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!

 

Halloween

Decorating for Halloween? Don’t Forget the Outside Faucets.

Really! Make the most out of Halloween décor and toss in these outdoor plumbing tweaks recommended by the great guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating. You’ll feel good about yourself!

Even though it’s been unusually warm out this fall, we all know that eventually the temps will drop – probably overnight when we all left the windows open. “No matter the weather, we always recommend customers turn off their outside faucets or sillcocks in October so it’s done and out of the way for when we’re hit with the cold,” said Brandon Sheck, Plumber Extraordinaire and all around good guy. “It’s very important to disconnect hoses as water will become trapped in the line and cause the outside faucet to freeze and split when it’s cold out,” said Brandon who didn’t go into the sort of mess this could make, but use your best Halloween inspired imagination. Yikes!

Good news is, winterizing outside faucets is as easy as hanging those annoying spider web decorations on your front bushes. Maybe easier!

  • 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 to “bleed the pipe out” – 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!

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 this Halloween season!  If you need any help, or would rather stick to the spider web hanging, call G&C and the guys will take care of your outdoor faucets and all of your plumbing needs.

 

gandc

G&C Plumbing and Heating’s Quality First Policy

When it comes to selecting the necessary parts for your bathroom remodel or plumbing project, there are plenty of expensive things and cheap things; fancy things and plain things; crazy things and boring things to choose from. Whatever your preference, there’s one question you should always ask yourself… “Is this a quality thing?” But, how can ever you really know – for sure? If you’re working with Greg and Brandon Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating, you can rest assured that the answer is always yes.

Imagine

You’ve started your highly-anticipated bathroom remodel, and there you are walking through the aisles of your favorite big box store when you spot it – the sink and vanity of your dreams and it’s a STEAL! Done! You’re buying it. It’s perfect. You get it home, install it, and three months later it crumbles to the ground. Only then do you look it up on line and find several hundred fellow humans sharing the same soul crushing experience in the product review section that you Just. Can’t. Stop Reading.

Rewind…

Or, maybe, you’ve started your highly-anticipated bathroom remodel, and there you are tip-toeing through the aisles of some totally swanky, European style store in the remote corner of the most expensive town you’ve ever stepped foot in and you spot it – the sink and vanity of your dreams and it COSTS MORE THAN YOUR CAR. But, it’s your dream bathroom so you splurge. Done, you’ll die happy brushing your teeth, by golly. You get it home, install it, and three months later…

You see where we’re going with this, right?

“There are a lot of “luxury items” out there that are only luxurious because of the price tag or a brand name sticker but, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re excellent products. And, there are a lot of “affordable items” that are just not worth the cardboard box you bring them home in,” said Greg Sheck, Grand Master Plumber and bathroom remodeling extraordinaire.

Greg and Brandon have been plumbing and remodeling bathrooms for a long time. They are experts in identifying and recommending the highest quality products for their customers so you don’t have to spend years pouring over product reviews online. (And, let’s be honest, the reviews never really help because there’s always that one review that’s soooo good it makes it seem like, maybe, everyone else is either seriously overreacting, or probably didn’t install the product correctly.)

“It really doesn’t matter what your budget is, we can give you a specialized list of pretty much anything – tile, faucets, shower enclosures, toilets, and even paint. Working with these products gives us the hands-on experience of determining which are worth your money, and which simply are not,” said Greg as he installed a custom-built glass shower from a local Franklin company – he knows the owner, of course.Angie's List Super Service Award

Greg and Brandon have relationships with all of the quality businesses in the area. The guys understand it’s their name on the work they do for you and will only ever recommend and use the best products available. This is probably why G&C has been awarded the Angie’s Super Service Award for two years in a row. They do quality work and know quality products – that’s the G&C Quality First policy.

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Call the guys today if you have questions about the sink and vanity of your dreams that you’ve been eyeing!

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Now, THAT is a Crazy Place to Put a Bathroom

The guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating are known for their creativity and use of unusual space to add another bathroom to your older New England home (closets seem to be their specialty) But, we went on a little mission to see just how creative people can get when they have their mind set on installing a bathroom somewhere. We’ve found some places that a closet just can’t touch. Enjoy!

Space

spaceLocated on the International Space Station (ISS), this john has no gravity to ensure that water stays in the toilet bowl or to force waste down. To compensate, NASA built pumps to harness airflow and create a hygienic bathroom for astronauts. “I would love to get in on this remodel,” said Brandon Sheck, G&C plumber and bathroom remodeling extraordinaire.

“Instead of water and gravity, the entire system relies on air to create a tight seal between the user and the toilet bowl. It’s genius,” said Grand Master Plumber Greg Sheck. The addition of foot straps and pivoting bars are not just for appearances, they anchor the astronauts to the ground.

Did you know the ISS treats waste on its own and converts a large percentage into potable water? Yup – they drink what they make.

Aquariums

aqua

Ever noticed how just looking at the big tanks of water at aquariums make you have to, you know, go? Well, a café in Japan decided to take this problem seriously.

They spent $270,000 to build this ladies-only, except for the giant sea turtle swimming around, john enclosed by an aquarium on three sides. Apparently, the surrounding aquarium was designed to imitate the feeling of getting naked in the ocean. And you thought your bathroom design was creative…

 The South Pole

pole

Located in Antarctica, about 300 yards from the geographic south pole, this john actually moves about three feet closer to pole every year. It’s a literal john on the go.

What makes it super interesting is thinking about how many people risked their lives just trying to make it to the South Pole – Those who made it deserved a bathroom, don’t you think? The small John took years to construct and was the only source of waste plumbing on the South Pole from 1975 until 2008. It has since been remodeled, sorry Brandon…

In Broad Daylight

clear

In Basel, Switzerland, you can enjoy a nice sit-down on the street corner and people watch. YIKES!

Designed by artist Monica Bonvicini, who enjoys delving into public versus private life in her exhibitions. This piece is entitled “Don’t Miss a Sec,” and was inspired by her viewers’ reluctance to use the bathroom during art shows, fearing they might miss out on something important.

Some might say it has one flaw…

For the outside to look like a mirror, it must be very bright so that the mirror’s surface has plenty to reflect. The inside must be kept dark so that light can’t pass through the glass. If the placement of light is switched, however, the walls become windows and your business becomes everyone’s business.

Our Point Is

The next time the little voice in your head (or an actual person who needs to learn to keep their mouth shut) tells you, “That’s a crazy place to put a bathroom” when all you’re trying to do is add a little quality of life to your antique New England home, you can say, “No, that’s not crazy, here’s crazy!”

Give Greg and Brandon at G&C Plumbing and Heating a call to discuss your “crazy” bathroom i

closet

That’s a Crazy Place to Put a Bathroom

“Why don’t we turn the closet into a bathroom?” Jane* nudged her snoring husband in the second-floor master bedroom of their hundred plus year-old farm house as the Eureka moment struck her. “YES!” She nudged him harder and he rolled out of bed, assuming it was his turn to feed the baby. “What?” John* asked, scratching his head and realizing the baby was sound asleep. “Turn the closet into a bathroom,” Jane pointed to the closet nestled close to the dormer framing and abutting their daughter’s room.  Her face lit up as she imagined not walking downstairs, multiple times, during the night to relieve herself. John looked over at the closet. There wasn’t even a gable there. “That’s a crazy place to put a bathroom.”

Fast-forward a few months…

“Well, that should do it,” said Greg Sheck, Master Plumber and Miracle Worker from G&C Plumbing and Heating, as he brushed the last of the construction dust off Jane’s dream bathroom tile– built where her small closet once stood. Jane smiled as she admired the full shower, sink, toilet and snazzy design. John stood slack jawed. The baby squealed.

*This is a true story, with real customers whose names have been changed to protect their innocence and marriage.

“Older New England homes are so awesome, but they often lack amenities that homeowners look for today, namely more bathrooms,” said Sheck who works with his son Brandon to help customers find creative and unique ways to bring their gorgeous old homes into the 21st century without destroying their timeless charm.

“Jane and John have an amazing antique home, but it only had one bathroom. A hundred years ago, even having one bathroom was considered upscale,” said Sheck. “Brandon and I are plumbers and contractors, not everyone knows that, and we enjoy helping people like Jane and John upgrade their antique homes to meet their needs. Sometimes that requires creativity and some “that’s a crazy place to put a bathroom” like thinking,” laughed Sheck.

The guys at G&C Plumbing have installed small and large bathrooms in many older homes, and new. Jane and John’s bathroom was a favorite project of theirs because it showcased their appreciation of the old world and their flair for trendy design.

“Because we didn’t disrupt the floor plan, the second floor maintains that antique feel. The bedrooms are close to one another and there is a common hallway area that is so representative of an old farm house,” said Sheck. “Around the corner in the master is this bathroom that packs a big punch in a pretty small space, but from out in the hallway you’d never know it was there.”

Greg and Brandon helped Jane pick out light and reflective tile and fixtures to make the space seem and feel bigger than it is. – It’s the size of a closet, remember!  Also, there are no windows because everyone agreed they didn’t want to add a dormer and disrupt the exterior design, so lighting was key in creating the feeling of natural light. “My biggest fear was that I was going to feel like I was, well, standing in a closet,” said Jane. “I don’t.”

If you are looking to add a bathroom or remodel an existing bathroom in your home, but find yourself thinking it’s a crazy idea, call Greg and Brandon and watch the crazy magic happen!

under-the-sink

S -Traps, P-Traps, J-Traps – Oh MY!

“Little Lady, the problem is you have an outdated S-trap. That’s illegal is some states, ya know, so I’m going to have to rip that out and install a P-Trap. It’s probably going to cost you.”

Don’t be fooled by the fancy alphabetical references, sink traps are everywhere, keeping sewer gasses from coming up through your drain. It’s true that some traps work better than others because of their shape, but most are a simple fix for a licensed plumber.

In our final blog about sink traps (because who knew there was so much to say about them) Brandon and Greg Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating want you to be in the know when interviewing a plumber for a job, however small. So, here is the rest of everything you need to know about sink traps…

The S-Trap

Invented by Alexander Cummings in 1775, the S-Trap was crucial in the success of indoor domestic plumbing. This simple S-shaped piece of plumbing solved the problem of sewer gasses traveling back up drains and into homes by providing an internal trap. Problem was, the S-shape tended to get clogged, required an overflow, and could easily siphon dry even when well-vented. So, introducing the…

U-Trap, Turned P-Trap, Turned J-Trap

Originally coined the U-Trap by Thomas Crapper in 1880, (No, we are not making that name up) Mr. Crapper (Yes, we will use that as often as we can) found the U-shape of the drain trap to be more efficient in maintaining a water seal to prevent the escape of sewage gasses into a building. Crapper’s new U-bend also didn’t clog, so, unlike the S-bend, it did not need an overflow. The most common of these traps is referred to as a P-trap or a J-Trap because of the later addition of a 90-degree fitting on the outlet side of the U-bend that created a P or J shape – depending on which way you’re looking at it. These are the shapes of a trap most often installed under a sink. Thanks Mr. Crapper!

Sheck Tip For Turning an S-Trap into a P-Trap

“In older homes with original plumbing (AKA New England Homes) it’s not unlikely to run into an S-Trap. We can easily convert it into a P-trap by adding a four or five-inch horizontal length of pipe on the outflow side pipe and connecting a vent. Venting is the trickiest part of this conversion, but we’ve got your back.” – Grand Master Plumber Greg Sheck who means “tricky” for the average Joe, which he is not.

As Shakespeare’s Plumber liked to say…

A drain trap by any other name, is still a drain trap.

S-Trap, U-Trap, J-Trap, or P, it’s keeping the sewage gasses out of your home or business, but don’t let someone fool you into thinking one letter is any more difficult to fix or install than the other!

 

sink

Drain Catchers – Your Drain Trap’s BFF

Last time, the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating educated us about the Drain Trap – that funky U-shaped piece of plumbing that you’ll find under any drain to help keep sewage gasses from entering your home. Yuck. However gross, we all agree they’re pretty important, and keeping them clear of debris is a good way to help them work properly. So, Brandon is offering up his favorite drain catchers for your sink, tub and shower to help keep the bad stuff out of the goodness of your handy dandy drain trap.

“A simple mesh or rubber drain catcher can stop a bunch or crazy stuff from going down your drain,” said Brandon Sheck, plumber extraordinaire. “It not hard to remove items like rings and earrings, or hair and fur that slip down the drain and settle in the trap under your sink, but an inexpensive catcher can stop much of that from going down in the first place.”

Large plumbing fixtures such as showers and tub drains have traps that are not as easy to see as those under a sink because they are under floor level or behind walls. Tubs and showers have traps that are harder to get to and either require crawling under the house or cutting a hole behind the tub or shower and digging out the area where the trap is located.

So, to prevent the cutting, crawling, digging, and taking apart, nonsense, just grab one or Brandon’s favorite catchers for all of your drain traps instead:

  • “Silicone products are my favorite,” said Brandon. “They are easy to clean and last the longest.” The OXO GOOD GRIPS SILICONE DRAIN PROTECTOR stays in place to catch hair and other junk, but it doesn’t disrupt the flow of water. “It is also made from durable stainless-steel and forms a firm grip during installation so it won’t break its seal when a tub or sink is full.
  • “For people who don’t like the look of drain catchers, or the junk on top of them, something like the DANCO, INC. HAIR CATCHER is a great idea because the catcher is under the chrome finished top making it look like a regular drain,” said Brandon. “Just remember to empty it every now and then!”
  • For older tubs or sinks with stoppers, the EXCELITY DRAIN PROTECTOR HAIR CATCHER is a great idea. “This catcher remains odorless and is handy for hair dresser sinks or pet grooming that utilize different chemicals and scents,” said Brandon.
  • And Finally, for the little scientist within us who likes to see gross stuff, Brandon recommends the DRAINWIG BATHTUB DRAIN HAIR CATCHER. “It fits most drains and you only have to clean it every four months, but when you do, you can see all the debris that went down your drain,” said Brandon. Gross. “It won’t do as well at catching jewelry, but it’s perfect for keeping tub drain traps clear and this company also makes one for the shower.”

Next time, Brandon and Greg will go into more detail about the different kinds, shapes, and sizes of drain traps. “It’s handy to know the difference, especially if you’re working with a plumber who might be trying to pull a fast one on you,” said Brandon. “There is no reason to pay someone extra to pull an engagement ring out of your bathroom drain trap just because they used a fancy name for it.” Knowledge is power!

drain-trap

The Drain Trap – Yogi Guru of Your Plumbing

Under the bathroom sink, the kitchen sink, utility sink, and even under drains you can’t see – the piping that connects them is most likely configured in an S or U shape called a “trap”. But, many wonder, what’s with the weird shape?

The guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating are artists in the department of shaping and caring for these little creatures that often makes it impossible to place trash bins and stuff you want instant access to under your sinks, and they hold them in very high regard. Turns out traps deserve a little space…

“When water comes into a home, it needs a way to leave,” said Grand Master Plumber, Greg Sheck. “Most homes have a main water line that usually comes in around the foundation and carries water to a water heater and then to hot and cold-water lines that run throughout the house. That is how water gets to you home. How it leaves is a different story because each fixture has its own drain line and each of the drain lines ties into a larger main line, which takes the water out of the house.”

Turns out, that little U or S shaped part under each drain is like a little Yogi guru who maintains a sense of calm over a whole slew of stuff. “They’re called traps because that’s what they do: Trap water inside, preventing sewer gases from coming back into the house,” said Sheck. – Like your yoga teacher who always seems to be trapped in some intense frustration with all that crazy breathing and pretzel positioning.

How are these little Yogis/traps configured and what calm do they keep?

“There are several connections in a trap,” said Sheck of his artistry. “A nut connects two pieces together with a threaded fitting and a ferrule forms the seal. The nut screws down over the ferrule to form a water tight seal.” – Whatever you say Maestro.

“If you encounter a strange odor in any room where there is a drain, your trap is probably dry and the sewer gas is escaping into your home,” said Sheck who swears this is usually a quick fix that can be remedied by running water down the drain and filling the trap back up with water.

If the smell continues, it might warrant a call to G&C because sewer gas is hydrogen sulfide created as organic waste decays, and although the smell is mostly an annoyance, it’s disgusting and no one will want to come to your house if it smells like you know what fumes. Not even you.

Sheck Tip for Drain Trap Maintenance

To keep the stink away, drains should be used at least once every couple of weeks to keep water in the traps. This includes showers, toilets, tubs, bathroom sinks, kitchen sinks, washing machine drains, floor drains, and any thing you can think of where water passes out of your house.  

“Keeping the traps free from clogs is also helpful,” said Brandon our other experienced G&C plumbing artist. “Any objects that go down a drain can get stuck in the dip of the trap, which is handy if you drop an engagement ring down the sink, but gross if a bunch of hair and nail clippings clog the system.”

Using a sink trap, a simple plastic or metal cap placed over your drain, can be handy at catching all the important and not so important stuff that could wind up in a trap that is already working so hard to keep the peace with life’s crap – literally. Which is why next time on Plumbers Without Cracks, Brandon will give us his top ten sink traps to help keep the Zen flowing in your drainage system!

Until next time, Namaste.

replacement

Do You Need a Piping Replacement?

Yes, it’s a real thing. See, unless you just built your home or it’s only a few years old, there’s a chance that your plumbing is outdated. Over time, pipes suffer from the elements, resulting in corrosion, rust, and sometimes Hollywood blockbuster type disrepair and despair.

Gulp

Not to fear, Greg and Brandon of G&C Plumbing and Heating are here and have devised a simple check list to help you catch a pipe problem before raw sewage is flowing under your house or into your basement. Thanks guys!

Water Discoloration

Unless you just got a call from your Town Hall that someone is flushing the water line, this is not a good sign. “Brown or dark water is the result of corrosion in your pipes, leaving rust as the water runs through,” said Greg Sheck, Grand Master Plumber who really doesn’t want you drinking brown water. “What’s worse, if left untreated, mineral deposits can clog pipes, which builds pressure, and if pipes are under continual pressure, the pipes can eventually burst.” Don’t let that happen, ok?

Pipe Material and Condition

Homes out here in New England are typically made with multiple different plumbing system materials. Most modern systems use brass, copper, or PVC (polyvinyl chloride) pipes. “Older buildings used cast iron, lead, and galvanized steel and some of those are not good,” said Greg. “Lead is highly toxic and, if consumed, can ultimately put a person in the hospital. There are tests to reveal how much lead is in each pipe, but I suggest getting rid of them as soon as possible no matter what the level is.”

Sheck Tip: Each piping material has a different life span: Brass, cast iron, and galvanized steel can have a life span of 80 to 100 years, copper lasts about 80 years, and PVC piping only survives for around 40 years.

If your house is over 60 years old, there’s a chance you might have some exposed pipes that you can check out the condition of. “If you can see the piping running through your basement, check that for discoloration, flaking, dimpling, moisture, bumps, and anything else that looks off. This can give you an idea of what the rest of your piping looks like and if you need to replace it,” said Greg.

Low Water Pressure

It can be hard to tell why you might experience low water pressure. Some it’s from a simple clog, but the issue can quickly escalate to leaks. Leaky pipes can damage your foundation and framing, causing wood rot, ugly ceiling stains and mold (Check out our ugly ceiling stains blog for more info on that nightmare)

Tell Us Your Results

Based on the check list above, is it time to replace and upgrade your piping or are you good for a few more years? If you’re still not sure, give the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating a call – they’ll give you an honest and straightforward answer that is soooooo not Hollywood block buster material, but super helpful all the same.