Tag Archives: helpful tricks

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.

dishwasher-open

Keeping the Dishwasher Clean

The other day Brandon stopped into one of his favorite suppliers and a regular customer approached to thank him for the tips in our last blog on how to clean the garbage disposal. “I just thought it was supposed to stink like trash,” the busy mom of four told Brandon as she picked out hardware for the G&C Plumbing and Heating guys to use when they installed a new sink and vanity in her bathroom. “You know, my dishwasher smells pretty bad too, how should I clean that?”

Take it away, Brandon…

The first thing you’re going to want to do is clear the drain and filter. It’s not a glamorous job, especially if you don’t do it regularly, so you might want to put on some rubber gloves.

dishwasher-filter

  1. Remove the bottom dish rack and locate the filter and drain. In newer machines, these filters eliminate the grinder that pulverizes food scraps and then pushes the food down the drain. If your drain is clogged, your dishwasher will be louder and stinkier than it should be.
  2. Remove the filter system, which typically has a few interlocking parts, and clean the parts individually at the sink. Use the spay of the faucet, sponge or small brush to dislodge the gunk (hence the gloves) This is going to help immensely with drainage and efficiency.
  3. Check the spray arm for trapped food scraps by lifting it off its base with a little tug. Rinse that under water and clear clogged holes with a toothpick. There is often an additional hole on the underside of the spray arm that shoots water into the filter, make sure you clean that out too before popping it back into the bottom of the dishwasher.

Once you have all the components back into place, and it’s not many so don’t be afraid to take them out, I recommend a vinegar wash to sanitize and deodorize the dishwasher.

  1. Place a cup of white vinegar in a bowl at the back of the upper rack in an empty washer.
  2. Run the dishwasher on your pot scrubbing, or longest, cycle to wash away grease and yuck. If you have hard water, the vinegar will even help with discoloration if you use it regularly – I recommend three or four times a year.

Now that the gunk and yuck is all washed out, I like to give a final rinse for lasting freshness.

  1. Sprinkle about a cup of fresh baking soda across the bottom of the dishwasher. (Fresh baking soda does a better job than the box you’ve had in your cupboard for a decade)
  2. Run the shortest cycle available with nothing else in the dishwasher and you will be greeted with a fresh-smelling, brightened and stain-free interior when all is said and done.

The last step is to take a warm rag dipped in a vinegar and water solution and clean the seal along the frame and top of your dishwasher. Regular cleanings like this will also help prolong the life of the machine – Bonus!

Dishwasher

Thanks, Brandon!

 

raise-your-hand

Heating Hold-Out Hacks

A few months ago, the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating announced a spirited little game to see who amongst us could hold out the longest before turning on the heat this winter. Well, today in New England it’s in the 30s – Raise your hand if you’re still holding out??

COOL!!

Brandon and Greg are behind you all the way. Remember, Grand Master Plumber Greg once held out until Christmas Eve to turn the magical warmth maker on.

The guys have been helping folks repair and replace heaters for years and they’ve gathered a few cheap and easy tricks to get customers through the coldest moments – Moments like these when you want to be the winner of the G&C Heating Hold-Out!

Bragging Rights Rule!

These hacks are handy even if you’ve thrown in the towel and turned on the heat

Crack the Oven Door

After you make holiday cookies, a nice turkey dinner, or heck, a frozen pizza – crack the oven door to let the heat from the oven mingle with the dropping temperate in your house.

Run the Ceiling Fan Clockwise

So, heat rises, right – This is something we can all agree on? Running your fan clockwise will push warmer air back down into a room. Do this a few times a day.

Use Pipe Insulation Under Doors

Our hope is you already have this stuff all over your pipes. Why not use the extra to stick under the bottom of your interior doors to keep warm air from escaping the parts of your house you’ve manage to keep manageable?

Let the Sun In

Whenever the sun is out, open as many drapes and blinds as possible. This seems like a no brainer, but sometimes the best and the brightest heating hold-outs think they need to keep insulated drapes closed, at all times, to keep the heat in. The sun is a heater – use it!

Close the Doors

Not currently using the grandma’s spare bedroom? Close the door. This is particularly handy if you are utilizing a fire place or wood burning stove – close off the rooms you are not using to keep heat in the rooms you are.

Let the Tub Water Sit

After you’ve bathed yourself or the kids, let the warm water sit in the tub until it cools to room temperature. Not only will it help heat up the bathroom, but it can also provide some humidity for the rest of the house.

Seal Up Cracks

We saved the best for last – Blocking wind is the first step to staying warm. Winter drafts can drop the temperature by up to 100% or more, so make sure your doors and windows are sealed to prevent air leaks. Use curtains to add another layer of protection from the wind. A two-curtain setup is best, with a liner to block the draft while allowing sunlight to warm the house, and a blackout-solar curtain to block out your loud and unsightly neighbors.

Stay Warm and Toasty

We hope some of these hacks help. Be sure to speak up on the G&C Plumbing and Heating Facebook page if you’re still holding out and haven’t turned on your heater. If you’re feeling extra generous, maybe share some of your heating hold-out hacks with the rest of us!

 

Stop Plumbing Emergencies

Stop Even More Plumbing Emergencies Before They Happen.

Greg and Brandon have witnessed their fair share of plumbing catastrophes; most have to do with water in all the wrong places. Again, 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 even more serious plumbing problems before they start.

Yippee, Mom installed a pool in the basement!

“Know where your main shutoff valve is located,” implores Greg to avoid unexpected pools. Most homes have dozens or hundreds of different valves to make up a plumbing system, but the main water valve controls the flow of all water into your home.

The main shut off valve is usually located at the lowest level of your home on a wall closest to the street. Did you find it? Good. Now, test the valve to make sure it turns off properly. Greg and Brandon suggest hanging a large tag labeled “main valve” or “turn me” from the valve handle so all members of your household can find it in case a pool starts forming in your basement. If you are going to be gone for more than a week, it’s always smart to shut off this valve off before leaving despite your kid’s nagging desire for an indoor pool.

Keep The Rinse Cycle in Your Washing Machine

Another plumbing point that can be become problematic is a set of rubber connection hoses on your washing machine. “These hoses can dry out, burst and the next thing you know, the rinse cycle is happening in your family room,” said Brandon. To avoid this plumbing problem, check the hoses twice year for cracks and blisters. If crawling behind your washer twice a year is going to be a long shot, you might want to call G&C to replace the rubber hoses with steel models and have them install a single-lever shutoff valve that is easy to reach.

Next month on Plumbers Without Cracks we’ll explore the nature of The Almighty Water Heater. Until then, continue looking for your main shutoff valve and keep those pants pulled up!