Tag Archives: plumbing tricks

drain-trap

The Drain Trap – Yogi Guru of Your Plumbing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sheck Tip for Drain Trap Maintenance

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

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

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

Until next time, Namaste.

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.

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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!

 

 

sprinkler

Summer Plumbing Conundrums

Here’s the thing about summer plumbing problems: Most people don’t think they occur. As if all of your plumbing issues conspire to burst, leak and break only in the winter. It’s just not true!

Think about it, all the kids are home and constantly flushing the toilet or running through the sprinkler while you are trying to relax by the pool or lake. Truth is, there is more unattended time for plumbing issues to pop up during the dog days of summer.

Here are a few of the major culprits that Greg and Brandon Sheck from G&C Plumbing and Heating run into all the time.

Keep An Eye On

Sprinklers & Outdoor Faucets

Ahh, the mighty in ground sprinkler system. Just remember, these lush green lawn Sherpas sit dormant for months resulting in serious wear-and-tear. “You might not notice a sprinkler leak until you receive that high water bill and you’re like – but we weren’t even home last month. To prevent leaks, make sure you thoroughly clean your system each summer,” said Brandon Sheck. Or, just call Greg and Brandon to check the system for you.

Sometimes leaks in your home aren’t discovered until you use an outdoor faucet for the first time. You might want to wash the car or let the kids play in the hose during a hot August day and bam, there you find water pooling under your spigot. “Give all faucets a once over a few times during the summer – sometimes kids just forget to turn them all the way off,” said Brandon. If you’re on vacation reading this and worried you might be establishing the next great lake in your back yard, again, call G&C and the guys can go check it out for you.

Toilets

The kids are out of school and it seems the entire neighborhood spends the summer hydrating at your house – sound familiar? When the toilet is constantly flushing (you hope not toys) your fixtures get more use and can succumb to maintenance issues.

“Now is the time to sit everyone down and give a little talk on limiting toilet paper use and explaining that certain things cannot be flushed,” said Grand Master Plumber and father of two Greg Sheck.

Disposals

Here is a typical summer day: Each kid has 3 bowls of cereal that they pour down the sink, followed by pizzas for lunch and cook outs at night (All also dumped down the drain) Your garbage disposal is working like it’s Christmas Day for two months straight.

“The best way you can avoid clogs and break downs is to limit the use of your disposal and never push down items such as hard fruits, fibrous vegetables, corn cobs or starchy foods that can soak up water in drains and clog pipes,” said Greg who also recommends a good clean out with Bio Clean. This all natural product can help all drains weather the summer months.

Sheck BBQ Tip: During cookouts, have guest avoid your garbage disposal altogether. Set out a designated garbage for fixings and uneaten food that is clearly marked. You can even place a bucket in the sink to collect scraps.

Sewer clogs

“No one ever believes this when we tell them, but tree roots can grow into sewer lines during the spring and summer,” said Brandon who laughed out loud the first time his dad showed him an example of this growing out of a toilet.

If you notice a slow drain, this could be a sign that invasive tree roots might have invited themselves in. Roots like sewer pipes because they’re a great water and nutrient source. Also look for strange areas on your lawn (typically running along your sewer line) where the grass is particularly lush and green. If a tree root has grown into your sewer line and the contents of said line are now leaking out and feeding your lawn this is not a good thing even if the lawn looks it’s best ever.

Roots in the sewer pipe can result in a headache no one wants to have during summer vacation. Call the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating before you head out on your final camping trip of the summer to make sure you don’t come home to any unwanted surprises.

Enjoy summer. Leave plumbing to the pros!

This Old Water Heater

If the guys at G&C Plumbing and Heating could talk you into updating anything in your house to improve your energy efficiency it would be that old water heater in the corner of your basement. By nature, the traditional hot water heater is like a 1976 Chrysler New Yorker in that it is giant, and in constant need of fuel. It is not, however, impressive or fun.

“Water storage tanks work constantly to keep water hot for when you want it. When the water sits, it cools down, known as standby heat loss, then the burner or heating element kicks on to heat it up again, and again and again and again,” said Greg, master plumber who hates old water heater inefficiencies.

The guys agree that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but water heating is the second largest energy hog in your home – heating and cooling is numero uno. So, until the old unit goes belly up, or you get sick of paying an extra $300 to $400 a year to constantly reheat a tub of water in the corner of your basement, here are a couple of tips to help out:

Turn Her Down
Most water heaters come preset to 140 degrees, but for every 10 degrees you turn the beast down you’ll save 3% to 5% on your bill. “We recommend keeping water heaters at 120 degrees so you don’t burn yourself,” said Brandon who likes a nice hot shower as much as the next guy. Call him and he’ll set the temperature for you. If you’re a Sunday, do-it-yourself kind of guy, or gal, here’s how to get 120 degrees:

  • Find a thermometer to measure the water coming out of the tap farthest away from the heater. Mark the temperature on the water heater thermostat because chances are it will be wrong. (It might even just say low, medium and high)
  • From there, turn down the thermostat to what you think will be 120 degrees and then wait a few hours and measure the water temperature again at the same far-away faucet. This might take a few tries, so if you want to call Brandon now and get back to the game you can. Some old water heaters have two thermostats — one for the bottom heating element and one for the top for twice the fun.

Drain the Junk
Tanks build up sediment which reduces efficiency. Do you have another Sunday? If so:

  • Turn off the water and power to the water heater. On a gas unit, set the burner to “pilot.”
  • Connect a garden hose to the spigot at the base of the tank and other end of the hose pointed at your floor drain.
  • Turn on the tank’s spigot.
  • Open a faucet in a bathroom or kitchen (hot side only) to allow air into the system so water will drain from water heater.
  • Don’t drain it completely, less water more often is actually best. A quart every three months.

What? None of the above sounds fun? Ok, stay tuned for the next installment of Plumbers Without Cracks when we discuss: Oh Good, You’re Finally Going to Replace That Old Water Heater. If you just can’t wait two weeks, give Brandon or Greg at call today at 508.541.8783.