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

Will Trick-or-Treaters Think that  YOU Live in a Haunted House?

It’s not surprising that ghosts live in homes that look haunted — keeping-up with exterior repairs is just not their thing. Look, I’m just a handyman who spends his days listening to gurgling noises coming from toilets, not listening to the dead. But I HAVE heard that ghosts are completely preoccupied obsessing over unresolved issues from their time on Earth — like strained relationships, unrequited love, or losing a close election for President.

Unfortunately, it’s all too easy for non-ghost homeowners to fall into this same trap, allowing the front of their homes to slip into disrepair simply by not paying attention. For instance, how many people these days return home when it’s dark, pull into their driveway, then enter their house from a door inside the garage? They might never notice the small things visitors see that make a house look neglected, if not haunted.

At Fix St Louis, we don’t get rid of ghosts, but we do remove the tell-tale signs that a house may be haunted, or suggest the inhabitants may either be recluses or stark-raving mad. Here’s how:

Non-Working Doorbell — When we at Fix St Louis visit a house, you may notice that we BOTH ring the doorbell AND knock. It’s not that we’re OCD, or neurotic, or anything like that. It’s that so many of you don’t have doorbells that work. You may already know about these new RING doorbells that alert you to folks at your door through your smartphone, and can even show you what they look like. Sure, we install those. But we can also fix the system you have right now and, if the wiring is hopelessly screwed-up, install a wireless unit.

Leaning Mailboxes — If a leaning tombstone tells you that a cemetery is really old, what does a leaning mailbox say about your house? Worse still, it’s the first thing visitors see as they’re reading all the street numbers on mailboxes trying to find your house in the first place! Fix St Louis can replant your mailbox post, but it’s probably time for us to simply replace it.

Tilting Sidewalk Slabs & High Step To Porch

The concrete slabs on the way to your front porch settle and, yes, it makes a house look old. But worse than that, they can create trip hazards, particularly when that last slab to the front porch has sunk really low and your visitors don’t notice they have to lift their foot higher-than-usual to reach it. If you don’t want to have your house haunted by someone who broke their hip and never recovered, let Fix St Louis help you solve this problem.

Dark Lights

There are many reasons front door lights don’t come on when it’s dark. Sometimes it’s because homeowners forget to flip the light switch, sometimes it’s because replacing burned-out bulbs is put-off because the bulbs are difficult to change, sometimes it’s a timer that wasn’t reset after a power outage, and sometimes the light fixture simply broke and was never fixed or replaced. One of our favorite solutions is installing dusk-to-dawn sensors that can operate one or more lights, and screwing-in long-lasting LED bulbs. That way, homeowners can pretty much stop thinking about their lights turning on and off when they’re supposed to. But whatever your issue, Fix St Louis can handle it.

Detached Shutters

If your shutters are slipping or pulling away from your house, Fix St Louis can repair them. We can also replace shutters entirely, which is less expensive than you think.

Cracked Window Glass

Maybe you’ve been ignoring small cracks in your windows. But, it’s good to have these broken glass panes replaced for reasons of safety, insulation, and what-will-your-visitors-think. A lot of folks think a crack means that the entire window needs to be replaced. Not true, it’s usually just about the glass. Fix St Louis can help.

Powerwashing

At Fix St Louis, we see a lot of dirty vinyl siding, particularly on the walls of covered front porches. That’s because in many cases porch siding never gets any sun, so stays moist and provides a good place for mold to grow. Keep in mind that Fix St Louis specializes in small jobs, so there’s no reason to think we’ve got to powerwash your entire house. And while you’re thinking about it, check-out the siding on the north side of your house which, like your porch, may be getting very little sunlight.

Hey, you’re contributing heavily to your community this Halloween — in over-the-top front lawn decorations, messy pumpkin-carving, mini-Snickers bars, and in so many other ways. Why create all that goodwill among your neighbors, only to have trick-or-treaters dish to their parents about THAT house on the street that just so happens to be yours? When it’s light outside, spend a couple of minutes in front of your house, and think about how your house looks to others. When you’ve recovered from the shock, call Fix St Louis. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

Dr Steve
Fix St Louis
314-434-4100

Fall Edition:
What to do when things fall off your house

Sometimes it’s beautiful when things fall, like autumn leaves, Niagara Falls, and falling in love. For some falls, folks think better things came after, like the fall of Rome, the Berlin Wall, and Man’s fallen nature. But for most things that fall, it’s not good – you just want to get it fixed right away, and move on.

In the fallen world we at Fix St Louis live in, we see homeowners every day who are particularly rattled that something fell off their house. For starters, they struggle to figure out who to call, e.g. is there really any such thing as a “shutter-person”? And when they think they figured that out, they can’t imagine what contractor in their right mind would want to be bothered with such a stinkin’ small job.

Now, I’m not sure this is anything to brag about, but Fix St Louis is the ONLY contractor in town that specializes in these stinkin’ small jobs that nobody else wants to do. No job is beneath us! Geez, that didn’t sound too good, did it? But still, it’s something to keep in mind the next time you hear a thud, then find that one of the things listed below has plopped onto your lawn, or is precipitously dangling above it.

Shutters

Yes, Fix St Louis is pretty much the only place to call when a shutter has fallen off or is dangling from your house. But, why wait for that? Why not look-up at your shutters now and see if any of them are bowing away at a corner, or beginning to pull away from your house.

“There’s a thin sheet of something hanging from my roof, and I’m afraid it’s gonna fall and kill somebody”

It is not your fault, it’s ours, that you homeowners can never tell us what that something is. You see, we handy-people are really good at DOING WORK, but really bad at USING WORDS – you might say the exact inverse of a college professor. So, there are no good shorthand words for what you’re trying to describe. That thing homeowners are looking at is actually a very thin sheet of white aluminum that had been wrapped around lumber on an angled edge of their roof. It’s there to protect that lumber from rotting despite the intense sunlight, water, and temperatures it’s exposed to, and it’s a better alternative than paint, which would not hold up as well.

The short answer here is just call Fix St Louis then, like playing a game of charades, give us as many clues as we need until we figure out what you’re talking about, and we’ll take care of it. If you insist unnecessarily in speaking to us in handyman crypto-speak, we call that lumber the “roof fascia.” And we call the aluminum material either “trim coil,” which is a better description of what’s in the box it comes in, or “brake metal,” which is a better description of the machine we use to shape it. But “something hanging from my roof” is just fine. And BTW, it’s so light that if it falls it wouldn’t even crush a ladybug clinging to a blade of grass below.

Siding

Panels of siding can start detaching from a house, or even fall to the ground. If you can find them on your lawn or in your garden, that’s ideal for us – we’ll just put them back up. If you can’t, but happen to have a couple of extra siding panels in your garage, that’s next best. If you don’t, we’re actually very good at the additional stinkin’ small job of finding identical or very similar siding from a manufacturer, and painting it to match if needed. And in those very rare cases where the new siding is negligibly different in its shape profile, we can transplant siding from another part of your house that’s invisible, like behind a bush, and put the new stuff there.

People

The WORST thing that can fall off your house is you or a family member from a ladder, which may be the BEST reason to call Fix St Louis. And in the highly unlikely event that WE fell off a ladder, we protect you by carrying insurance and workers comp.

Just think of Fix St Louis as your “fall guys.” We’ll fall all over ourselves to make you a satisfied customer.