The image of Missouri either got a big boost OR took a big hit last week, depending how you look at it. On one hand, photos from a pool party at the Lake of the Ozarks went viral, showing us to be a fun-loving bunch, and it might have offset those uncool Branson-area billboards featuring the Baldknobbers. But, unfortunately, after the pool party ended, the partiers returned home and went viral themselves.
So now we’re all being treated like a classroom where the entire class must be punished for the misbehavior of a few. In this case, the principal is your “County Executive,” who you maybe never even had heard of, and has job responsibilities you probably never understood. That is, until you learned of those unlimited powers to completely control your day-to-day life.
As punishment, we may now be held in detention even longer, delaying when we can send our kids back to school, go to restaurants that are financially viable, and go to bars to re-enact scenes from the Lake of the Ozarks, except without being waist deep in pool water.
As your humble handymen, we at Fix St Louis don’t think it’s our place to make you suffer through yet another one of those overwrought, hand-wringing expressions of sadness and lectures that are now filling your inbox, from folks you never did business with, making you wonder how they got your email address in the first place. But as a public service, just in case the pool partiers’ mistake was that they simply didn’t know of any good options to communal bathing, we would like to share with you what’s available in social distance-compliant bathtubs-for-one.
If the name “al-COVE” immediately makes you think of “Party Cove” at Lake of the Ozarks, you may not be ready for today’s lesson. These bathtubs, the most common of all tubs, are almost always 5′ long and are surrounded by 3 walls that form an alcove. Since the tub’s all hemmed-in by walls, there’s not much you can do to upgrade the tub, but you CAN make dramatic changes to those 3 walls, aka the “tub surround.” Wall tiles have gotten a lot more interesting these days. And, if you really hate the dirty and disintegrating grout between the tiles, you can replace the tiled walls with panels of “Onyx,” which is the new cultured marble. Also, if you have separate hot and cold faucet handles, we can change those to a single lever faucet. Fix St Louis can make these upgrades for you.
If its name makes you think these tubs are for people like you, who want their friends to just come on over, drop-in, and join them in the tub, we can assure you that what happens at Fix St Louis stays in Fix St Louis. Actually, these are tubs that are carefully lowered, NOT dropped, into a platform that we can build for you. Typically, the sides and top ledges of these platforms are made of tiles or that Onyx stuff we mentioned above. Of course, you’ll need a larger than normal bathroom to pull this off, usually a master bathroom.
Then, there’s this tub that needs neither to be wedged-in nor dropped in. In the past, most of these tubs had legs, like those “clawfoot” tubs featuring a large bird claw grasping a ball — pretty creepy if you think too much about it. Newer versions come in all kinds of cool shapes, and often don’t have legs. Fix St Louis can install these, too.
Sometimes referred to as Jacuzzi’s, which is actually a brand name, these are tubs that have jets that shoot-out hot water from the sides. Now I know that a lot of folks really like them, and we handymen are not exactly known for our appreciation of luxury items, but given the quality of the “massage” you’re gonna get from a whirlpool tub, your money might be better spent at Massage Envy/Deluxe/Whatever or for a boiling pot filled with round stones from your backyard.
You should know that Fix St Louis hears lots of stories about how excited people were when they first got a whirlpool after spending lots of money, used it only once or twice, then 2 years later, feeling guilty for not having used it since, found it no longer worked because of lack of use. Now, there’s nothing at all wrong with oversized tubs in general, but you might consider whether getting one that also shoots out hot water is worth having another motorized appliance in your house that will eventually fail.
These are bathtubs with doors, mostly for older folks and others who have trouble lifting-up their leg to clear the top of the tub. Maybe there’s a walk-in tub salesperson out there who wants to correct me, but I don’t get the sense that these ever took off, and I think I can guess two reasons why. First, the investment may never pay off for an elderly person with this leg problem because, pardon the expression, they’re just one step away from having to move someplace else because of mobility issues. And second, if you have to wait for all the water to drain out before leaving the tub, aren’t you going to get the chills?
OK class, so please resist the temptation to bathe with others until your all-powerful County Executive releases us from detention. And, if you simply MUST have a bath time companion, try a rubber ducky.
Don’t mind me, please go right ahead to your Super Bowl parties this weekend. Your humble correspondent is saving his energy for a bigger celebration coming as soon as later this year, when a Super Bowl may come to St Louis, courtesy of the federal government.
You see, for decades there have been federal regulations that have forced manufacturers to make toilets work using decreasing amounts of water. And by saying “work” I am being generous, attested to by the presence of a plunger next to just about every toilet Fix St Louis sees nowadays. I dunno, it’s pretty easy to imagine we’re dealing here with a bureaucracy run by know-it-all Ivy League elites, who think they know best about everything, including how to dispose of our waste — and also think theirs doesn’t stink. But, maybe they sincerely believe they’re on a noble mission rather than a power grab to control our every movement, if you’ll pardon the expression.
After all, there are some places in the country, like California, where voters might actually LIKE these blasted water-stingy toilets. Water seems to be scarce there, although it may be by choice. Many live in deserts, and voters have put in place lawmakers who have placed additional restrictions on water usage, halted construction of new reservoirs, and diverted fresh water into the ocean on behalf of fish no one has ever heard of, much less eaten.
But, there are other places, like St Louis, where people have a more water-friendly attitude, who even endure thunderstorms, tornadoes, and flooded basements to get the water they need. If I did my middle school math correctly, every INCH of rain we get in the greater St Louis area provides enough water to flush the toilet of every man, woman, and child 10x per day for 9 years.
If Californians really like these toilets, or even want to regulate them down to the point where they operate on their own SPIT, that’s fine with me. But if St Louis has the water to provide our toilets with enough to do the job without harming others, that should be fine with Californians and everyone else.
If we’re going to be stuck with these low water-capacity toilets, at least you can count on Fix St Louis to fix them. We can solve all the problems they come with by repairing, replacing, and adjusting all of a toilet’s components, whether it is leaking, suffocating from lack of water, or it’s running and won’t stop.
But, we’re excited by the prospect of a new “Super Bowl”, well-functioning toilet coming to town as early as this year. Maybe the type of toilet Americans enjoyed in the 1950’s, a 6-7 gallon tank that unleashes a gusher that takes everything down with it, except for an occasional ashtray the kids threw in – but nobody even has those things hanging around anymore. If America can send a man to the Moon, surely we can send a you-know-what to a sewer lateral.
The reason for our optimism here at Fix St Louis is that the President recently ordered the EPA to review relaxing water regulations on toilets, claiming “people are flushing toilets 10 times, 15 times as opposed to once. They end up using more water.” Geez, I don’t know what happens in public rest rooms a billionaire might visit, but the ones I go to don’t have toilets that need to be primed like water well pumps. Nevertheless, I welcome the President’s initiative in what I hope blossoms into a growing “poop-ulist” movement.
Look, I’m just a humble handyman, who can’t match the soaring rhetoric of a Martin Luther King Jr. But I, too, have a dream, when an American can attend a cocktail party at Martha Stewart’s, use the hall bathroom, close the lid, flush, then walk away confidently without ever looking back. Some may say I’m a dreamer, but apparently I’m not the only one.
But until that glorious day arrives, we at Fix St Louis will proudly continue to fix your toilets. Don’t worry about us, we’ll still have plenty of other work to do.
Yes, last week was outrageously cold. And amazingly, it’s gone from 0 to 60 in four days, oddly similar to your humble correspondent’s first pick-up truck.
But that POLAR vortex was SO January, and now we’ve moved on. TODAY we must continue to grapple with a much greater threat to our daily existence, the disappearing KOHLER vortex. I’m referring to that swirling whirlpool of water you see in the toilet bowl after you flush, which over the years has become weaker and weaker. The result of this has been… well, you know.
Like allegedly so many of our problems, the Kohler Vortex problem is NOT a natural occurrence, but is man-made. More specifically, CONGRESS-man-made. Not satisfied that only 71% of the Earth’s surface is composed of the non-exhaustible resource, water, zealous federal regulators have driven toilet tank capacities way, way down – over the years, from as much as never-need-a-plunger levels of 8 gallons per flush to as little as forever-calling-Fix-St-Louis levels of 8/10 of a gallon per flush.
To be fair, you can’t really blame Congressional leaders like Mitch McConnell or Nancy Pelosi for not seeing this problem from their distant thrones, given that they don’t actually FLUSH, much less PLUNGE, their own toilets. Those functions are handled by unpaid interns.
Fortunately, we are Americans, and Americans will never sit still for tyranny, by toilet or otherwise. Manufacturers and consumers are now standing-up and defending the people’s “business.”
Yes, it’s true that toilets don’t flush as well as they once did, and an unsightly toilet plunger has become almost mandatory next to every toilet (Martha Stewart, are you listening?). But there’s no question that today’s toilets work a whole lot better than when these federal regulations were first introduced, and they should continue to improve as, hopefully, more college students realize that opportunities in toilet engineering now exceed those in the liberal arts. In the meantime, you should not be scrimping by buying the cheapest toilet. As a rule, you should be selecting from among the best ones you can find that do not have fancy, designey-type styling or bells & whistles you believe to be silly or unnecessary.
And speaking of bells & whistles, are you aware that some of the toilets sold have TWO buttons for flushing, one with diminished water flow for #1 and the other at the government-mandated maximum flow for #2? Yeah, at first I thought it was a joke, too, but I’ve actually seen them in person! I don’t get the sense that these have really caught on – after all, it doesn’t make your toilet flush any better. I say, don’t buy one, you’re only encouraging the federal bureaucracy. Who knows? When the regulators dig deeper, just imagine how many classifications of human waste they’ll find? These dual flush toilets might go from 2 buttons to a full keyboard!
Q. How can you tell if a homeowner owns a Toto toilet? A. Don’t worry, they’ll tell you. These toilets are made by a Japanese company, and they have a reputation for clogging less often. They have been said to have less convoluted piping below, and larger flush valves in the tank. However, Toto competes against at least two VERY strong and innovative companies, Kohler and American Standard. Sooner or later, if not now, I suspect whatever performance difference there is or was will disappear. We are already seeing signs that Toto is becoming just another high quality brand, not that there’s anything wrong with that. You once had to pay up to $1,000, and in many cases MANY thousands, for a Toto toilet, but Home Depot now sells some units with the Toto brand at standard toilet prices. So shop carefully, and beware of the hype.
Looking into my “crystal bowl,” I’m going to predict that someday there will be an electrical outlet behind every toilet. That home inspectors will even write you up if you DON’T have one. These outlets will almost certainly be used for pumps to improve flushing performance in light of the onerous federal water capacity limits, but they will also be used for functions unimaginable, some of which you can see today at the Kohler showroom on Clayton Road west of downtown Ladue. Motion-sensing toilet seats that open when you approach, man-resistant seats that lower automatically when done, foot warmers, music, remote control by Blue Tooth, colored lighting, seat warmers, massagers, checking by smart phone to see if it is “occupied,” bidet-type features, and more. You have no idea.
As we approach the promise of adding electrical power to toilets, surely federal regulators must now be plotting to curb the energy use from those additional electric outlets. Must be frustrating to think they may never get us back to that waterless, powerless outhouse with the cut-out crescent moon.
While sitting in a Lion’s Choice the other day, daydreaming about leaky faucets, the background music suddenly caught my attention. I couldn’t quite make out the lyrics, but they went something like “if you like it, you better put a wax ring on it”. For a moment, I thought the singer — someone you probably never heard of named “Beyonce” — was speaking only to me, and her words brought back a flush of memories of all the times Fix St Louis had spared our customers further ceiling and furniture damage by changing the wax ring on an upstairs toilet.
So I went online looking for the video, where I watched her dance with 2 OTHER young ladies singing about their eligibility, and ALL of them had tremendous talent. And by “talent” I mean that if this dancing thing doesn’t work out for them, we sure could use their ability to contort their bodies to climb under kitchen sink cabinets to fix drains, slither through crawl spaces, and scamper through attics while stepping only on joists to avoid plunging through the ceiling immediately below. Apparently, the baby in the video below also finds their dexterity remarkable and worth emulating.
Now, not being familiar with Beyonce’s full body of work, I don’t know if her songs cover the full range of causes of ceiling water leaks. So just in case, here are the most likely causes for these leaks that we see at Fix St Louis.
These are generally not the types of repairs homeowners can take on themselves. And if you ever had someone in your home try to do caulking, there’s a good chance there’s now a thick, ugly glob of white goop where a narrow white line used to be. So, next time you see a water stain on your ceiling, take Beyonce’s advice — “Say our name, say our name.” When it comes to repairing leaks and restoring drywall, Fix St Louis has all the moves you need.
Is it my imagination, or did millions of Americans just update their “Facebook Status” to “Demand Privacy,” after years of telling anyone who would listen how much more exciting their lives were than yours? No wonder Mark Zuckerberg had that deer-in-the-headlights look in front of Congress.
Fortunately, we at Fix St Louis are not Mark Zuckerberg, because OUR “community” of home-owning folks acts a whole lot more rationally. It’s true many of you live in homes with unfortunate “HELLO WORLD!!” features, if you know what I mean. Flaws that allow total strangers to publicly view what really should be private moments of indecent exposure, intimacy, or any other activity that should stay in Vegas. But once they realize something can be done about it, they run to Fix St Louis who will fix it, rather than Congress, who will just blather on and use it to raise campaign money.
Here are the 3 areas for increased privacy our customers request most:
Hey, you’re all grown-up now, and you made it! You’re living in a HOUSE. Not your parent’s basement, or some dorm, commune, hostel, or refugee camp. You’ve EARNED your privacy. Let Fix St Louis help you keep it.
Sure, you hear a lot about the war on women. But for those of us who spend a lot of our time with our heads in toilets, you’d swear there was a war on men. Let me bring you up-to-date on some developments in toilets that the mainstream media refuses to cover.
It’s been said the purpose of NATO in post-WWII Europe was to keep the Russians out, the Americans in, and the Germans down. So, I think that must be behind the politically-correct movement to turn German men into “Sitzpinklers”, those who assume the seated rather than the spraying position in the bathroom. Unfortunately for women everywhere, it appears this cause has been lost, as “Sitzpinkler” in Germany has come to mean a man who is hen-pecked or is a wuss.
More recently there was an attempt to force men to hold the future of the planet in their hands by introducing the two-button toilet. To preserve our precious water resource, which only covers 70% of the Earth’s surface, men were being asked to push the smaller of 2 flush buttons. This button releases the smaller amount of water needed to handle the unique, all-liquid toilet contents possible only by men. This experiment has also failed, as men who cannot be trained to lower the seat also cannot be trained to press the smaller of 2 buttons, no matter how good the cause.
Another idea bound to fail in America was the attempted incorporation of the European bidet into toilets. One of the latest attempts by Kohler introduces a system that seems more like an inverted car wash. It has a water-spraying wand that pops-out during the rinse cycle, followed by an air dryer that pops-out as a finale. But since American men are generally repulsed by thinking about lady parts this way, and queasy about getting this type of ambush from below themselves, this battle has now shifted to the shower with the emergence of hand-held showerheads.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think a new innovative toilet by Kohler is designed to simulate the experience of straddling the fountains at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. In addition to the under-chassis car wash bidet mentioned above, it features – and I am not making this up – ambient colored lighting with 8 colors and 3 programming options, a heated seat, a foot warmer, and wireless bluetooth music sync capability. Maybe what happens in Vegas ought to stay in Vegas.
When I recently visited the Kohler showroom on Clayton Road in Ladue, I got a glimpse of the future, and surprisingly it may be a good one for men. When I walked by a toilet, I could swear the thing saluted me, and for a fleeting moment thought this old handyman was finally getting the respect he always craved and deserved. But actually, this toilet was just showing-off its motion-activated, hands-off opening capability. Then, when I walked away, it lowered the lid all by itself, shielding future generations of men from accusations of negligence. Further endearing itself to men, it even came with its own REMOTE! Clearly, America is back!
So, you women out there who think that being a man is all about flouting our privilege, think again. In any event, we men are certainly not leading from behind.