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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 Louis