Come Alongs.” And so it won’t just collapse back into position when we hit the tools’ “release” buttons, we will permanently brace the structure using lumber. And even if you’re not the type who embarrasses easily, and are not particularly bothered by the unkempt appearance of your property, there are other, very practical reasons to make these repairs. If your neighbors don’t share your appreciation of our region’s charming “bust” period, your trustees might slap a lien on your leans. Or, if the neighborhood kids decide your house is haunted, you might find them daring each other to peak into your bedroom windows. But, you know in your heart of hearts that if fences, sheds, and mailbox posts were meant to lean, they would have been built that way. Call Fix St Louis today, and we’ll set you straight. Dr Steve Fix St