Go ahead, fight fire with fire. But fight water with plastic.

You might have guessed that, as a busy handyman, your humble correspondent doesn’t spend much time pondering the teachings of the great philosophers. But, I do grab wisdom wherever I can get it.

Like from that late 20th century philosopher, Madonna, who famously said “We are living in a material world, and I am a material girl.” Or the Mr McGuire character in the movie “The Graduate”, with his succinct career guidance to recent grad Dustin Hoffman. “I just want to say one word to you … Just one word … Are you listening? … Plastics … There is a great future in plastics.”

Frankly, I didn’t pick up on their wisdom right away, but eventually I had my Aha! moment. PLASTICS! That MUST have been the material in Madonna’s prophecy! This handyman’s really got to hand it to that girl who knows her materials.

Think about it. What’s the one thing that does the most damage to houses? It’s water. And what material frustrates water the most when it goes about its devious plan to damage your home. Yes, it’s plastic.

Haven’t you noticed all the things in your home that are now made of plastic? If all “plastic” means to you are those small Lego blocks that hurt like hell when you step on them, you’re not thinking big enough. Plastic comes in many disguises, and is now found all throughout your house. Here are some of the best places Fix St Louis can install plastics to keep water from damaging your stuff:

Deck Boards:

 Fix St Louis can replace all the wood on your deck with boards that look just like wood, but don’t rot and never need staining. These “composite” boards are usually made by combining a variety of materials, that are held together and sealed with a petroleum-based resin, i.e. “plastic.”

Doors, Windows, and Front Porch Columns: Have you ever seen rotted wood outside on the wood trim around an entry or garage door, on the base trim of a porch column, or on a window ledge? Fix St Louis can replace these with PVC or composite trim that will never rot. Or we can fill holes with a plastic-based, rot-resistant patching material if the damaged area is small.

Floors:

 There are several areas in your home that, sooner or later, are likely to have an unfortunate water event — particularly bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Water can ruin a floor made of hardwood, laminate flooring, or carpeting. You might want Fix St Louis to replace these floors with “vinyl plank,” a floor made of plastic, but with today’s technologies can be made to look just like wood.

Shutters:

 Unless your home is on the historical register, there is no good reason to replace deteriorating wood shutters with new wood shutters. Since they’re covered with paint anyway, what difference does it make what they’re made of? Go with a material that won’t rot and that you may never need to paint again. Vinyl shutters are what most homeowners choose. But if you want something more sturdy and more resistant to fading, composite shutters are a good choice.

The “great future in plastics” has brought different benefits to different people. For Madonna, judging from what I have seen, it’s been mostly in the form of injections. For Mr McGuire, it’s been in the form of investments that provide a comfortable retirement.

But for you as a homeowner, while I’m no Mr McGuire who can offer his best advice in just ONE word, maybe I can do it if you’ll give me THREE words plus ONE abbreviation… Are you listening?… Call Fix St Louis.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

About Us

Fix St Louis  is the professional alternative to hiring “Chuck in a Truck” or “Pete in a Pick-up”. Our technicians have at least 10 years of experience, are bonded, insured, and show up at firm, scheduled times. We provide full customer service and guarantee our work for a year!

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 Louis
314-434-4100

About Us

Fix St Louis  is the professional alternative to hiring “Chuck in a Truck” or “Pete in a Pick-up”. Our technicians have at least 10 years of experience, are bonded, insured, and show up at firm, scheduled times. We provide full customer service and guarantee our work for a year!

Storm Door: Love it or Lose it

A long time ago, when your humble correspondent was just a handy-boy, I watched a scene from the Wizard of Oz that both shaped and distorted my thinking. Remember when the tornado was coming, and Auntie Em and the farmhands ducked into the cellar from an outside hatch, and two mostly flat-lying doors closed behind them? It’s no wonder that when I first heard the term “storm doors,” I figured those must be them, right?

But later, I learned that “storm doors” are those flimsy half-glass/half-screen doors that are installed in front of other outside doors. Geez, what protection from a storm or tornado would THAT have provided to Auntie Em and the farmhands? Maybe that was the home improvement mistake made by the Wicked Witch of the East, which she paid for dearly by ending-up on the receiving end of a flying house.

So you have to wonder, how did these doors that don’t seem like they could withstand a toddler-pelting of marshmallow Peeps get to be known as “storm doors”? It’s a sad story, actually. Storm doors started out as the door-counterpart of the well-accepted storm WINDOW, which were separate window-type units installed outside of regular windows, to provide supplemental insulation to the ineffective single-pane windows of their time. But when windows transitioned from having a single pane of glass to an integrated double-pane, storm windows became obsolete.

Storm doors suddenly found themselves to be orphans like Dorothy, only without an Auntie Em as a fallback. They lost their entire storm-window family, and were rejected by doors that no longer had any use for their insulation properties.

So, storm doors plummeted into a gender-identity crisis, from which they’ve never fully recovered. Do they identify as providing extra insulation to doors that no longer need them? Do they identify as windows for the times the doors they cover just happen to be open? Or do they identify as door-sized screens that keep bugs out?

Now, I don’t want to be canceled for being a storm-door-a-phobe, but just between you and me, you don’t REALLY need to welcome storm doors into your home. You may be tiring of that blasted thing tripping you up when you bring-in groceries or Amazon packages, and further humiliating you immediately after someone yells “don’t let the storm door hit you on your way out.”

So if you want to LOSE your storm door, call us at Fix St Louis . Our highly trained surgeons will perform a Storm-Door-Ectomy, that includes restoring and painting the screw holes, unpainted areas, and other damage left behind.

On the other hand, you may justifiably LOVE your storm door, even if its helpful properties have no relationship whatsoever to any of the original reasons God invented them. Like these:

More Sunlight: if you have a front or other entry door in a dark area of your home, sure, you can open the door and pretend your storm door is a window. With the exception of large picture windows, it’s likely to be the widest and tallest window in your house.

More Fresh Air: Now THIS one is really a good idea. If you have a whole house fan on the ceiling of a hallway, turn it on, and open the entry door that has a storm door. Fresh air will come whooshing through your house, saving you air conditioning-running time and providing a gentle, fresh-smelling, and comfortable breeze, particularly on summer nights. Although you might want to think twice about doing this if your storm door leads to those exhaust fumes in your garage, or you live in Sauget, Illinois. (Incidentally, Fix St Louis  installs whole house fans, too).

Keeping Toto from Running Outside: Talk to your neighbors, buy girl scout cookies, or let your pet enjoy a ground-level view of the outside without them running out or away.

So always remember. Whether you want to fix, remove, or upgrade your storm door, as Dorothy herself would have said if she had ever left Kansas again — there’s no place like Fix St Louis .

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

About Us

Fix St Louis  is the professional alternative to hiring “Chuck in a Truck” or “Pete in a Pick-up”. Our technicians have at least 10 years of experience, are bonded, insured, and show up at firm, scheduled times. We provide full customer service and guarantee our work for a year!

Baseball-Sized Hornets: Surviving the Next Panic-Demic

hornet

Just when you thought things were getting back to normal, THIS appears in the news earlier this week. Hornets the size of BASEBALLS have been spotted in the state of Washington. This new enemy, known as “Murder Hornets,” are ONCE AGAIN an import from Asia, where they are considered a DELICACY, possibly appearing on menus alongside pangolins and Cream of Bat soup. Is it crazy to think it’s THEIR restaurants and not ours that should be closed?

I don’t know about you, but this time we at Fix St Louis have no intention of listening to so-called “experts” who wear fabulous scarves, use models that spew-out projections off by 3 or more decimal places, and insist we’ll just have to forget granny in memory care.

No, this time we got this. Well, let’s say a combination of Fix St Louis and your choice of Bob the Bug Guy or Pete the Pest Killer got this. Yes, it’s true that this formidable team was deemed “essential” in the last pandemic, but this new threat will be OUR moment, and we are ready and prepared to be elevated to the status of your “humble heroes,” worthy of yard signs thanking us for our service.

Personally, I have every confidence that Bob and Pete will find ways to flatten whatever curve needs flattening, kill off Murder Hornets, and slow down their breeding. This seems pretty doable if you look at that picture above, and wonder if they’re even CAPABLE of attracting mates.

The indispensable role of Fix St Louis will be to maintain appropriate “social distancing” between you and the Murder Hornets. Now, we’re sure we’d have no trouble convincing YOU to comply with staying at least 6′ away from a Murder Hornet. But, not to brag, Fix St Louis has had quite a bit of experience engaging in confrontations and delicate negotiations with hornets, particularly when we work on your decks. And, our “models” show that trying to talk sense to THEM only makes them madder.

Our main weapon against Murder Hornets is our “screening program.” One of these options may be right for you:

  • Window Screens – Fix St Louis can replace the torn mesh on your window screens.
  • Storm Window Screens – We can build and install missing framed screens for your storm window tracks, and also fix torn mesh.
  • Patio Screen Doors – We can repair poorly functioning sliding screen doors, replace missing doors, and fix torn mesh.
  • Storm Doors – In addition to repairing torn screen mesh, we can replace your storm doors with newer, easier-to-use models that allow you to convert between glass and screens by sliding, rather than removing panels.
  • Screened Porches – A lot of folks despair when they see holes and tears in the large screen panels of their screened porches, thinking it’s a very big deal to fix them, because the screens are somehow built into the wood or aluminum framing. No problem, Fix St Louis can handle these, too.

Finally, a panic-demic where the cure is not worse than the disease. Not only will Fix St Louis fixing your screens keep out Murder Hornets, it will also keep out flies, mosquitos, and those mysteriously-appearing lady bugs and stink bugs. And unless you have a thing for Asian delicacies, you aren’t likely to miss any of them.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Now Offering WORLD’S FIRST Curbside Deck Repair!

Hello to all our readers now holed-up and hunkered down in their subdivision hide-outs. Congratulations on being one of life’s winners with your successful, proactive purchases of Schnucks toilet paper, bread, and milk before the shelves were bare and our community was collectively sent to its room.

As an overachiever, you are probably sitting there pondering your next mountain to climb, your next achievement. And, as one who always enjoys a challenge, you may find it intriguing that you must now do this by NOT ONLY avoiding physical contact with any individual outside your immediate family, but also without being within 6′ of anyone who can so much as fog a mirror.

Well, does Fix St Louis have the perfect project for you – get your deck in shape for the summer! Start by walking to your patio door leading to the deck and, while safely behind the glass, look around at the floor boards and railings for evidence of rot. Wouldn’t you like those boards replaced, and possibly the entire deck stained, in time to enjoy it during the warm season, after the authorities have given the “all clear” and you can actually open that door and step outside? But how can you do this without coming too close to another, dreaded human being?

So, here’s how Fix St Louis‘ World’s First curbside deck repair works. Call us at 314-434-4100 and speak with our friendly and still-healthy Customer Service Rep to set-up a CDC-approved visit to your house. Specify that when our not-quite-as-pleasant, but equally healthy estimator shows-up, he report directly, not to your front door, but outside your patio door and taps on the glass. Make your needs known through the glass by speaking loudly, by phone, by charades, and by pointing a whole lot.

A couple of days later, Fix St Louis will send you an estimate by mail, to which you may reply by email or phone. You will then receive proposed work dates by email. The work will be performed by skilled, healthy technicians, all of whom have had significant experience in both talking by phone and playing charades. We even accept payments safely – either online or by snail mail, in which the bugs only flow one-way, to us!

We haven’t yet completed the clinical trials, but we sincerely believe our curbside deck repair methods are at least 10x safer, and less stressful on your back, than carrying around a 10′ pole.

Contact us, without coming in contact with us, to get that deck repaired today! We at Fix St Louis look forward to seeing you from the other side of your patio door glass!

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Outside Your House: A Small World After All or a GE Carousel of Progress?

Virtually everyone who visits Disney World goes on the “It’s a Small World” ride, featuring hundreds of animated dolls dancing and singing to that same ear worm song you all know, as a tribute to today’s international unity and global peace. So it’s understandable why they had to locate it in “Fantasyland,” not far from the Dumbo the Flying Elephant ride.

But you need to go to “Tomorrowland” to see the favorite ride of Walt Disney himself. Originally launched as the “GE Carousel of Progress,” it’s a tribute to how electricity has made our lives better. The audience revolves around 4 stages, showing progressively more recent generations, as we follow the lives of a miraculously non-aging animatronic family. They sit amongst the newfangled electrical devices of their time, like horseless washing machines, sewing machines, and Victrolas, explaining how they can’t believe how good things are, and can’t imagine things ever being better.

The genius of Walt Disney was that he knew better than to locate that animatronic family OUTSIDE their house, where the so-called “Carousel of Progress” had pretty much stalled. Animatronic Granny would be complaining it’s too hot to sit outside during St Louis summers, and too cold during winters. Gramps would complain it was too dark to read the newspaper. Ma and Pa would be at each other’s throats fighting over whose turn it was to use that blasted weed whacker, with its unreliable 2-cycle engine, its stupid pull string, and that even stupider way to let out more trimming string by slamming its bottom on the driveway.

Yes, even the father of an imaginary mouse knew that opening such a ride might jeopardize his park’s credential as the “Happiest Place on Earth.” It would expose that lack of electrical progress has been confining homeowners to the small, small world of the inside of their houses.

It’s a shame that Walt did not live long enough to meet the folks here at Fix St Louis. Some might say we perform “magic” that brings outdoors the benefits of the electricity inside. That we are proverbial “Tinker Bells,” spreading pixie dust that allows homeowners’ outdoor life to take flight. OK, so nobody has ever said that. But still, here’s what we can do for you.

Sit Outside When It’s “Too Hot”

Installing a ceiling fan on a porch, or plugging a stand-up fan into an outdoor outlet, can make ALL the difference in being able to sit outside during our hot St Louis summers. Yeah, per the musical Cinderella, it may be impossible for a plain country bumpkin and a prince to join in marriage, and arguable that daft and dewey-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes, but at Fix St Louis impossible things are happening everyday! We can install outdoor ceiling fans and outdoor electrical outlets where none existed before, no problem. And it doesn’t require magic – or cost as much as you think.

Sit Outside When It’s “Too Cold”

And once you have that additional outdoor electrical outlet discussed above, you can use it when it’s cold out, too. Just plug in one of those inexpensive portable electrical heaters that provides direct heat to your body, not the kind meant to heat up an entire room. You’ll still want to wear clothes when you’re sitting on your porch for reasons I should not have to explain, but that heater can make sitting outside in the winter bearable, if not comfortable.

Trim Your Hedges

Using an electric hedge trimmer can be a real pain. Is there an outlet nearby? Do you have an extension cord long enough? Does that cord keep getting tangled in the bushes? Have you ever accidentally cut the extension cord with a trimmer? How do you wind-up and store an extension cord that may be more than 50 feet long?

These kinds of problems have already been solved for watering lawns and gardens. You buy a hose reel, store it near an outside faucet, pull out the amount of hose you need, and reel it back in when you’re done. Geez, wouldn’t it be nice to have a system like that for electricity, providing power for hedge trimmers and similar outdoor electrical devices?

Good news! In fact, an extension cord equivalent of the garden hose reel HAS been invented and has been available for years! Ever see an auto mechanic with a caged light bulb hanging from the bottom of an open car hood by a hook? Those are often connected to a reel, that the wire retracts into. You can buy one like the pictured model below, which has a 50′ long extension, with both an outlet and very powerful LED light at the end. Now, let’s say you have an electrical outlet just inside your garage door. You could mount this unit near that outlet, plug it in, and you would have a retractable extension cord that would reach a distance of two garage depths. For many folks, that’s enough to reach all their hedges.

Whip Your Weeds

FINALLY, someone has invented a practical replacement for the 2-cycle gas engine on weed whippers. New, rechargeable battery units provide plenty of power to slice-off weeds. And, there’s a slick way to handle all this without dragging your weed whipper and battery all through the house. Just mount the recharging unit near an outlet in the garage. Put the battery in it when you’ve finished the weed whipping, and reinstall the battery in the weed whipper when you are ready to do it again. No solution yet for extending that stupid trimming string. Guess that’s for the next time they update that last station on the Carousel of Progress.

Forgot to mention, Disney’s Carousel of progress has its own ear worm song, played every time the audience is revolving to the next stage. For some of you, the song “There’s a Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow” may still be reverberating in your head after several decades. I don’t know about the “great big beautiful part,” but as for “tomorrow,” a call to Fix St Louis can make your life outdoors a whole lot better. Right, Gramps?

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100