Tag Archives: helpful tricks

5.13.18c

Heater’s Last Stand

Raise your hand if when you turned off the heat last month you were amazed your system lasted through winter because you’re pretty sure it’d been circling the drain since Thanksgiving.

Hands down.

Greg and Brandon Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating know you don’t want to talk about heat after the winter we just survived, but now is actually the best time of the year to make some critical decisions about your heating system. “Because you don’t need it right now,” said Grand Master Plumber Greg Sheck. So, whether you’re certain of your system’s impending death or just curious, Greg and Brandon want you to do them a favor…

Go over to your heating system, right now, and run a quick test to make sure it’s in proper working order. “Don’t worry, running a test on your heater isn’t technically the same as turning it on,” said Greg for those still suffering from the psychological effects of March.

  • Move the thermostat switch to the “heat/on” position and turn it up at least 10 degrees higher than the actual room temperature.
  • Listen carefully. Within a few minutes, you should hear your heating equipment jump into action.
  • If the equipment doesn’t start up, press the reset button on your burner’s relay. Press it just once.
  • If your system still doesn’t start, consider these points:
    • Are the emergency switches on? (There may be two: one at the stairs and one at the unit)
    • Did the fuse or circuit breaker for your equipment trip?

If the system kicks on, good! But, Greg wants you to consider a few things while it’s humming:

  • How many times in the past three years have you had the system serviced? Check out your service history to review the dollars spent. “If the numbers are creeping up there, you might want to invest in a new high-efficiency system instead of return-repair visits,” said Greg.
  • Are there any abnormal smells or funky noises? A bump or two from the basement is to be expected, but “if you hear excessive humming, clunking, banging, or smell strange odors, that’s not good and even if you don’t replace the system, it certainly needs a check-up.”
  • Is the air dry or dusty? Noticeable amounts of dust or drastic changes in air humidity can be symptoms of a declining heating system.

“We don’t want folks to sit back, enjoy their spring and summer and then find themselves in October with a faulty system,” said Brandon Sheck. “That is actually the worst time to make critical decisions about your heating system because that’s when you need it.”

G&C is pleased to offer financing options for pro-active customers this spring. “We have a 12-month financing option with 0 percent interest if you pay it off in said months, or longer terms like 60 to 84-month options for about six to nine percent interest,” said Brandon who is glad this gives customers peace of mind about coming up with money upfront for something they don’t even want to talk about when the weather is nice.

If you’re suspicious that your heater may have made its last stand over the winter, call the guys at G&C Pluming and Heating to get some honest advice and suggestions about what you should do right now.  In addition to financing options, Greg can tell you about some helpful MASS Save rebates that will also help.

We’ll tell you all the details next time!

gandc

Exciting Developments on the Horizon for G&C Plumbing and Heating

In the coming months, Greg and Brandon of G&C Plumbing and Heating will be introducing a ton of cool stuff for their customers! There will be set pricing and membership opportunities, so you’re never caught in a lurch if a plumbing disaster strikes. And, they will be upping their game when it comes to bathroom remodeling, too. Keep your eye out, and check in at this website from time to time to see what new and cool stuff is happening with our Plumbers without Cracks.

Of course, they will always remain the faithful and courteous plumbers you can count on and trust. Greg and Brandon pride themselves in always answering the call when you are in need. And now, Christine, Greg’s one and only (and the “C” in G&C), will be the one to answer your call and set up your appointment with they guys. No waiting around for a call back!

Because they always strive to empower customers with as much plumbing knowledge as possible, here are some tried and true tips the guys often recommend to help avoid potential disasters. We like to call them…

Expert Tips from the Trenches.

  1. Dear John – 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.
  2.  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. 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.
  3.  Stinky Water – “If your water stinks, it’s likely your water heater is to blame,” says Greg Sheck. The internal parts that do the heating in the tank can corrode because they spend their lives in a hot water chemical bath. The by-products of the corrosion mix with your water and cause a horrible smell. If this happens, you need to call a plumber immediately. The chemical breakdown of your water heater’s components is happening too fast, and your water may pose a health risk.
  4.  Washing Machine Check-UP – 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.
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!

 

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!

 

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!