Author Archives: greg

bobsled

G&C Knows Heating

In New England, we have a variety of heating systems; furnaces, boilers, and pumps to name a few. When sitting in our living room, enjoying the Olympics, we’re not too concerned about how the heat gets to us, just that it does and that it follows us everywhere in the house.

As the temps outside fluctuate wildly (as they are now), it can be tough on a central heating system and sometimes cause it to go belly-up. Should that happen, the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating think it’s good to be in the know just in case you have to shop around for a replacement system.

Furnaces

Furnaces are how the majority of North American households’ heat. “This type of heating system is called a ducted warm-air or forced warm-air distribution system,” said Grand Master Plumber and Heating Expert Greg Sheck.

Basically, a furnace works by mixing fuel with air to create a fire. The flames heat an exchanger which produces hot air. The air is pushed by a furnace fan and forced through ductwork downstream of the heat exchanger. “These types of systems used to be big energy guzzlers, but as the demand for conservation has increased, the standards on furnaces have gone up dramatically,” said Sheck.

Boilers

Instead of carrying heat in warm air like a furnace, boiler systems distribute heat in hot water which then gives up heat as it passes through radiators or other devices in rooms throughout the house. The cooler water then returns to the boiler to be reheated.

Long ago they used steam boilers which boiled water and then steam carried heat through the house, condensing to water in the radiators as it cools. This technology, although effective, was very inefficient. Today, boilers are considered top of the line in energy conservation, especially in on-demand systems and radiant heat components.

Heat Pumps

“Heat pumps are basically two-way air conditioners and are very popular,” said Sheck. Heat Pump are often considered the wave of the future for energy conservation. There are a few common types of heat pumps:

  • Air-source heat pumps use the outside air as the heat source in winter and heat sink in summer.
  • Ground-source, or geothermal, heat pumps get their heat from the constant temperature underground.
  • Ductless heat pumps distribute energy through refrigerant lines instead of water or air.

Now You Know

Those are a few of the common central heating systems you run into in today’s heating system market. If you are one of the unlucky few who find themselves heatless as the outdoor temps go up and down like a yo-yo this month, call Greg and Brandon today, they can go over more specifics about which system would be best for your home. G&C knows heating!

master-bath

Recent Project: Master Bathroom Remodel

At G & C Plumbing and Heating we enjoy working on bathroom and kitchen remodels. Take a look at a few before and after photos from our most recent bathroom remodel project.

Looking to update your bathroom? Give us a call; we would love to help!

 

bathroom-budgeting

DIY Bathroom Remodeling Budget Tips

The good guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating often find that most people considering a DIY bathroom remodel go about creating a budget backwards.

Typically…

The Do-It-Yourselfer stands in their bathroom, scowling, and says to themselves, or out loud: “I’m going to scrape together X amount of dollars to fix this #(@!^$% bathroom once and for all.” Then, they grab a sledge hammer and go to town. If, when it’s all said and done, they don’t end up too many thousands of dollars over their pledged dollar amount, they feel pretty good (spoiler alert – half of these folks end up calling G&C to finish the job).

Let’s be honestly, most people attempting a DIY bathroom remodel have no idea what kind of stuff they need or really want to put in into a new bathroom, let alone how to do it. “You really need to consider the materials you plan to use before you can set an accurate budget,” said Greg Sheck, Master Plumber and bathroom remodeler extraordinaire.

So, if you’re going to attempt a DIY, instead of starting with the sledge hammer, Greg suggests you start with a little…

Reconnaissance

“One of the major costs in a remodel is moving fixtures, like the toilet, sink, or tub. If you keep the same floor plan, you’ll spend less on plumbing,” said Sheck (so, let’s pretend that’s what you’re doing).  Now, Greg recommends heading out to your favorite do-it-yourself big-box store or fancy bathroom joint and conducting a little investigation into tile, fixtures (such as a new John, tub, or sink), and accessories like lighting and mirrors. Add it all up!

Once you realize that things like using tile flooring instead of a marble flooring or die-cast zinc-alloy instead of solid gold fixtures can save you, literally, gazillions of dollars, you will be in a better state of mind to pull a number out of your head/bank account to start your project. You might even make an amazing discovery like, “you know what, I think I actually like the floor currently in my bathroom and I am not going to rip that up during the remodel.”

Bottom Line

Consider how much you can invest, what materials you can salvage from your existing bathroom, and how the bottom line fits into the current value and resale value of your home.

Armed with this knowledge, you’re ready to come up with a budget that you can feel confident about! But, if you find yourself now saying, “You know what, this seems like a ton more work than I am up for.” No worries! Greg and Brandon can probably save you money if you contact them to start your bathroom remodel instead of calling, mid-way, to fix your DIY disaster.

Aside from having extreme budgeting expertise and the connections to get material at better prices than the “sales” at a big-box store, the guys can help avoid many of those unforeseen expenses that often pop up mid-DIY project. The “oh, goodness, I think we have to replace the entire plumbing system to install that” kind of catastrophe.  As plumbers with mad contracting skills, Greg and Brandon would be able to tell you costs upfront to avoid over-budget surprises. So, give the guys a call to get the straight and narrow remodeling answers you deserve!

gandc

Exciting Developments on the Horizon for G&C Plumbing and Heating

In the coming months, Greg and Brandon of G&C Plumbing and Heating will be introducing a ton of cool stuff for their customers! There will be set pricing and membership opportunities, so you’re never caught in a lurch if a plumbing disaster strikes. And, they will be upping their game when it comes to bathroom remodeling, too. Keep your eye out, and check in at this website from time to time to see what new and cool stuff is happening with our Plumbers without Cracks.

Of course, they will always remain the faithful and courteous plumbers you can count on and trust. Greg and Brandon pride themselves in always answering the call when you are in need. And now, Christine, Greg’s one and only (and the “C” in G&C), will be the one to answer your call and set up your appointment with they guys. No waiting around for a call back!

Because they always strive to empower customers with as much plumbing knowledge as possible, here are some tried and true tips the guys often recommend to help avoid potential disasters. We like to call them…

Expert Tips from the Trenches.

  1. Dear John – Although it is rare to have your porcelain throne spontaneously explode, it can happen. More likely, a leaky toilet is the result of the working parts inside the toilet failing. When this is the case, slowly but surely, your toilet can waste enough water to fill an Olympic-sized pool.”If you suspect a leak, you or your eight-year-old can run a fun and easy test by pouring a bit of food coloring into the toilet’s tank,” says Greg, a plumber with over 20 years of experience. “If you see coloring in the bowl the next day, you need to replace the flush valve.” A bit of preventative maintenance on your favorite lounge chair can go a long way.
  2.  Don’t Burn Your Pipes or Your Plumbers – Bathroom and kitchen sinks can quickly get clogged with hair, soap residue, and fats. This is a messy problem that can become disastrous if not attended. In the bathroom you can use a wet/dry vacuum to remove small masses, and in the kitchen, flush the drain with a bucket full of boiling water to help oil dissolve. However, please never pour flesh eating products like Drano in your sink. “I can’t tell you how many times I have been chemically burned after opening a pipe to clear a problematic drain,” said Brandon Sheck. These over the counter products run along the bottom of a pipe and burnout a small path along the way, but they don’t actually clean out the problem and often get trapped themselves creating a little corrosive chemical pool that can damage your pipes and the hands that fix them.The simplest way to keep drains running clean is to not put clogging material down there. If you do experience a slowing of your drain, just remember – don’t burn your plumbers! G&C recommends using BIO-Clean. This product is not available in stores and is a blend of bacteria and enzymes. The bacteria are natural, not genetically-engineered. The enzyme concentration is the most powerful on the market and is used by many amazing plumbers such as G&C.
  3.  Stinky Water – “If your water stinks, it’s likely your water heater is to blame,” says Greg Sheck. The internal parts that do the heating in the tank can corrode because they spend their lives in a hot water chemical bath. The by-products of the corrosion mix with your water and cause a horrible smell. If this happens, you need to call a plumber immediately. The chemical breakdown of your water heater’s components is happening too fast, and your water may pose a health risk.
  4.  Washing Machine Check-UP – Another plumbing point that can be become problematic is a set of rubber connection hoses on your washing machine. “These hoses can dry out, burst and the next thing you know, the rinse cycle is happening in your family room,” said Brandon. To avoid this plumbing problem, check the hoses twice year for cracks and blisters. If crawling behind your washer twice a year is going to be a long shot, you might want to call G&C to replace the rubber hoses with steel models and have them install a single-lever shutoff valve that is easy to reach.
frozen-pipe

Keep Your Pipes from Freezing in Wicked Cold Temps

Last week’s ‘Bomb Cyclone’ was something else. Who calls a storm that? Anyway, a big dump of snow in January has become the norm here in New England, but these subzero temperatures are a bit disturbing. Greg and Brandon from G&C Plumbing and Heating had their hands full after the storm helping customers with frozen pipe issues.

Frozen pipes are a problem because they prevent water flow, but even worse, frozen pipes can eventually burst, causing damage and potential flooding. A lot of people don’t even know they have burst or split pipes until it gets warmer and the ice blockages melt – making a mess. “The biggest problem we typically see is improper insulation,” said Grand Master Plumber Greg who suggests stopping by your local hardware to pick up some rubber foam pipe insulation. “The sleeves are easy to pop on and can save you a ton of headache when temps dip. Additional insulation can also be added to walls and ceilings to keep the pipes warm.”

But, what if you can’t get to the pipes, can’t see them, don’t have that kind of time or money to add insulation this month, or have already done this and are still worried about pipes freezing? No worries. The guys have three plumber-grade tips to help keep your home safe and comfortable during this deep freeze.

  1. Keep interior doors and access panels open. Pipes are often located in cabinets. When the temperatures drop, it is a good idea to keep cabinet doors open so that the heat from the rest of the house can keep the pipes warm as well. You should also keep all interior doors open so that the heat can flow throughout the home. This leads us to…
  2. Keep the heat on. Even if you’re skipping out of town to warmer weather, make sure that the heat is kept on. “The heat does not have to be kept as high as you normally would keep it if you were actually home, but keeping it set above 60 degrees is a good idea especially when it’s really cold out,” said Greg. This should provide enough heat to keep the pipes warm and to prevent any water inside from freezing. And, your grandfather was right –
  3. Allow faucets to drip. Say you have an area of the house where it gets particularly cold, allow the faucets in that area to drip slightly. “Allowing the faucet to be open will relieve pressure in the system. If a pipe freezes, it is actually the pressure that is created between the blockage and the faucet that will cause the pipe to burst,” said Sheck. Allowing the faucet to be open will prevent this pressure from building up and thus, keep the pipe from bursting.

Follow these tips when the temps and wind chill dip to help keep your home safe and comfortable. If you have questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to call the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating. They can help with any problems you have this season.

blue-bathroom

Updating Your Bathroom – A New Year’s Resolution.

Sure, Greg and Brandon of G&C Plumbing and Heating can come by and fix your leaky robin’s egg blue sink. And, they can come back and reseal your pink toilet. Later, they’ll be back over to stop the water from leaking through the bright yellow tile in your tub.

But, why not get cracking on your New Year’s resolution list and have Greg and Brandon rip all that “nostalgia” out to update your bathroom to a century where they actually still manufacture the parts that make up your sink, tub, and toilet. They can turn your bathroom into your favorite thing in 2018.

G&C Plumbing and Heating are bathroom remodeling experts

Although Greg can talk for hours about the engineering genius behind Victorian era toilet bowls, the master plumber understands the frustrations of living in antiquity which is why he has a general contractor’s license!

“I wanted to be able to provide customers the plumbing expertise required in bathroom remodeling projects, from start to finish,” said Greg about why he felt the license was important to his business. “As a plumber, I am able to see the bigger picture in a bathroom remodel and save customers some money by taking out the middle man. Brandon and I do all the work ourselves and call in experts for detailing and carpentry work.”

Benefits of having it done right the first time

The guys understand what works in a bathroom. From selecting and installing proper tile that you won’t slip on, to determining the best placement for vanities, tubs and toilets; the guys understand the mechanics behind each aspect involved in your bathroom.

The guys think about function when designing a bathroom. From custom shower doors that prevent water from escaping, to installing a handrail in a shower to prevent injury, and installing outlets that shut off if an electrical item falls into water; they think about all of that for you.

The guys focus on efficiency. From installing efficient toilets and shower-heads, to selecting tubs that fill with less water, this know-how can save you some green on water bills. Heat exchangers and more efficient water heaters can save on gas bills. Timers on bathroom fans, better lighting, or a glazed window can save on electricity bills. G&C Plumbing and Heating totally gets this and can get it done right!

Happy New Year!

If you’re ready to ditch the pink tile and those crazy glass flowers holding up your 50-year-old vanity mirror, give Greg and Brandon a call. They’ll be honored to make honest and helpful suggestions to create the bathroom of your dreams in 2018!

holidays

G&C Plumbing & Heating – A Holiday Tale

Clients ask Greg and Brandon Sheck all the time, “Why isn’t it G&B Plumbing and Heating?” Brandon will sort of shrug and tilt his head towards his father, and Greg will blush slightly and say, “The C is for my wife’s name, Christine.” But, there is more to this story, and during this Holiday Season, we thought it would be nice to tell the sweet version!

Young Greg Sheck

Greg found his first plumbing job in 1985. He took the job because it was a $.50 raise over his current job of pumping gas for $5 hour.  “I didn’t know anything about plumbing, but I was pretty into a .50 raise, so I started plumbing on weekends until I graduated high school.” After high school, Greg started plumbing full-time and discovered he really liked it. “My boss pretty much handed responsibility over to me, so I had to learn how to do plumbing the hard way, which usually entailed doing it wrong, getting yelled at, and then doing it again.”

Despite the learning curve, Greg managed to stick it out and in 1990, he passed his Journeyman’s plumbers license. He was offered a great job, and here is where the romance kicks in, he got married to a lovely lady named Christine!

Greg continued working for the same plumbing company for 14-years, but Christine knew he could do more. After raising their beautiful baby boy Brandon, and sweet baby girl Tayla, she encouraged Greg to start his own company – one that was reflective of his business principles. “Over the years, I’d put together a code of how I wanted to treat the people I worked with,” said Sheck.

  • Treat people how they would like to be treated.
  • Make word of mouth the best advertising by striving to keep those words positive.
  • Be exceedingly polite, personable, and honest with customers and even their pets.
  • Return everyone’s phone call.

For all the Right Reasons

In 2005, G&C Plumbing and Heating was born to carry out Greg’s principles. (He’s totally on the nice list.) “I was nervous at first, but Christine never had a doubt,” said Sheck. A family business through and through, Brandon came on board later that year as an apprentice to Greg. The father and son team started working exclusively for homeowners doing residential service and repair work, and Christine answers their phones when the guys are busy on a job. “Turns out it was the right move, business has never been better,” said Sheck.

The moral of this little holiday tale: Listen to the people who know you best, they are usually right. And if you have plumbing, heating, or bathroom remodeling questions, listen to Greg and Brandon Sheck -They know your name, and you recognize the G&C Truck as it travels back and forth across southern Mass. They are your neighbors, and they’ve got your back. Happy Holidays!

shower head

Showerheads and Water Conservation

To round out our showerhead blog earlier this month, Brandon Sheck, Plumbing Wonder and Brilliant Bathroom Remodeler from G&C Plumbing and Heating, is following up on his dad’s impressive knowledge of showerhead history with some input on water conservation and water conserving showerheads on the market today.

WaterSense and the Showerheads

According to the EPA, showering accounts for nearly 17 percent of residential indoor water use for the average family. To help with water conservation, the EPA developed the Watersense label in 2006 as a voluntary program for manufacturers. “The EPA provided specifications for water efficient products and if a manufacturer meets those specifications, the product is eligible for third-party testing, and then rewarded with the right to put the WaterSense label on that product,” said the Brandon.

Standard showerheads use 2.5 gallons of water per minute (gpm). Watersaving showerheads that earn the WaterSense label must use no more than 2.0 gpm. “The WaterSense label is also supposed to ensure that the products provide a “satisfactory shower” that is equal to or better than conventional showerheads,” said Brandon.

A “satisfactory shower” is determined by a showerhead’s water coverage and spray intensity. To compensate for using less water, which naturally results in less intensity, “showerhead designers found it beneficial to aerate their sprays to compensate for the smaller holes in the showerhead,” said Brandon. This resulted in some showers feeling more like a mist then a spray which can feel “less wet.” “Although, some people actually enjoy the misty feeling, so it’s become a bit of a personal choice when selecting a water conserving showerhead,” said Brandon. The following are a few he suggests to clients when they are remodeling their bathroom and want to incorporate a Watersense Certified showerhead:

Nebia
“The device uses a water dispersion system adapted from the agricultural industry to release a thick mist,” said Brandon who stresses that this showerhead may not be for everyone because even the website describes the Nebia as “akin to stepping into a cloud.” But, if you are looking for maximum water conservation, the Nebia uses just .75gpm on its normal setting and only slightly more on its high-pressure setting.

High Sierra
This is a more traditional water conservation showerhead found in many of the newer bathrooms today. The Sierra has a pivoting head which allows people to focus the water where they’d like. “With only a 1.5gpm, this low flow showerhead feels a lot like a traditional showerhead, but with some serious water conservation,” said Brandon.

Speakman Retraction
Another traditional design, this retraction showerhead pulsates to simulate the feeling of high pressure. “It does a good job recreating the traditional showerhead feeling,” said Brandon. The design has a single function spray setting that concentrates water pressure with a turbine-powered engine. It is also WaterSense Certified at 1.5gpm.

Delta Showerheads with H2O Kinetic Technology
“These showerheads make a wave pattern which simulates the feeling of being splashed to create more pressure,” said Brandon. Inside the showerhead, water is channeled through a series of chambers that generates velocity and sculpts the water into a wave pattern. “The good news is, there are no internal moving parts inside the head that will break or degrade over time,” said Brandon.

Personal Choice

The showerheads above each provide a unique shower experience that some people might enjoy, and others may not. As for Brandon, he’s a fan of that traditional shower feeling that delivers maximum spray intensity and a satisfying wet feeling. If you want to learn more about the various showerhead options out there, give the guys at G&C a call and they’ll gladly give you their two cents on any questions you have. And, if you are thinking about remodeling your bathroom, G&C can take care of the whole thing for you!

showerhead

Showerheads – A History

During a recent bathroom remodel, the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating got some pretty interesting questions about showerheads. It started off simple enough about if “water saving” showerhead models were any good, but then took a turn for the fascinating when Greg Sheck, Grand Master Plumber and Bathroom Remodeler Extraordinaire, found himself sharing his in-depth knowledge about showerhead history. It’s totally worth repeating here!

In the Beginning

Bathrooms, a room for bathing and doing your business, didn’t really become a “thing” until the late 1800’s. It was around this time that public health officials discovered that drinking water with human waste in it, even just a little bit, made people sick (bout time, folks – gross). “So, it was the city planners that started creating the plumbing infrastructure that would provide clean water in one pipe and remove sewage through another,” said Sheck.

As running water became a feature in all houses and apartments, the convenience of hot water from the tap soon followed. “By the early 1900s, bathrooms were finally becoming a standard part of every new house, complete with a sink, toilet, and bathtub,” said Sheck.

The Middle

Everyone saw the benefits of standing to wash, and by 1907, plumbing fixture magazines showcased model bathrooms that look completely familiar to us with bathtubs that have shower heads consisting of a nozzle attached to the water pipe and covered with a round face with holes in it.

For the next 85 years this showerhead design was in pretty much every bathroom all over the US. It wasn’t until the US Government decided water conservation was something to be taken seriously, that national water flow standards were enacted in the U.S. Energy Policy Act of 1992.

“This set minimum efficiency standards for toilets, faucets, urinals, and showers, and the new law mandated that shower heads were not to exceed a flow rate of more than 2.5 gallons per minute at a water pressure of 80 pounds per square inch,” said Sheck who knows you might not know what he’s saying there, but enjoys his showers at this rate.

Modern Day

Because showers account for more than a third of household indoor water usage, the Environmental Protection Agency started giving WaterSense certification to showerheads that use 2.0 gpm or less. Some of the new low flow heads are rated at even lower flow rates, such as 1.8 or 1.5 gpm, saving significantly more water. “To compensate for the lower rate of water, manufactures started making the holes in the shower head smaller to create a constricted spray, but this means there are bigger gaps between the water jets and that doesn’t always provide the greatest shower experience,” said Sheck bringing us up to present day in his stroll down showerhead memory lane and back to the question of “are water saving showerheads any good?”

Stay Tuned…

I know, I know, you’re asking, “That’s it – we’re all just stuck taking an unsatisfying shower if we want to conserve water?” No! Next time, Greg and Brandon will share their secret knowledge of excellent showerheads, water saving, and beyond!

grout

Cleaning Between the Lines

There’s nothing worse than the kids confusing your dingy bathroom grout lines for Halloween décor this time of year. Yuck. No matter what color your grout is, use these handy tips from the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating to keep tile looking fresh and yucky free.

All you need is water, vinegar, and baking soda

“Sometimes customers go a bit over board trying to clean grout that’s still in good shape and doesn’t need to be replaced,” said Greg Sheck, Grand Master Plumber and bathroom remodeler extraordinaire from G&C. Greg tells customers that all they really need is some water, vinegar, and baking soda. “It’s better than using harsh chemicals because, in most cases, your bathroom is enclosed and harmful chemicals can become trapped in the tub and or shower area no many how many windows you have open or how powerful your fan is.”

Greg’s solution is better for your health…

“If you have an old spray bottle, mix one-part white vinegar to three parts warm water. If you don’t have a spray bottle, a bucket and sponge will do just fine with this solution,” said Greg. Spray or wipe the vinegar solution all over the grout and tile in the area you want to clean and let the mixture sit for a few minutes.

Greg’s Secret Weapon…

To make even the dingiest grout sparkle, mix up a thick paste of baking soda and water in a bowl and get a couple of cheap (or old) tooth brushes. Greg likes to use the electric kind with replaceable batteries for extra elbow grease. “Dip your toothbrushes in the paste and bang out those grout lines,” says Greg who swears this will even brighten caulk lines that are smooth and free from cracks. Once you’re satisfied with your scrubbing efforts, rinse the whole thing off with clean water and marvel in your handy work. Your lungs and grout will thank you and no one will mistake your bathroom for a room in a haunted house.

Happy Halloween

The guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating are full of handy tricks like cleaning grout and checking for toilet leaks. They believe that sharing their knowledge of plumbing and bathroom remodeling helps their customers feel empowered and comfortable, which makes the guys feel pretty darn good in return. If you are looking for some straight-up good guys to help you with plumbing or bathroom remodeling issues, give Greg and Brandon at G&C Plumbing and Heating a call. They’re here to help!