Tag Archives: bathroom

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!

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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.

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Bathroom Renovation 101- Flooring

Grand Master Greg from G&C Plumbing and Heating was put on the case last week to talk flooring. Specifically, what floors work best in bathroom renovations. The people want to know – what are the advantages and disadvantages of the different kinds of ‘tile’ you can put in your bathroom.

“Well, the list is really endless when you are thinking about style, price, and functionality. But, it’s a bit like a Rubix Cube to find the best fit for each bathroom, so let’s take a look at the best options,” said the Grand Master.

Vinyl Tiles
“Inexpensive and easy to install, vinyl tiles have come a long way since you stood on them in your grandma’s kitchen,” said Greg. The material is popular because of its safety, comfort and durability. And, you can’t beat the price starting at $.95 per square foot!

The only negative Greg can think of, “That feeling that you installed something that is made to look like something else.”

Which is…

Ceramic Tile
“There are so many types of ceramic tile with different shapes, sizes, and textures, you can really do pretty much anything. And by selecting a tinted grout you can get even more creative” said Greg. Prices start at around $1.09 per square foot.

Like vinyl, ceramic tile is waterproof and durable but feels more solid. “It can feel colder than vinyl, but a nice radiant floor can solve that,” said Greg.

There are no notable downsides to ceramic tile, according to Greg, unless you pick out a slippery one, but the grout can act as a non-skid surface.

Stone Tiles
“Limestone, marble, granite and slate, and stone tiles are available in colors that range from creams to blues, reds, greens and golds and textures just as numerous including cleft, tumbled, sandblasted, etched and flamed variations – if you can afford it, stone tiles look amazing,” said Greg. Stone floors are by far the most expensive.

“They are also a bit needy,” said Greg and require more maintenance than ceramic tile with regular cleaning and sealing.

Downsides in addition to the price – Stone is cold and tends to be slippery. This can be solved by having the stone textured by sandblasting or buy purchasing naturally textured stone, such as slate.

Now here are a few you wouldn’t normally consider.

Wood Floor Tiles
Not for the faint of heart, or those willing to let kids have a big tub in the bath. “Once water penetrates the finish, it will stain—for good,” said Greg who recommends the wood parquet tiles be carefully sealed around the room perimeter and at all other joints with at least two coats of polyurethane.

“This is not for your family bathroom, but maybe a super awesome powder room,” said Greg.

Linoleum Floor Tiles
“Retro is in,” said Greg, and linoleum is made of linseed oil, cork powder, wood flour, ground limestone and pigments giving it the power to naturally inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. Average cost per square foot: $4.

“Installation is simple with click-in-place plank designs and it looks great but is sure is pricy” said Greg.

Cork Tiles
“Finished cork tiles are great,” said Greg. They’re warm and feel nice on your feet. They also come is a variety of colors. Average cost: $2 per square foot.

“If you purchase unfinished tiles, expect to protect them with two coats of polyurethane,” said Greg as a possible downside.

Glass Tiles
“This is about as big of a statement as you can make,” said Greg. Installed right, a glass floor will hold up well and can resist slips if textured or installed with lots of grout joints. Prices vary all over the place here.

Enjoy floor shopping. Next we’ll close out our Bathroom 101 series with thoughts on timing (specifically how long it takes to remodel and why) and efficiencies you should expect to find with your new bathroom.

Happy remodeling!

modern house, interior, bathroom view

Bathroom 101 – Plain Jane or Fancy John

Welcome back to G&C Plumbing and Heating’s crazy amazing blog series about remodeling your bathroom. Greg and Brandon Sheck can build you a new John that will rock your world – and save you money. Believe it!

Last time you had to think long and hard about what function your bathroom should serve and what upgrades you’d like to include. You considered what kind of bathroom you were fixing up.

You never knew there was more than one kind of John did you?  Masters, family, half, three-quarter, and more – it can make your head spin. But, yours is on tight thanks to the guys at G&C.

Now, it’s time to focus on the type of bathroom you are remodeling, and with your budget in mind (If you need to revisit that blog post before we move on, go ahead) break the range of bathroom remodels down from small scale to big time to give you a better picture of where yours will fit in.

Always keep in mind

No matter how big your budget or which type of bathroom you are planning to remodel your end goal should be to:

  • Update the look
  • Increase resale value
  • Add to your contentment
  • Add functionality, amenities and storage

As with many things – pizza, vacations, jobs – there are basically three levels of bathroom remodeling: good, better and best.

We are going to explore each of these options, but obviously, even if you go with the “good” option, G&C will always give you the best service. You just won’t be paying for all the fancy stuff you would be if you’re going with the “best option.

So, here are the basic cost ranges for good, better and best bathroom remodels with the best service:

  1. The Good John Update. This can run between $5,000 to $14,000 and typically includes a 24-48 inch vanity, low-end granite countertop, and maybe a fiberglass bathtub-shower unit.

    With this option, you probably won’t be moving plumbing around. You’re looking to replace fixtures and other materials with the stuff you priced out at Lowes or the store Greg recommended  you  go to. “You can still get a big impact from a cool backsplash to make things look high-end,” said Greg.

    Other upgrades include new ceramic or subway tile in a bathtub or shower area. Of course this would include a fresh paint job on all the wall space not tiled. Maybe even some trendy wallpaper. “If your cabinets are in good condition, we can do some awesome stuff with them,” said Brandon. Otherwise, some new pre-made cabinetry can do the trick.

    Your lighting, fixtures and finishes should be new but you don’t need to break the bank. Have Greg and Brandon help you find quality stuff so you’re not having to replace them every five years. “A basic bathroom remodel is great if you’re looking to sell your home,” said Brandon.

  1. The Better Bathroom Remodel. This will run between 10,000 to $30,000. It’s a big jump because the options get greater and you get better fixtures. “New features like flooring, a vanity, a sink, lighting, window treatments, hardware, a comfort-height toilet, a 36-inch countertop, a framed mirror that matches the vanity, beadboard on the walls, and a recessed medicine chest,” said Brandon with a bit of excitement.

    You’re also able to make adjustments to the layout in the better range – like a slightly smaller bathtub to make way for a slightly larger shower. When it comes to plumbing, there are moderate adjustments you can make in the better remodel category like moving the faucets or shower, but the toilet will need to stay in basically the same spot.

    “For countertops, you’re looking at a high-grade remnant or custom piece of granite, marble or quartz, and cabinets can be semicustom with high-end finishes – maybe glazed instead of just stained or something made locally,” said Brandon. As for fixtures, upgrade when you can to higher-quality ( all brass parts)  because they will last longer. And tile – go porcelain! “A better bathroom remodel is perfect when you’re planning to stay in your home and you’re limited in the space or footprint,” said Greg.

  1. The Fanciest John Evah. If you have over $30,000 to spend on your throne, let’s do this! At this level, you’re really getting the bathroom you want and are putting some money into your home and making it more enjoyable just for you.

    It’s a full gut job, so be prepared to wait for the greatness because everything will go away, and you’ll put things where you want them, including plumbing. Maybe you need to punch into an adjacent room or the exterior for more room. “Maybe you want a full-on sauna!” Brandon has some awesome ideas. For plumbing, let Greg blow your mind with high-end finishes and parts for showers and radiant floor heating.

    For cabinetry, you are looking for solid wood construction with custom finishes and decorative accent pieces. Your tile can be natural marble, limestone or granite. “The walls can be real wood beadboard with deep molding and windowsill are marble. The fixtures can be anywhere from polished chrome with porcelain handles, Brushed Nickel or even Oil Rubbed Bronze.” Brandon is now doing a sketch of the plans…

    Wow.

And that’s it – the good, better, and best of G&C bathroom remodels. By now, you should have a pretty good handle on what materials you plan to use and what your expected outcome is. Next time let’s consider the final step in the process – timing, and when you should do this.

It’s a thing. You’ll see.

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Bathroom 101 – Where to Save and When to Splurge

Welcome back to G&C Plumbing and Heating’s amazing blog series about remodeling your bathroom. Greg and Brandon Sheck know all the tricks to the trade of giving you the bathroom of your dreams at a price you will be proud of.

So, let’s continue.

You had some homework last month to consider how much you wanted to invest in a bathroom remodel and what materials you wanted to use. You also were asked to consider how the budget and material fit into the current value and resale value of your home…

How did it go?

“It’s really handy for customers to have a general understanding of what materials cost so when we discuss their hopes and dreams for their bathroom remodel project there are no surprises,” said Greg.

Greg actually suggests figuring out exactly how you use the bathroom to decide how best to spend your budget on materials. “Mentally walk through your day and decide how you want to use the space versus how the space works for you today,” said Greg.

Where to Save

Some bathrooms play different rolls (pun intended) in your life and home.

“Consider how many times each day you enter the bathroom, what you do there, and why. Now figure out how you want the new space to be different,” said Greg, not meaning to get too personal. Some examples:

A master bath is often considered the second most important space in the house, next to the kitchen. This is your biggest hope of attaining the dream of enjoying a soak in a tub and reading a magazine in peace. Go Big.

The full bath, or family bathroom, is generally a space for everyone where function trumps fashion. “If your toddler is impressed with a vessel sink and granite countertop, that’s impressive, but probably not necessary,” Greg says. Go Cheap.

A three-quarter bath includes a toilet, sink and shower. These spaces are generally not a place people enjoy hanging out. They are about utility. Go Cheap.

The powder room or half bath is a tiny spot that can pack a serious design punch. Here is a fancy opportunity for when you have guests over and want to make a big impression and show off a bit of your style. Go Big!

Then the questions get even more personal from here to further pinpoint how to use your budget…

How many people do you want to be able to soak in the tub at one time? Do you shower alone? How many sinks do you need to accommodate a frantic morning? Do you want a more private space for the toilet? How is the ventilation working in a high traffic bathroom? How old are you, and are you planning to stay in your current home when you are older?

“Looking at the big picture of what kind of bathroom you want to remodel and the needs it should serve in the future really helps solidify not only a budget, but customer satisfaction,” said Greg.

When to Splurge

In any of the bathrooms above, there is room for extravagance. If you are looking for a bit of that, consider some of the following as upgrades for yourself and home value. They are not necessarily super expensive, just upgrades:

  • Radiant flooring. Imagine getting out of that tub.
  • Stain-resistant grout. Think of the kids (and possibly pets) bathing in the tub night after night.
  • Great way to get some light into a small three-quarter bath.
  • Heated shower mirror. Extravagant and practical
  • Framed mirrors. They just look awesome.

So, now you have more homework in deciding what function your bathroom should serve and what upgrades you’d like to include. Next time we will break the range of bathroom remodels down from big time to small scale. This way you will know all the ins and outs for when Greg and Brandon come in and rip your old john out.

 

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Bathroom Remodels – We Do That.

There is nothing more fascinating to a master plumber like Greg Sheck than coming across antique relics in bathrooms, covered floor to ceiling, with pink tile…

Sure, Greg and Brandon of G&C Plumbing and heating can come by and fix your leaky, robin’s egg blue sink.

Ok, they can come back and reseal your pink toilet.

No problem, they’ll be back over to stop the water from leaking through the bright yellow tile in your tub.

And on, and on, and on…

BUT, what if you could have Greg and Brandon come, once and for all, rip all that “nostalgia” out, and update your bathroom to a century where they actually still manufacture the parts that make up your sink, tub, and toilet?

YOU CAN!!

That’s right, 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.

One of the biggest advantages to having your bathroom professionally remodeled by G&C Plumbing and Heating is the result. They just do it better, and that can substantially increase the value of your home and its energy efficiency.

True, having the guys come in might be a little more expensive than you slaving away for six to eight months with a how to book from Home Depot, but the overall costs of remodeling will depend on how much work you want done and the type of fixtures you choose as replacements.

  • The guys understand what works in a bathroom – From selecting and installing proper title 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 because that’s what they specialize in.
  • The guys think about function when designing a bathroom – Custom shower doors that prevent water from escaping. Installing a handrail in a shower to prevent injury. Installing outlets that shut off if an electrical item falls into water.
  • 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!

So, 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 look through your water closet antiques and more than happy to make honest and helpful suggestions on how to bring your John into this century.

Interesting antiquity tidbit – the term “John,” when used to reference the toilet, comes from Sir John Harrington. One of Queen Elizabeth’s 102 god-children, Harrington is credited with devising Britain’s first flushing toilet.

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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!