After watching the Democrat debate, in which candidate Andrew Yang promised every American $1,000 per month, I had trouble falling asleep. As I laid in bed awake, counting drips from a leaking bathtub spout instead of sheep, I imagined what it would be like if we handymen formed our own political party – I dunno, maybe called the “House Labor” party. And we ran our OWN candidate for president. Is this so crazy?
After all, who understands the American household better than a Fix St Louis handyman? Well, at least the part of the household that is LITERALLY the house. And, who LITERALLY acts more like a “servant,” us handymen or so-called “public servants”? And who LITERALLY bends over backwards to serve our fellow Americans, a politician or our guys tightening the cold water faucet under your kitchen sink?
I guess I’ve got to accept that we handymen just don’t have much clout. A politician can say a computer model has now predicted it’s gonna be a COUPLE OF DEGREES warmer a HUNDRED YEARS from now, and it’s met with the rending of garments and the gnashing of teeth. But when we handymen humbly advise that the average temperature in St Louis will drop by FORTY DEGREES in the next FOUR MONTHS, it’s met with a shrug.
So anyway, if you’ll humor me for a moment, let me present the climate change platform of the House Labor party for the next few months.
We’re now entering a season in which the outside nighttime temperature will be a comfortable 72 degrees or less. So wouldn’t it be nice if you could turn-off your air conditioner at night, and instead bring that COOL, CLEAN air into your house (no, obviously we’re not talking to you, our beloved customers in Sauget, Illinois).
Well, there’s actually an easy way to do this. Ever see on the hallway ceiling of a house, maybe your own, a large metal square with louvers? That’s a “whole house fan” (BTW, not an “attic fan,” but that’s for another time). When you open your windows and turn it on, cool air flows right into your house. Fix St Louis can install and replace whole house fans.
Have you ever seen that pink fuzzy stuff on the floor of your attic? If it’s less than 9″ deep anywhere in your attic, you need some more. Fix St Louis can handle that.
Can you see daylight around the sides or bottom of any of your outside doors? If light can get through, so can cold air. Fix St Louis can do a bunch of things to fix that. We can realign your door, which might also make it easier to open and close. We can replace the rubbery strips on the door frame sides, known as “weatherstripping.” We can adjust the threshold that sits beneath the door. And we can replace the rubbery strip attached to the bottom of the door, known as a “door sweep.”
Look, we at Fix St Louis are simply your humble servants. We’re not going to fine, use force, or imprison you if you DON’T do these things, unlike some other public servants we might mention. But if these small projects can help you adapt to the imminent climate change, and some nice young man named Andrew Yang says he’ll give you the money to pay for it, what’s not to like?
Yes, it’s true. Fix St Louis will be throwing the first pitch at the season opener, even though the Cardinal’s season opened last Thursday. But, who gave BASEBALL the right to name the seasons, anyway? THAT will come as news to those who celebrate the Harvest Season, the Lenten Season, and the Monsoon Season.
We at Fix St Louis have our own seasons, too. As a reader, you know we recently ended the “FiXmas Season,” that year-end time when homeowners get their homes repaired for holiday guests.
But looking at the Fix St Louis calendar, we see that we are quickly approaching the “Thermal Equinox,” after which the TEMPERATURE and SMELL of the fresh air OUTSIDE your home are better than anything your air conditioner or furnace can produce inside. (Unless, of course, you live in Sauget, Illinois.)
So, here’s the first pitch of the season: If you have a working “Whole House Fan,” use it. If it’s not working, let Fix St Louis repair or replace it. And, if you don’t have a fan, let us install one. Your house will be more comfortable and you’ll see big savings in your air conditioning bills.
If you have no idea what I’m talking about listen-up, and go to your hallway and look-up. There’s a good chance you’ll see something on the ceiling that looks like the thing below. Now look at your hallway walls. See a switch or rotary dial you never knew was for? That’s how you turn it on. If your Whole House Fan is working, you will hear a big “whoosh” sound, followed by the louvers slowly opening. Fresh air will be sucked inside through your open windows and doors, flow all through your house, enter these louvers, then be shoved outside through vents and openings in the attic above.
BTW, these Whole House Fans are often MISTAKENLY called “Attic Fans.” Attic fans are a thing, too, but they are not installed in hallway ceilings, and you cannot see them from inside the house. They are only installed in attics, either behind gable vents or beneath roof vents. Their purpose is simply to remove hot air from the attic so that the ceilings below don’t become so hot that they warm-up your house or make your air conditioner work harder.
So as you can see, we here at Fix St Louis have our own seasons, we have our own fans, and we throw our own pitches. Could Dr Steve bobble-head night be far behind?
Some have said that “Solar Power is the energy of the future…and always will be.” OK, so nobody ever said that, until I just did in the last sentence. But may I respectfully suggest this so-called ‘miracle’ energy source hasn’t really caught on BECAUSE IT ONLY WORKS WHEN THE SUN’S OUT!!! Maybe it’s time to give the MOON a chance.
To that end, this handyman is thinking one of the true energy solutions might have been hiding in plain sight all along. Maybe it’s even hanging from your hallway ceiling right now – an appliance that promises to tap the awesome power of the MOON to give you FREE air conditioning, even on most summer nights.
The unit below is often mistakenly called an “attic fan,” even though real attic fans are found in, uh, attics, NOT on hallway ceilings. And its correct name, “Whole House Fan,” kinda misses the point. I like to think of them as ‘Lunar-Powered Night Time Air Conditioners.’
Here’s all you need to do to see how it works. On any summer night when the outside temperature dips below 72 degrees, open a couple of windows, turn it on, then turn OFF your air conditioning. Your house will immediately cool down to room temperature or less, your electric bills will dip, AND you’ll also be bringing in the FRESH smell of the outdoors (that is, if you don’t live in Sauget, Illinois).
As far as HOW it works, while I’m just your humble handyman and not a climate scientist like Al Gore, I think I get it. You know how the Moon shines because it reflects the light of the Sun? And, how the Moon does strange things that affect the tides? Well, good for you for paying attention in Middle School, but that has nothing to do with it. It’s the unique LACK of the power of the Moon to heat-up the Earth that makes cool nights possible.
So for those of you lucky enough to already have this Lunar-powered appliance on your hallway ceiling, start using it at night. And for the far greater number of you who: 1) have one; 2) never knew what the heck it was; 3) it hasn’t been used for the past 2 generations of prior owners of your house; and 4) so it doesn’t even work anymore, call Fix St Louis and we’ll fix or replace it. And for those of you who don’t even know what I’m talking about, call us for a free estimate for installing one.
As they sing in one of those old MUNY classics, “The Moon belongs to everyone, the best things in life are free.” And as they say on those old motel billboards, “Sleep well, sleep cheap.” Good advice, to which we can only add “Call Fix St Louis.”
It’s been a while since we’ve felt threatened by the former Soviet Union, yet today’s temperatures feel like we’ve been exiled to Siberia. OK, I’m exaggerating a bit – it’s actually a balmy day here compared to 27º below zero in Siberia as I write this. But STILL, this is AMERICA where all of us get to live like oligarchs in dachas, not prisoners in labor camps.
So if your house is a bit chilly right now, it’s only because you’re not fully exercising your rights endowed by your Creator to life, liberty, and the pursuit of comfort. Or something that means about the same thing, according to this particular Constitutional scholar. So, let’s rat-out the Soviet-style saboteurs in your home and bring them to justice:
If you have any gaps at the top or bottom of your windows that are letting in cold air, Fix St Louis can eliminate them. We can realign misaligned windows, replace faulty “window balances” that create jams, and add weatherstripping. If you’ve got old-timey windows that have a single pane of glass, the kind often accompanied by separate storm windows, we can bring you into the late 20th century with new windows that have 2 panes of glass and an insulating space in between.
If you have cold air coming in from the sides or top of your door, Fix St Louis can replace your weatherstripping. If the cold air is sneaking in from the bottom, we can replace that broken door sweep at the bottom of your door, and maybe adjust or replace your threshold. We can also realign misaligned doors and repair rotted door jambs and trim.
If the ceiling on your highest floor feels cold, it may be making your whole house cold. We can add insulation to your attic to keep that cold air away from that ceiling. You’ll want to check to make sure you’ve got at least 9″ of that fluffy stuff on the floor of your attic, which yields an insulating value of ‘R-30.’ (Don’t feel bad – I don’t know what the ’30’ means either).
Fix St Louis is not in the business of selling furnaces, so this will be just another handyman’s opinion. From the ads you hear on the radio, you’d almost think the purpose of buying a furnace is to become ‘efficient’, not comfortable. But the basics are that your furnace needs to be reliable, the right size for your house, and have blowers that function properly. There are also some variations on blower features that may or may not make a difference. Personally, I’m skeptical that the highest efficiency furnaces (e.g. 95%) ever pay for themselves anymore given their higher cost, more parts that can break, and lower recent costs of petroleum.
It’s a shame that most of what our kids know about the Soviet Union they learned from Yakov Smirnoff’s show in Branson, and frightening to think about future generations now that Yakov’s theater features Acrobats of China. So, let’s just do our best to keep the torch of liberty lit and our pilot lights glowing.
Watching Jeopardy recently for the first time in many years and trying to come up with the answers (or is that questions?), I started feeling pretty good about myself. That is, until I realized that bell going off the split second the board was revealed wasn’t synced to the answer’s appearance, but to a contestant signaling they ALREADY KNEW the answer.
So, maybe I will never be accepted as a Jeopardy contestant until hell freezes over or Alex Trebec starts introducing categories like “Handyman” and “Toilet Bowl.” But, I can at least pretend to be Alex for a single episode of “Dr Steve’s Tips.” So, here goes:
The category is “Air Circulation.” And the answer is “This fan, commonly found on the ceiling of hallways, is best known WRONGLY by another fan’s name.”
Five seconds pass. Buzzzzz. “I’m sorry,” I say in a sad voice, “the answer is Whole House Fan.” I then sing a few bars from a song that includes the lyric “whole house fan,” while contestants sigh in recognition they should have known that.
Those few of you out there who actually got this answer (question?) may not know that everybody BUT you mistakenly calls this an “attic fan,” another real and useful thing, but not the same thing at all.
An attic fan is designed to keep your ATTIC cool, and only indirectly makes your house cooler. A whole house fan DIRECTLY makes your house cooler. More specifically:
But, you don’t really need to know any of that. If you’re new to any of this, here’s the biggest improvement you can make:
OK, just one more Jeopardy question/answer. The answer IS: “This company with an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau provides one stop shopping for professional home repairs.” Maybe that one was too easy. OK, Alex, back to you. But, we’ll see you next time on Dr Steve’s Tips!
When you think about it, isn’t it amazing that Americans now EXPECT the inside of their homes to always be the SAME TEMPERATURE? Every single day of the year? No matter what’s going on outside? As they might say at the Yakov Smirnoff dinner theater in Branson, “What a country!”
And, just like the final act of every show in Branson we, too, at Fix St Louis salute America’s exceptionalism and progress, so make no apologies for our nation’s unending quest to make our homes more comfortable. We pay no heed to those handwringing, cardigan-wearing naysayers who tell us we must scale-back our lifestyles – those people who THINK of themselves as ‘sophisticated’ yet, would you believe, have never even HEARD of the Baldknobbers or the Dixie Stampede?
Here are just a few of the ways Fix St Louis can help you, with little to no sacrifice, put an end to climate change on the inside of your home:
Let’s show the rest of the world how to live as we seek life, liberty, and the pursuit of comfort, which I’ve got to believe is a necessary subset of “happiness,” am I right? Let them have their Paris. We’ll always have Branson.
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