Category Archives: Tip and Tricks

Spring-Cleaning

Plumbing “Spring Cleaning”

The guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating know that everyone gets excited to spruce up their home in the spring. Windows get cleaned, gutters, and even the garage tends to get a little lift when the sun finally peeks out. But, did you know that your home’s pipe and draining system can also get extra sparkly with a little spring love?

Spring Plumbing Tips

OK, it might not be “sparkly” in the sense that you will stand back and smile with a satisfying sigh at how your piping and drainage system enhances the ascetics of a spring-time BBQ. But, giving your home plumbing a little spring love will protect you against potential plumbing problems this season – And that prevention WILL add to your spring BBQ enjoyment. We Promise!

So, Brandon and Greg suggest you…

  1. Check all indoor faucets for drips or leaks.
  2. Check toilets for leaks by tossing in some food coloring in the tank. (Read our blog for a full leaky John description)
  3. Exercise water supply valves under sinks and toilets to prevent them from sticking.
  4. Check the temperature setting on the water heater. It should not be higher than 120°F to prevent scalding and reduce energy use.
  5. Pour a gallon of water into infrequently used drains to fill the trap and prevent odors.
  6. Snake (or call the guys to do it) slow floor drains to ensure they will carry away water quickly in the event of flooding.
  7. Check exposed pipes under sinks and in the basement for signs of leaks.
  8. If your home has a sump pump, pour a few buckets of water into the sump pit. The pump should quickly turn on, discharge the water then shut off. (If it doesn’t, call the guys)
  9. Check outdoor faucets and hose bibs to make sure water flows freely. If you notice an outdoor faucet dripping or if water leaks inside your home when you turn the hose on, you may have had a frozen pipe that cracked and needs to be replaced ASAP!

All Clear

Now that you’ve taken care of the behind the scenes plumbing spring cleaning, go forth and enjoy all of that satisfying tidying and planting that will make this spring and summer one to remember! However, if you find you need some help with your plumbing after completing this checklist, please don’t hesitate to contact Greg and Brandon at G&C Plumbing and Heating.

fish

Save Some Water for the Fish

In honor of Earth Day, the guys from G&C Plumbing and Heating would like to share some handy plumbing tips on how to save the world (and, inadvertently, cash and Karma) It might even make you feel good to know you’re doing something helpful for the earth – You’re welcome.

“Save some water for the fish,” my mom always yelled at the bathroom door when I was a kid,” said Greg Sheck, the Grand Master Plumber from G&C Plumbing and Heating in Franklin, MA. “Alright, alright, mom,” I’d yell, wondering how my three-minute shower was going to somehow, single handedly, keep the fishing industry alive. That’s a kid for you. I’m just glad I can now proactively help my mother’s ’cause’ on a much grander scale as a plumber. This one’s for you, mom.

Drip… Drip…Drip…

Aside from the annoying sight and sound, a dripping faucet can waste more than 10 gallons of water per day – That’s like $100 every year around these parts. “First and foremost, make sure your taps are fully turned off,” said Sheck who spent a bunch of time yelling at his own kids over the years to make sure they turned the faucets all the way off. “However, if you find yourself trying to twist a tap very tightly only to find it continues to drip, you should probably replace it immediately.” ($100 a year – cough, cough)

If possible, upgrade your standard faucets with low-flow substitutes, or better yet, an aerator faucet that has a circular screened disk of metal that modifies the overall flow. “Along the same lines, an upgraded low-flow showerhead only consumes 2.5 gallons of water per minute, instead of the standard 4.5 gallons,” said Sheck. So, if we do the math correctly, that would save more than 20,000 gallons of water per year. That’s like a gazillion dollars!

And, good news, most low-flow showerhead models available today have a good, strong shower stream- the guys recommend them all the time in their bathroom remodeling projects.

Unmasking the Leakers

Just like in the White House, leakers often attempt to remain anonymous, and not all water leaks can easily be spotted. (What? – Even Plumbers Without Cracks have a sense of humor)

A good way to determine if you’re home has a hidden leak is to make it a habit to check the water meter before and after a specific period when the water is not in use. If the meter has drastically changed, then there’s a good possibility that there’s a hidden leak somewhere and you should call Gregg and Brandon to come check it out.

The Problem with John

Toilet flushing consumes about 30% of your water bill. That’s a lot of cash to flush down the drain. If you have a standard toilet, you might want to upgrade it to a low-flow or dual flush option. “With a dual flush option, you can choose between a higher-flush for solid waste or lower-flush option for liquid waste. The lower-flush uses less than 1.3 gallons of water,” said Sheck who made that toilet talk sound so professional we couldn’t even make a number two joke or anything – Thanks Greg.

If you’re not ready to replace your toilets just yet, then just make sure they’re not running when not in use. “That can be a sign that the flapper is leaking inside the tank and needs replacing,” said Sheck.

To detect a toilet leaks, remove the lid from the toilet tank and add a dye tablets left over from coloring Easter eggs or a few drops of food coloring to the water in the toilet tank. If the tank is leaking, color will appear in the bowl within 30 minutes. Flush as soon as the test is complete and then call Greg and Brandon.

#Savethefish

broken_toilet

Is It Time to Kick Your Toilet to the Curb?

If your toilet is giving you grief, it might be time to replace it. Sometimes an easy fix can spare you the time and money of installing a new one. However, there are a few problems that, unfortunately, aren’t worth the effort to fix. Here’s a quick list from the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating to know when it’s time to say goodbye to your old John:

He’s Falling Apart

First it’s the handle, then the flapper, and then the fill valve. Sure, these repairs are relatively simple individually, but if you add them all up and find yourself doing one after another, you’re putting yourself into a position to end up spending more time and money on the fixes than if you were to just replace the whole thing.

“My rule of thumb, if you’re planning to replace your toilet in the next few years, then save the money and time and replace the toilet after you’ve tried just one basic repair,” said Grand Master Plumber, Greg Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating.

Clogs (and not the comfy shoe kind)

Many toilets tend to clog as they age, especially some of the first low flush models. Sometimes they simply require more than one flush and sometimes they require a plunger. “No one likes to plunge their toilet and if you’re doing it more than a couple times a month, it’s time to replace,” said Sheck. “Low flush toilets have come a long way and the new line of water savers work much better than anything we’ve ever seen.”

Porcelain Cracks

If you spot a hair line crack in the tank or bowl of your toilet, it’s time to kick it to the curb! “Even small cracks can turn into a flood at the worst possible time or can be the source of an active leak,” said Sheck who suggests inspecting toilets for cracks whenever you clean them. An unnoticed leak can lead to a ruined floor, or worse, over time.

Save the World and Some Cash

Saving water may be reason enough to replace a toilet. You can save quite a bit on your water bill every year with a low flush toilet. “A water saving toilet uses less than two gallons of water per flush which is considerably less than the old three to five gallon flush toilets,” said Sheck. Not only are you helping the environment with a new toilet by saving water, you are helping yourself save money. Just promise us you won’t try to use your old toilet as a planter in the back yard!

Should John Stay or Should He Go?

So, what’s the verdict – is your John staying or going? If he’s going, you’re in luck because next time on Plumbers Without Cracks, we’ll cover how to install a new toilet. If you’re still not sure, or have no desire to install a toilet (like most normal people) feel free to call Greg or Brandon at G&C Plumbing and Heating and they can come over and help you out with your dear ole John.

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BIO-CLEAN is Super Fascinating!

Ok, maybe not as fascinating as the Patriots coming back from a 25-point deficit to pull of the greatest victory in the history of the NFL. But, to a Master Plumber like Greg Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating, it’s certainly as fascinating as the Sports Center broadcast immediately following the Super Bowl! Bottom line – This is noteworthy stuff. Thus, Greg wants to share it with his clients!

“BIO-CLEAN uses enzymes and bacteria to biodegrade and recycle animal and vegetable products the way nature intended it,” said Sheck who has been using BIO-CLEAN for forever in his family plumbing business. “The certain types of bacteria found in BIO-CLEAN use the grease, hair, soap film and organic waste that clogs drains as food!”

Sheck considers BIO-CLEAN to be so helpful in his business that he encourages all of his clients to keep a tub on hand to prevent plumbing emergencies. “Our goal at G&C is to support our clients and empower them to feel confident about their plumbing,” said Sheck.

Wouldn’t that mean clients would be able to fix potential plumbing problems themselves instead of calling Greg and his son? Yes, that is exactly the point! Greg and Brandon are here to help their clients and it’s this approach to business that landed the guys consecutive awards from Angie’s List. (But, more on that next time!)

 

Fascinating Suggested Uses for BIO-CLEAN

SEPTICS

Most septic systems in operation today are not functioning well. The tanks need pumping frequently because of solids build up. All too often the fields stop absorbing water prematurely. The number one reason is the vast array of household chemicals which either inhibit or kill biological action. The coliform bacteria normally present in sewage are in no way equal to present day demands. They are used to warm body temperatures and are poor enzyme producers. They cannot handle synthetic materials present in detergents even under the best conditions.

BIO-CLEAN contains not only potent enzymes, but also contains bacteria that outperform the coliform species in very important ways. They are high producers of enzymes and they are acclimated so that they feed on a larger variety of materials in the waste such as fats and grease, vegetable oil, paper, detergents, fabric softeners, aliphatic and aromatic organic compounds as well as synthetic organics.

Chemicals, bleaches, detergents, food preservatives and bowl cleaners inhibit or kill bacterial action within your system. This lets solids accumulate in the tank, some of which flow out and clog the drain field. BIO-CLEAN will restore the necessary bacterial action and make your system work at full efficiency!

GARBAGE DISPOSAL ODORS

Odors come from waste that sticks to the disposal wall and slowly molds and rots. It is hurled there by the high-speed rotating blades. By following BIO-CLEAN instructions this waste will be quickly digested by the live cultures, thus eliminating the odor.

GREASE TRAPS

Cleaning out a grease trap is the worst of jobs in a food service operation. After the horrible odorous muck is removed it still has to be disposed of. Unfortunately, we are running out of landfills to put it in. BIO-CLEAN will digest the grease, eliminating the unwanted task, as well as the disposal of the pollutant. Of course, the grease trap must be large enough to accomplish two things. The flow of the water through the trap must be first slowed and then cooled, so that the oils and fats can rise and be retained between the baffles while the water continues on down the sewer.

Also, a garbage disposal should never discharge into a grease trap. If these criteria are met, daily treatment of the pot sink will maintain the digestive action. By eliminating the need to pump the trap a significant cost savings results.

SUMPS WITH PUMPS

When ground water accumulates in sumps, odors may be noticeable. This is especially true if household or sanitary waste is present. BIO-CLEAN eliminates the odor by quickly digesting organic material in the waste water. Pumps will require less energy when the rotor, housing and lines are free of build-up. Lower energy costs and longer pump life are added bonuses for using BIO-CLEAN.

OUTHOUSES AND VAULTS

Mention an outhouse and the first thing that pops to mind is ODOR! BIO-CLEAN turns the waste into water and carbon dioxide very quickly. This dramatically reduces odor and flies. Cleaning and disposal of the pit become easier and it is more pleasant for the user, too.

R.V. & BOAT HOLDING TANKS

As the waste water level increases in the tank some scum adheres to the sides and sensor. When the tank is drained, more scum is deposited. With continued use, this coating becomes odorous. It is additional weight and reduces tank capacity. There is no large access to the tanks and the build-up is so great that clean-up is difficult and time consuming that replacing the tank is often less expensive!

R.Ver’s using chemicals in their tank are also encountering the new problem of not being able to dispose of their chemically treated waste at many dump stations. Waste water treatment plants do not want this chemical toxicity in their plants, so they charge dump stations large fines.

If BIO-CLEAN is used from the beginning, a tank will drain cleanly, including the sensor, if there is one. Using BIO-CLEAN in a tank previously treated with chemicals will take larger doses and some time to overcome the toxicity. It will, however, remove the old build-up. Waste from tanks treated with BIO-CLEAN is accepted anywhere because it is biologically active.

You Totally Want a Tub, Don’t You?

Awesome, click here to get one! Greg is happy to help avert your possible plumbing disaster!

 

 

rubber-duck

Fresh Caulk – The Bathroom Update for The Bathroom That Doesn’t Need an Update, Yet.

Since Brandon and Greg Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating started offering up free professional tips here on their Plumbers Without Cracks blog, the guys have been flooded with questions when they run into customers at service visits, wholesaler outlets, even at dinner. “I love it,” said Grand Master Plumber, Greg.  “The more our customers know, the more we can actually help them.”

So, it’s no surprise that when Greg was out to dinner with his lovely wife, Christine (Yes, she is the C in G&C – isn’t it romantic?) A customer, who had the guys install a new heating system last year, had this to ask from the next table:

“Hi Greg, I am planning to call you in a few years to remodel our kid’s bathroom, but I think it has some life left in it for now. One problem I am having is with the caulk around the tub, it’s all dingy. Do you think I could handle fixing it myself?”

The customer’s wife looked over her husband’s shoulder and mouthed to Greg, “He doesn’t know how to do it.” So, here is the answer Greg gave to the father of two kids who love to splash in the tub every night:

You can totally do it – Here’s How!

The entire process, from start to dried caulk, should take about four hours, so make sure you pick a time when no one needs to bathe. 5:00 p.m. on a school night is probably not the best time. I suggest a late Sunday morning so you can catch the afternoon game with a sense of accomplishment.

Head out to your local hardware store and get a quality caulk gun – about $20. You’re also going to need a couple tubes of 100% silicone caulk made for bathrooms – It should say something about containing mold and mildew prevention additives. You can get latex caulk, it’s easier to clean up, but latex will not last as long as silicone. You’ll have your choice of white, almond and clear at all hardware stores. You can also order custom colored caulk at some home centers. Tile stores often have a variety of options.

Other things you’ll need from the store or your garage:

  • Razor scraper
  • Single-edge razor blades
  • Caulk remover
  • Mineral spirits
  • Paper towels
  • Utility knife
  • Putty knife
  • Bleach
  • Course sponge or rags
  • Masking tape
  • (An oscillating tool with a flexible scraper blade is very handy, but you can do the job without it)

Step one – Remove the old caulk

Prepping the surface for new caulk is over half the battle for this project. You need to properly clear away the old before the new will work. If not, your caulk job will look horrible no matter how steady your hand is. A Horrible caulk job can mess up the look of an entire bathroom. To get it right:

  1. Slice through the old caulk along the walls with a utility knife (or with that oscillating scraper blade, if you splurged) Then scrape along the tub or shower floor
  2. Scrape off as much caulk as possible
  3. Apply caulk remover to loosen what remains
  4. Scrape the remains off
  5. Remove any loose grout between the walls and the tub or shower floor
  6. If you notice mold under the grout along the wall and tub gap, kill it with bleach
  7. Scrub the grout, rinse off the bleach and let it dry – Use a hair dryer to speed the drying
  8. Clean the surfaces one last time with mineral spirits
  9. Let dry for 10 minutes – Maybe catch some of the pre-game show.

Step two – Mask the gap

Start by finding the largest gap between the tub/shower and the walls. That gap dictates how far apart you must space the two rows of tape.

  1. Mask the wall corner gaps first
  2. Apply tape to the walls above the tub or shower floor
  3. Apply tape to the tub or shower floor

Step three – Apply the caulk bead

  1. Load the caulk tube into the gun and cut the nozzle tip at a blunt 20-degree angle that is the same width as the gap you marked off with your tape – You can actually stick the uncut tip in the gap to see where the cut should be
  2. Hold the gun at a 90-degree angle to the gap and push a bead of caulk slightly ahead of the nozzle as you push the gun forward and continue applying pressure

Step four – Shape the bead

  1. Wet your finger with water and, starting at the outer corner, wipe your finger across the caulk to create a rounded bead
  2. Remove excess caulk from the gap
  3. Clean off your hands
  4. Remove the masking tape while the caulk is still wet
  5. Let the caulk dry (cure) before using the tub or shower – About four hours
  6. Go watch the game!

“Wow, thank you,”

the man said as he ordered a round of desserts for the now table of four. Then, Greg dropped his biggest tidbit of the night…

“When we remodel your bathroom, the showers we use don’t even have caulk and you’ll never have to do this again.”

You could see the mega mind explosions happening at the other end of the table. “No caulk what so ever?” the man’s wife whispered. “None,” Christine beamed.

(More on that next month)

If you have any plumbing or heating questions, feel free to comment on this blog or on Facebook – The guys would love to hear from you!

 

sprinkler

Summer Plumbing Conundrums

Here’s the thing about summer plumbing problems: Most people don’t think they occur. As if all of your plumbing issues conspire to burst, leak and break only in the winter. It’s just not true!

Think about it, all the kids are home and constantly flushing the toilet or running through the sprinkler while you are trying to relax by the pool or lake. Truth is, there is more unattended time for plumbing issues to pop up during the dog days of summer.

Here are a few of the major culprits that Greg and Brandon Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating run into all the time.

Keep An Eye On

Sprinklers & Outdoor Faucets

Ahh, the mighty in ground sprinkler system. Just remember, these lush green lawn Sherpas sit dormant for months resulting in serious wear-and-tear. “You might not notice a sprinkler leak until you receive that high water bill and you’re like – but we weren’t even home last month. To prevent leaks, make sure you thoroughly clean your system each summer,” said Brandon Sheck. Or, just call Greg and Brandon to check the system for you.

Sometimes leaks in your home aren’t discovered until you use an outdoor faucet for the first time. You might want to wash the car or let the kids play in the hose during a hot August day and bam, there you find water pooling under your spigot. “Give all faucets a once over a few times during the summer – sometimes kids just forget to turn them all the way off,” said Brandon. If you’re on vacation reading this and worried you might be establishing the next great lake in your back yard, again, call G&C and the guys can go check it out for you.

Toilets

The kids are out of school and it seems the entire neighborhood spends the summer hydrating at your house – sound familiar? When the toilet is constantly flushing (you hope not toys) your fixtures get more use and can succumb to maintenance issues.

“Now is the time to sit everyone down and give a little talk on limiting toilet paper use and explaining that certain things cannot be flushed,” said Grand Master Plumber and father of two Greg Sheck.

Disposals

Here is a typical summer day: Each kid has 3 bowls of cereal that they pour down the sink, followed by pizzas for lunch and cook outs at night (All also dumped down the drain) Your garbage disposal is working like it’s Christmas Day for two months straight.

“The best way you can avoid clogs and break downs is to limit the use of your disposal and never push down items such as hard fruits, fibrous vegetables, corn cobs or starchy foods that can soak up water in drains and clog pipes,” said Greg who also recommends a good clean out with Bio Clean. This all natural product can help all drains weather the summer months.

Sheck BBQ Tip: During cookouts, have guest avoid your garbage disposal altogether. Set out a designated garbage for fixings and uneaten food that is clearly marked. You can even place a bucket in the sink to collect scraps.

Sewer clogs

“No one ever believes this when we tell them, but tree roots can grow into sewer lines during the spring and summer,” said Brandon who laughed out loud the first time his dad showed him an example of this growing out of a toilet.

If you notice a slow drain, this could be a sign that invasive tree roots might have invited themselves in. Roots like sewer pipes because they’re a great water and nutrient source. Also look for strange areas on your lawn (typically running along your sewer line) where the grass is particularly lush and green. If a tree root has grown into your sewer line and the contents of said line are now leaking out and feeding your lawn this is not a good thing even if the lawn looks it’s best ever.

Roots in the sewer pipe can result in a headache no one wants to have during summer vacation. Call the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating before you head out on your final camping trip of the summer to make sure you don’t come home to any unwanted surprises.

Enjoy summer. Leave plumbing to the pros!

Replace That Old Water Heater

Oh Good, You’re Finally Going to Replace That Old Water Heater.

This is a follow-up to The Plumbers Without Cracks series “This Old Water Heater,” where plumbing experts, Brandon and Greg Sheck, provided tips on how to extend the life and efficiency of your older water heater. Sometimes it’s just not meant to be. In this installment, they answer the question: Is it dead, yet?

Scary Noises
Maybe.

Banging and bumping sounds from your pipes suggest pipes are being subjected to stress they aren’t designed to take. This could lead to leaks in the near future and you should call your plumber right away. – It’s not dead!

Banging sounds from inside your water heater are likely large mineral deposits breaking off and falling to the bottom of the tank. This means your water is too hard and you are wasting money on inefficiency. – It’s not dead!

Bubbling and gurgling however. If you hear these sounds, shut down your water heater immediately. Call a plumber and get out of the room. Bubbling and gurgling suggest the water inside your heater is boiling. Instead of being an innocent heater, it’s now a pressure cooker ready to explode. Get rid of it. – It’s dead!

“It’s Just a Little Leak”

It’s possible.

“Even a little bit of water coming out of the heater is not normal,” says Greg Sheck, a master plumber who knows what he’s talking about. So, if you have been telling yourself that the little water, that has become progressively more water even though you are not willing to see it, is just due to your house “settling”, it’s time to admit you have a problem. Good news is, it’s not necessarily terminal. “You might just have a leaking temperature-pressure valve,” says Sheck. If you get it fixed right away – It’s not dead!

However, if you have hard water, or an ancient water heater, a leak may be a gator-roll-sign that the tank inside your water heater has rotted out and is getting ready to fail. When it fails, the 80 or so gallons of sediment rich water is going to come out, all at once, all over your floor. – It’s dead!

What Stinks?
You bet!

“If your water stinks, it’s likely your water heater is to blame,” says 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. – It’s dead!

The final part of “Oh Good, You’re Finally Going to Replace That Old Water Heater,” addresses moving on from the old hunk of junk and buying a replacement. Stay tuned.

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Winterization Tips

We interrupt your regularly scheduled “Oh Good, You’re Going to Replace that Old Water Heater,” to bring you this Halloween Spooktacular:

Re-Occuring Nightmare on Your Street

The sight was unbearably gruesome. Greg and Brandon Sheck, the father and son team from G&C plumbing and Heating, approached the scene cautiously. The melting spring snow was almost indistinguishable from the bulbous mass around the garden hose protruding from the otherwise well manicured home. The plumbers braced themselves.

“NNNNNOOOOOO,” cried the homeowner, falling to his knees at the sight of the water squirting out from behind his new, and freshly painted, cedar shake shingles. Brandon placed his hand on the client’s heaving shoulder, looked at his dad and shook his head. It was hard to witness such neglect. Greg nodded, understanding his son’s dismay. He knew his client hadn’t intended to completely destroy the entire lower level of his home by leaving the garden hose connected and the exterior water on all winter. It was mistake. People get busy. But, such a sight still sent waves of nausea through the master plumber. If only they could go back in time, to October, before the mayhem, and warn everyone of what was coming. Could they stop the destruction from happening again?

Disconnecting hoses and shutting off water to outside faucets are two of the most important things you can do to save yourself from a nightmare on your street! “It’s very important to disconnect hoses as water will be trapped in the line and cause the outside faucet to freeze and split,” said Greg. October is the perfect time to do this, and, good news, it’s easy!

  • Disconnect the hoses – Drain them and hang them up for the winter. Your hoses will last longer, be less likely to leak at the connectors, and be less likely to develop splits that leak when the hose is pressurized.
  • Close the shut-off valves – From inside your home, close the shut-off valve(s) that control the flow of water to the outdoor faucets.
  • Open the faucets – Back outside, let any residual water drain out of the outdoor pipe. Creating an air space within the short segment of pipe gives residual water room to expand if it freezes. If you have a frost-damaged outdoor fixtures – replace them!

We now return your to your regularly scheduled program…..BOO!

This Old Water Heater

If the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating could talk you into updating anything in your house to improve your energy efficiency it would be that old water heater in the corner of your basement. By nature, the traditional hot water heater is like a 1976 Chrysler New Yorker in that it is giant, and in constant need of fuel. It is not, however, impressive or fun.

“Water storage tanks work constantly to keep water hot for when you want it. When the water sits, it cools down, known as standby heat loss, then the burner or heating element kicks on to heat it up again, and again and again and again,” said Greg, master plumber who hates old water heater inefficiencies.

The guys agree that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but water heating is the second largest energy hog in your home – heating and cooling is numero uno. So, until the old unit goes belly up, or you get sick of paying an extra $300 to $400 a year to constantly reheat a tub of water in the corner of your basement, here are a couple of tips to help out:

Turn Her Down
Most water heaters come preset to 140 degrees, but for every 10 degrees you turn the beast down you’ll save 3% to 5% on your bill. “We recommend keeping water heaters at 120 degrees so you don’t burn yourself,” said Brandon who likes a nice hot shower as much as the next guy. Call him and he’ll set the temperature for you. If you’re a Sunday, do-it-yourself kind of guy, or gal, here’s how to get 120 degrees:

  • Find a thermometer to measure the water coming out of the tap farthest away from the heater. Mark the temperature on the water heater thermostat because chances are it will be wrong. (It might even just say low, medium and high)
  • From there, turn down the thermostat to what you think will be 120 degrees and then wait a few hours and measure the water temperature again at the same far-away faucet. This might take a few tries, so if you want to call Brandon now and get back to the game you can. Some old water heaters have two thermostats — one for the bottom heating element and one for the top for twice the fun.

Drain the Junk
Tanks build up sediment which reduces efficiency. Do you have another Sunday? If so:

  • Turn off the water and power to the water heater. On a gas unit, set the burner to “pilot.”
  • Connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank and other end of the hose pointed at your floor drain.
  • Turn on the tank’s spigot.
  • Open a faucet in a bathroom or kitchen (hot side only) to allow air into the system so water will drain from water heater.
  • Don’t drain it completely, less water more often is actually best. A quart every three months.

What? None of the above sounds fun? Ok, stay tuned for the next installment of Plumbers Without Cracks when we discuss: Oh Good, You’re Finally Going to Replace That Old Water Heater. If you just can’t wait two weeks, give Brandon or Greg at call today at 508.541.8783.

gandcplumbing-toilet

Leaky Toilet?

Expert Tips from the Trenches to Stop the Plumbing Emergencies Before it Happens.

Greg and Brandon have acted as first responders to a few home emergencies in their time. Several feet of clogged pipe from food build up and flooded basements from a broken toilet, plumbing isn’t always pretty, but the guys at G&C try their best to keep it from ruining your weekend, holiday, or return from vacation. The father and son team from Franklin, MA suggest the following to avoid serious plumbing problems before they start.

Dear John, it’s not you, it’s me.

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.

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. But, it’s difficult to talk your wife or daughter into brushing their long hair in the garage instead of in the bathroom. And, it’s even more difficult to ask your Italian mother or grandmother to stop cooking with olive oil. 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.

Stay tuned next week for more pre-emptive tips from G&C!