Tag Archives: Franklin MA Plumbers

ceiling-brown

What the Heck is That Ugly Spot on My Ceiling?

When you see it, your heart skips a beat. That yellowish-brown stain on your ceiling – It’s not a good sign, but what exactly does it mean and why is it there? Greg and Brandon from G&C Plumbing and Heating have a few explanations to help keep you out of the emergency room.

The Good News Is, It’s Not Always a Plumbing Problem

“Well, that might not actually be good news either, because it typically means you probably need some repair work done on your roof,” said Greg Sheck, Grand Master Plumber and guy who has inspected about a gazillion ugly ceiling stains over the course of his career.

When stains appear at the ceilings along outside walls at the corners, it’s typically ice dam related. If the insulation in the attic is insufficient and there are attic air leaks, it’s very likely that ice dams caused the leaking. “In these cases, you’re going to have to call a roofer, not a plumber, sorry,” said Greg.

Stains Around the Bathroom Fan

“This is a very common ceiling stain spot and it’s caused by condensation,” said Greg. When a bathroom exhaust fan is connected to an un-insulated or under-insulated duct and doesn’t make an airtight connection to the roof cap, the moisture doesn’t exhaust properly  and condenses like crazy. “The moisture then condenses inside the duct and eventually drains down to the bottom and leaks on the ceiling next to the fan.” Gross ceiling stains ensues.

“The easy fix is to make sure the duct for the bathroom exhaust fan is properly installed and insulated and we can help with that,” said Greg.

Stains Below Bathroom Fixtures

“These make up the majority of ceiling stains that we encounter,” said Greg.  “As soon as you notice a leak, inspect it because consistent leaking will quickly destroy your ceiling and left untreated, you’ll end up with a hole in your ceiling which is even worse than a stain.”

  • Toilets are a big source for the ugly yellow stain which is why Greg and Brandon are always encouraging you to test your John for leaks .
  • Water supply lines that attach to the toilet or to the sink trap are also a big culprit for ceiling stains. The leak may come from water seeping out at the point where the water supply lines join, or maybe the connector joints need tightening. “Feel along the water supply line for dampness to find your problem. If it’s simply a matter of a loose connection, you can try tightening it, but you may have to replace the whole fitting if that doesn’t work,” said Greg who really should just say “call me,” at this point.
  • Drain pipe leaks are those that appear and disappear across your ceiling. If the drainpipe is the culprit, you’ll have to replace the fittings. “Most modern drainpipes are either made with black ABS or white PVC. You’ll need to make sure that you get the right tools needed to replace the fittings, including the specific type of glue and primer needed to reattach PVC or ABS,” said Greg but if you don’t want to end up smashing your bathroom with a hammer out of frustration, just give him a call instead for Pete’s sake.
  • A bad caulk job. Sometimes the problem is not that bad, maybe your kid forgot to bring the shower curtain liner in the tub with him and the caulk around your tub or tile just needs repairing. Phew!

“Check the ceramic tile walls surrounding your tub, shower, and floor. Cracks can develop in the grout between the tiles, allowing moisture to seep through. To stop the leak and prevent further damage you’ll need to seal all the places where water can penetrate,” said Greg. (Hey, we actually did a blog on this already – score!)

So, Breath

Yes, the yellow stain on your ceiling is bad news and yes, you need to fix it – just setting a bucket under the growing stain to wait for the dripping to start is not going to help lower your blood pressure or make the problem go away. If you just can’t bring yourself to look at it, give the guys a call and they can have you fixed up in no time.

fish-scales

Bathroom Design Trends of 2017

Brandon Sheck of G&C Plumbing and Heating loves to keep up on bathroom design trends. He in no way considers himself to be an interior designer or anything close, but he is a guy who has developed a mean sense of style over the years of remolding bathrooms with his Dad, Greg. So, just in time for summer, we forced Brandon to once again offer his take on current design trends that the guys would love to help you implement in a bathroom renovation project.

All About the Tile

“It’s really all about what makes you comfortable and happy, but I think some of the coolest bathrooms have tile that is kinda crazy looking when you first see it,” said Brandon to underscore the point that he’s not an interior designer. What he means by “crazy looking” is stylish, and here are some of the stylish tiles Brandon has found to be successful in creating a whole new look in a renovated bathroom:

Patternedpattern
“There are great bathrooms where the tile floors blend into the background,” said Brandon. “But, in some of the trendier designs lately, we’ve seen a throwback to patterned tile. At first my Dad and I were skeptical, but the right pattern does create an artistic look that totally works in the right room.”

Hexagonhoneycomb
“I’ve heard it referred to as honeycomb,” said Brandon. “It’s a big trend and looks wicked cool with a gray and navy blue color scheme.”

 

 

Long and Narrow Subwaysubway
This is perfect for someone who wants to be trendy, but doesn’t want to commit to something as bold as a pattern. “The long and narrow subway tiles just take the coolness of the subway look a bit further. It makes a bathroom look super sharp,” said Brandon.

 

fish-scaleFish Scale
“The first time my Dad and I saw this, we were sure our client would change her mind as soon as we put it up, but it really looks awesome. We were surprised,” said Brandon. “It doesn’t actually look like fish skin, it has a classic Hollywood look to it.”

Nailing the Accent

After figuring out tile, paint colors and a layout, Brandon says it’s the accents (or where your eye is immediately drawn to) in a bathroom that is all the rage in design for 2017. Here are some of the cool things he and Greg are seeing and including in their remodeling projects:

Free-Standing Tubs
“These are where it’s at,” said Brandon. “Doesn’t matter if it’s a vintage claw-foot or a modern soaking tub, people love the freestanding tub look and they look really great in a larger space.”

Cabinets A la Minimalist
“With bold tile patterns and big tubs in the middle of a bathroom, it’s best to keep things in balance with minimalist cabinet shapes and colors when you want to be trendy,” said Brandon. Clean cabinets with simple knobs and handles keeps the space from feeling crowded.

Free-Standing Vanities
A less expensive option to that ‘free-standing’ tub look is the free-standing vanity. It’s a fun way to incorporate a personal design trend into your bathroom. “People are finding really cool vintage vanities at antique shops and we can build entire bathrooms around them,” said Brandon.

Unusual Light Fixtures
We don’t often think of putting a unique light in the bathroom, but it works in 2017. “When you walk into a space with a bunch of neutral colors and then there’s this unusual light fixture, your eye just goes there and it’s cool. It’s also easy to switch out when you get bored or want to change things up,” said Brandon.

Need More Ideas?

Brandon and Greg are more than happy to come out for a visit and go over ideas you have about your bathroom remodel. They are humble guys and will try to suggest they don’t know much when it comes to style and interior design, but don’t let them fool you. These guys know plenty and have seen and worked on enough projects over the years to know what works and what doesn’t. They will give you honest and sound advice about your creative ideas – That’s how they roll.

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

gandcplumbing-toilet

Replacing John

Last month, the guys gave you some tips on how to tell if it was time to get a new toilet. Our bet is that many of you may have kicked the old throne when you read through the results. Sorry about your toe. The good news is, replacing a toilet is not all that hard, and the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating even offer options on how you can accomplish installation.

Here are their secrets:

“It’s best to have a buddy handy when you are ready to replace a toilet,” said Grand Master Plumber, Greg Sheck who works with his son Brandon during such a task. “Lifting a toilet is cumbersome and it’s easier to obtain a level set on the floor when there are two of you.” Greg also recommends having the following on hand, in addition to the new toilet:

Wax Ring, Adjustable Wrench, Channel Locking Pliers, Screwdriver, Towels, Sponge, Bucket, Penetrating Oil, Putty Knife, and Hold-Down Bolts.

So, once you’ve grabbed a buddy and picked out your new John…

Here is option one on how to replace an old toilet:

  1. Turn off the water to the toilet.
  2. Remove the tank lid.
  3. Remove the refill tube from the overflow pipe and drain water from the tank.
  4. Use a rag to pick up any remaining water.
  5. Disconnect the water supply line.
  6. Disconnect the flapper chain.
  7. Unscrew bolts attached to the tank.
  8. Remove tank from the bowl and place on a towel.
  9. Remove the caps sitting on the bolts.
  10. Unscrew nuts with an adjustable wrench.
  11. Rock the bowl a bit to loosen the grip on the floor and place on a towel.
  12. Remove wax ring from the toilet and the floor.
  13. Clean the floor around the drain hole.
  14. If the bolts look rusty, replace them.
  15. Place a new wax ring on the new toilet and carefully position on top of the drain hole. You only get one shot to place it.
  16. Replace wax ring when you miss.
  17. Replace it again.
  18. Take a break and thank your buddy for being a true friend.
  19. Place the new toilet over the hole and gently rock the bowl until it sits level on the floor.
  20. Screw nuts back on with adjustable wrench.
  21. Place caps on bolts.
  22. Place tank on the bowl.
  23. Screw bolts to attach the tank.
  24. Connect the flapper chain.
  25. Connect the water supply line.
  26. Attach the refill tube to the overflow pipe.
  27. Turn the water back on.
  28. Test the new toilet for any leaks.
  29. Find a way to dispose of your old toilet.
  30. Figure out how to pay your buddy back.

Not bad, right? Just 30 simple steps…

Here is option two:

  1. Call Greg and Brandon
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.

Accord Smooth

Imagine a Bathroom WITHOUT Caulk

We apologize if you just dozed off at work in a dreamy haze while picturing a pristine shower – forever bright and new with absolutely no possibility of peeling, dingy, discolored, squiggly caulk lines ever. So sorry. Not sorry!

Wake up! This scenario is possible. However, although the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating are all about empowering their customers to tackle weekend projects, this is not one of them. You’re going to need to call Greg or Brandon to make your caulkless shower dream a reality.

“It’s a big seller for our bathroom remodeling clients,” said Grand Master Plumber, Greg Sheck. “These shower systems are truly a no brainer, they look amazing, and are completely maintenance free.” The guys use the Accord and Ensemble systems from Sterling which is a Kohler Company. Check them out here.

sterlingThe innovative design of these caulkless shower systems installs directly into wall studs using interlocking wall clips. A full-size shower measuring up to 60″ x 36″ x 77″ and can be installed without the usual 24 hours needed for caulk to dry before use – saving both time and money. “The materials used in these systems are top-notch with no chipping, scratching or peeling,” said Sheck. Other features include:

  • An optional 12″ x 16″ seat for optimum comfort.
  • Optional grab bars.
  • Water management system.
  • Larger, deeper shelves able to hold twice as much as other standing shower units.
  • An easy-to-clean, high-gloss surface capable of repelling water and dirt.

“We recommend these systems for every bathroom remodel, these shower systems will knock your socks off,” said Sheck. Call the guys at G&C Plumbing and heating today to make your caulkless shower dream a reality!

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Super Service Award 2016

Every year, Angie’s List gives the Super Service Award to the top A-rated companies in their category, within their market. Angie’s List may give the award, but customers determine the winners based on reviews. This year, we the people decided that G&C Plumbing and Heating was deserving of their second consecutive Super Service Award.

Congrats guys! We know you work really hard to provide superior service to your customers. Way to go, you really deserve this! What do you have to say?

“We’re pretty proud,” said Grand Master Plumber Greg Sheck as he installed a new bathtub for a client. That was all we could get out of him.

Greg is humble. Greg makes writing exciting articles about awesome service hard.

Here is what it takes to be awarded the Super Service Award

  • The award honors excellence among service and health providers who maintain a superior service record. Each year, fewer than 5% of thousands of businesses earn this award.
  • To be eligible for the Super Service Award, businesses must be in good standing with Angie’s List and maintain an “A” rating in each of the following areas:
    • Overall Grade, which averages all reviews received
    • Recent Grade, which averages reviews from the last three years
    • Review Period Grade, which averages reviews received since the previous November 1st to October 31st

Basically, winning the Super Service Award is a great badge of honor that companies can display to show clients they are honest, respectful and really, really good at their job. Look for Super Service award stickers and graphics when you are hiring people to do work in and around your home. The seal lets you know these professionals are safe and reliable, care deeply about what you think, and are the best in the business.

“We’re proud of our award because we set high standards for our business when it comes to customer service and satisfaction. Angie’s List Super Service Award confirms that we’re making our customers happy and that’s our goal,” said Brandon Sheck who is not much better than his father is when it comes to soaking up a little praise.

Well, congratulations guys! We can make a big stink about your awesomeness even if you’re too busy or modest to join in the fun. To help us celebrate, please drop a note on the G&C Facebook page and share your stories about how Greg and Brandon have helped you.

Here is an example:

I had this really strange space to add a bathroom on the second floor of my old farm house. It was basically a closet. Greg and Brandon turned it into the most amazing space. The design they came up with and the outcome surpassed my wildest dreams. Thanks guys! – Sarah Solomon Uxbridge, MA.

 

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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!