Clearing a Drain

How to Clear a Drain

There are a number of plumbing repairs that require immediate attention. Among these is a clogged drain. Everyone knows the inconvenience and mess that accompany a sluggish drain. Even so, many people wait until the drain stops completely before they take corrective action. Sometimes a clog can be cleared with a simple homemade remedy.

There are two different type of treatments that should be used:

  1. Standard Clog

If you have a moderately clogged drain, try this homemade drain cleaner from Pour 1/2 cup of baking soda down the drain followed by 1/2 cup of vinegar. Be careful. The two ingredients interact with foaming and fumes, so replace the drain cover loosely. Let the concoction set for about three hours before running warm water.

2. Grease Clog

If you know the slow drain is from grease, try this treatment: Pour in 1/2 cup of salt and 1/2 cup of baking soda followed by a teakettle of boiling water. Allow to sit overnight.

Routine Maintenance can save time and money if you follow the following tips:

You can keep your drains clog-free and odorless by using the following homemade noncorrosive drain cleaner weekly. Combine 1 cup baking soda, 1 cup table salt, and 1/4 cup cream of tartar. Stir ingredients together thoroughly and pour into a clean, covered jar. Pour 1/4 cup of mixture into drain, and immediately add 1 cup boiling water. Wait 10 seconds, then flush with cold water. Flushing weekly with a generous amount of boiling water also works well.

Good Luck

Septic Tank Information Asked by our Customers

How does a conventional septic system work?

Conventional septic systems are the most common type of septic system (the others are innovative/alternative (I/A) systems and cesspools). A conventional system includes a septic tank, distribution box, and soil absorption system (SAS). The septic tank separates the solid and liquid wastes and the SAS provides additional treatment before distributing the wastewater to the ground.

Why are failing septic systems harmful?

Inadequately treated wastewater can transfer diseases such as dysentery, hepatitis, and typhoid fever to animals and humans. Failing systems also leak excessive nutrients and bacteria to rivers, lakes, and the ocean, destroying plant and animal habitat, closing beaches, and hurting the fishing industry and causing breakouts of agile in lakes and ponds.

How do I know if my system is having problems?

Some clues:

  • Muddy soil or pools of wastewater around your septic tank or soil absorption system.
  • Sewage smells around your system or inside your house.
  • Backups when you do laundry, take showers, or flush the toilet.

Call GAC Company (707) 538-5325 if you notice any of these symptoms.

Do I really save money by maintaining my system?

Yes. Pumping your system costs between $150 and $650, and an inspection could cost $200-$800. Replacing a system could cost up to $45,000.

What are the most important things to do to take care of my system?

Pump your system at least every 3 years (annually if you have a garbage disposal). Conserve water. Don’t dump non-biodegradable s or trash down your toilet or sink. See our list of do’s and dont’s .

How often should I pump?

Every 2 to 5  years, and annually if you have a garbage disposal.

Will additives help my system?

There isn’t one on the market that can make a failing system pass inspection. To ensure the additives will not harm your system we recommend using natural preventive maintenance.

What are the regulations governing the disposal of paint and paint wastes into a septic system?

Only sanitary sewage is allowed to be discharged to septic systems. Paint and paint wastes should not be put into any septic system because they can adversely affect their operation and may cause groundwater contamination.

How Do I as a System Owner Properly Care for my Septic System? (Do’s & Don’ts)

Conventional septic systems can function very well with minimal care. In fact, most septic tanks will only require an inspection and pumping out by a professional every three to five years if they are used properly. This does not pertain to I/A systems, which need more frequent oversight.

DO …

Do have the system inspected and pumped every 3 to 5 years. If the tank fills up with an excess of solids, the wastewater will not have enough time to settle in the tank. These excess solids will then pass on to the leach field, where they will clog the drain lines and soil.

Do know the location of the septic system and drain field, and keep a record of all inspections, pumpings, repairs, contract or engineering work for future references. Keep a sketch of it handy for service visits.

Do grow grass or small plants (not trees or shrubs) above the septic system to hold the drain field in place. Water conservation through creative landscaping is a great way to control excess runoff.

Do install water-conserving devices in faucets, showerheads and toilets to reduce the volume of water running into the septic system. Repair dripping faucets and leaking toilets, run washing machines and dishwashers only when full, and avoid long showers.

Do divert roof drains and surface water from driveways and hillsides away from the septic system. Keep sump pumps and house footing drains away from the system as well.

Do use only additives that have been allowed for usage in California.   Additives that are allowed for use in California  have been determined not to produce a harmful effect to the individual system or its components or to the environment at large.

Do take leftover hazardous chemicals to your approved hazardous waste collection center for disposal. Use bleach, disinfectants, and drain and toilet bowl cleaners sparingly and in accordance with product labels.


Do not use your toilet or sink as a trash can by dumping non-biodegradables (cigarette butts, diapers, feminine products, etc.) or grease down your sink or toilet. Non-biodegradables can clog the pipes, while grease can thicken and clog the pipes. Store cooking oils, fats, and grease in a can for disposal in the garbage.

Do not put paint thinner, polyurethane, anti-freeze, pesticides, some dyes, disinfectants, water softeners, and other strong chemicals into the system. These can cause major upsets in the septic tank by killing the biological part of your septic system and polluting the groundwater. Small amounts of standard household cleaners, drain cleansers, detergents, etc. will be diluted in the tank and should cause no damage to the system.

Do not use a garbage grinder or disposal, which feeds into the septic tank. If you do have one in the house, severely limit its use. Adding food wastes or other solids reduces your system’s capacity and increases the need to pump the septic tank. If you use a grinder, the system must be pumped more often.

Do not plant trees within 30 feet of your system or park/drive over any part of the system. Tree roots will clog your pipes, and heavy vehicles may cause your drainfield to collapse.

Do not allow anyone to repair or pump your system without first checking that they are licensed system professionals.

Do not perform excessive laundry loads with your washing machine. Doing load after load does not allow your septic tank time to adequately treat wastes and overwhelms the entire system with excess wastewater. You could therefore be flooding your drain field without allowing sufficient recovery time. You should consult your tank professional to determine the gallon capacity and number of loads per day that can safely go into the system.

Do not use chemical solvents to clean the plumbing or septic system. “Miracle” chemicals will kill microorganisms that consume harmful wastes. These products can also cause groundwater contamination.

Sizing an Tankless Water heater

Sizing a Tankless Water Heater

Ground Water Temperatures Across USA
Ground water temperatures greatly affect the heated flow rate capacity of a tankless water heater.
Tankless water heaters are great appliances but are often oversold in terms of their capabilities. Like many great ideas, the marketing hype can often get ahead of the technology and sales people over-commit the capabilities of the product to the consumer. The result is an unsatisfied customer, wasted money and a poorly performing appliance.Take a look at any tankless water heater ad and you’ll probably see a promoted feature like “Provides up to 4GPM.” Well, that rating is likely the BEST CASE situation for that product and may not be to the level of performance you are expectin.

Why? Because sizing a tankless water heater is based on 3 things:

  • Temperature of water entering the unit (ground water temp),
  • Desired temperature of water exiting the unit (together these 2 items determine the temperature rise required of the tankless water heater) and;
  • The required hot water flow rate (based on shower heads and faucets).


Let’s look at an example using a colder climate like Boston, MA. Ground water temperature in Boston is about 47 degrees F. If your want a normal 105 degree shower, that means you have a 58 degree temperature rise (105-47=58). As a result, you need to look at the tankless water heater’s GPM flow rating based on a 58 degree temperature rise. Let’s continue our example with a popular product, the Bosch 1600P-NG tankless water heater. This unit advertises a flow rate of about 4 gallons per minute (GPM). But if you’re still using an older style shower head the older shower head’s flow rate can exceed the capacity of that tankless water heater. An older style shower head (pre 1992) can demand from 6 to 8 gallons per minute (GPM) of flow rate. A newer shower head (after 1992) usually uses 2.2 GPM.But let’s assume that the Bosch 1600P-NG tankless water heater is being used only as a supplemental water heater. What about it’s 4 GPM claim? Well, this unit only provides 105 degree hot water at a 45 degree F temperature rise as found in warm southern climates. At a 58 degree rise required in Boston, MA the unit is rated at about 3.3 GPM. The only way this Bosch unit will work as a tankless water heater is if it only provides hot water to the shower or the bathroom where the shower is located in, and a low flow 2.2 GPM shower head (post 1992) is being used.

Also, if this unit is being used as your home’s main water heater and is expected to provide hot water to more than the one bathroom, it will be undersized and cannot work as a whole house tankless water heater with only a 3 or 4 GPM rating. A whole house application requires a larger unit or ganged multiple units depending on your home’s size and location.

How to Replace a Toilet Flapper

How To replace your toilet flapper

A toilet flapper is the rubber plug inside the tank that lifts when you flush, allowing water to flow in to rinse and then fill the bowl. Over time, the flapper gets old, cracks and allows the toilet to run by failing to fully seal against the valve seat.

A properly functioning flapper cuts down water bills and loud noises from constant filling. You can replace this roughly $15 part in five easy steps:

Tools & Materials Required:
Phillips or flat-head screwdriver (required for some models)
Needle-nose pliers
Shut off the toilet water valve

locate the shutoff valve on the wall near the toilet and turn it off. Next, take the cover off the tank, so you can see inside. Flush the toilet to empty the tank. If the tank starts to fill again, you haven’t turned the shutoff completely off.

Remove the old flapper

The flapper sits on the very bottom of the tank. First, detach the chain from the metal or plastic tank lever arm connected to the handle. Next, reach in and twist the flapper from side to side until it comes loose. If a ring around the fill valve holds the flapper in place, then slide it all the way up and off.
Don’t throw the old flapper away just yet. Take it to the hardware store to ensure you get the right replacement.

Purchase the replacement Flapper

Toilet flappers come in three common types: rubber, seat disk and tank ball. Newer toilets normally have rubber flappers, while older toilets have seat disc flappers that you screw on or snap into place. A tank ball, also found on older toilets and attached via a lift wire, looks exactly like you would expect.
You should be able to find the right flapper at your local hardware store based on the approximate age and brand of your toilet. Compare the replacement to the old flapper. If you’re unsure, ask an employee who is trained on plumbing products.

Install the replacement

Depending on the type of flapper, either snap, drop, screw or slide the new one into place. If the new flapper comes with a ring on the end, but small hinges connected the old one, you should cut the ring off first and attach it the same way.
Make sure the chain is long enough to allow the flapper to seal. It should have some slack, but not enough that it catches underneath the flapper. If necessary, remove a few links before attaching it to the tank lever arm.

Test it out

With the new flapper installed, turn the shutoff valve on. When the tank is full, flush it to make sure that the flapper seals when it starts to fill again.
If it runs a little bit, empty the tank again. Make sure the flapper is properly seated on the bottom of the tank and the chain is not too long. Turn the water on and try again.
When you’re certain the flapper seals, install the cover and that’s it.


If the toilet continues running or you discover that the entire toilet — not just the flapper — needs replaced, call GAC Plumbing Company at 707-538-5325

How to Repair a Leaking Faucet

Leaking Faucet

Leaking Faucet

If your outdoor faucet leaks around the handle when you turn it on, you either have a loose packing nut or a bad packing washer. First try tightening the nut with a wrench or pliers. (The size and type of nut varies a bit with faucet styles.) If the nut is tight but the leak persists, shut off the water to the faucet inside the house, remove the faucet handle from the outside faucet and unscrew the nut. You should be able to pull off the old packing washer and take it to a hardware store to find an exact replacement.

Older faucets may have a wad of string, called valve packing, instead of a packing washer. If so, pick up new packing (graphite-coated string) at the hardware store, unwind the old packing and wind on the new clockwise. The packing nut should compress it tightly. You may have to wind on one layer, tighten the nut and then repeat the process to fill the space around the stem completely with packing string.

Saving Water Tips

Water conservation is extremely important. Here are some ways you can do your part:

Water Conservation Tips

    • Don’t use excessive amounts of detergents, bleach or chemicals that may kill the natural bacteria in your septic system.
    • Use biodegradable soaps and detergents.
    • To prevent excessive watering of your lawn in the summertime, purchase an inexpensive spring-loaded timer which attaches directly to your outside faucet. This will prevent overwatering in case you forget to shut off the sprinkler.
    • Water pressure in your home above 60 pounds per square inch is harmful to your plumbing system and will cause excessive water usage. Contact your local water authority to find out what the water pressure is on your street. If it exceeds 60 pounds, consider installing a pressure reducing valve that will limit the water pressure within your home.
    • Check your water meter during a period of time when no water is being used. Make a note of the meter reading and check it 8 to 10 hours later. If the meter has moved, there is an indication that you may have an undetected water leak, which should be corrected.
Leaky Toilet
  • Leaky toilets consume more than 40% of your total water usage. Installation of a new toilet flapper and fill valve will keep your toilet running efficiently.
Water Heater Temperature
  • Conserve energy by checking the temperature setting on your water heater. It should not be above 120°F or medium setting on older models.
Shower Head
  • Replacing an old shower head can save up to 7.5 gallons of water per minute without sacrificing full spray action at low or high water pressures.
Leaky Faucet
  • A leaky faucet that drips once per second can waste more than 8 gallons a day. That’s 3,000 gallons per year!

Bathroom Maintenance Tips

Home Plumbing Tips and Maintenance

These helpful tips should help keep the plumbing in your bathroom running efficiently:


  • Once a week run hot water down the drain to help keep it free-flowing.
  • Use Baking Soda & Vinager to bathroom drain lines once each month to keep soap scum from building up and causing clogs.
  • Repair leaky faucets to avoid further damage to the fixtures and faucets.
  • Tubs and showers should be fitted with strainers that catch hair and soap chips. Clean the strainers regularly.
  • To remove unsightly mineral deposits on your shower head, put one cup of vinegar in a plastic bag and place it over the shower head. Hold it in place with a twist tie and let stand overnight. In the morning, remove the bag and wipe off the mineral deposits with a damp cloth.
  • Do not use your toilet as a wastebasket. Do not flush facial tissue, cotton balls, make-up pads, sanitary products or diapers as they do not dissolve and can clog the lines. Keep a trash container in each bathroom and toss these items away.

Showerhead Maintenance

Showerheads develop uneven spray when the holes become clogged with mineral deposits from the water. To clean:

Shower Head

  • Unscrew swivel ball nut – you will need adjustable wrench or channel-type pliers. (Hint: to protect the finish from scratches, first wrap the jaws of the tool with masking tape.)
  • Unscrew collar nut from showerhead.
  • Gently clean the outlet and inlet holes of the showerhead using a thin wire.
  • Flush the head with clean water.
  • You may want to soak the showerhead in vinegar overnight to remove mineral deposits. Reassemble the showerhead.

Testing a Toilet for Leaks

Check the water level in the tank to be sure that the water is not overflowing by way of the overflow pipe (the pipe in the middle of the tank with a small piece of tubing connected to it).


  • If water is running into the overflow pipe, adjust the fill valve until the water stops approximately one inch below the top of the overflow tube (there may be a water level mark stamped on the side of the tank).
  • Test the flush valve mechanism by putting a few drops of food coloring into the tank.
  • Check the bowl after 15 minutes, if the water in the toilet bowl has changed color, the ball or flapper is leaking and needs to be replaced.

Cleaning an Aerator

Low water pressure from the faucet or water leaks from the handle are usually caused by lime buildup and sediment blocking the small openings inside the aerator. Clean the aerator using the following steps:


  • By hand, carefully unscrew the aerator from the faucet turning counterclockwise. If it will not unscrew, wrap the jaws of your pliers with masking tape and loosen the aerator with the pliers. Continue by hand.
  • Take aerator or spray head apart.
  • Use a small brush dipped in vinegar to remove sediment.
  • Reassemble the aerator and screw back on to the faucet.

Winter Plumbing Checklist

Winter Plumbing Tips

The brutal winter season can wreak havoc on your plumbing system. It is very important to prepare for the temperature drop. Frozen water in pipes can destroy your plumbing from the inside out. As a preventive measure get ready for winter with GAC Company Plumbers winter plumbing checklist.

1.  Fix All Plumbing Leaksplumbing leak

The smallest water leak in your plumbing can turn into a huge problem when temperatures fall below freezing. Check all exposed pipes, indoors and out, for plumbing leaks. If you wait, and the water to freezes, the damage to the surrounding pipes is likely to be more significant. If your pipes are insulated, feel for potential in the insulation. This moisture might expose hidden leaks in your plumbing.

Stopping plumbing leaks will not only save your plumbing, but it will also save you money. You can also learn how to find leaks in your plumbing system by following the step by step instructions in this link on stopping high water bills:

2.  Insulate Your Pipesplumbing insulation

One basic preventive measure you can take in protecting your plumbing against a harsh winter is to make sure that all exposed pipes are well insulated. To locate exposed pipes; look in your attic, crawl spaces throughout your house, and in your garage. If you can see the pipe, it needs to be wrapped with plumbing insulation foam. Pipe wrap insulation is inexpensive and easy to install. This can save you on heating costs as well because warm air will escape through the exposed plumbing. The insulation helps keep the warm air in. You will be surprised how effective insulating your plumbing is when it comes to protecting your plumbing.

3.  Evaporative Cooler (Swamp Cooler)swamp_cooler

An evaporative cooler, also known as a swamp cooler, should be drained before winter. Before you winterize your swamp cooler, make certain you turn off the water and power to the unit. After the water and power is turned off, drain the water out of the cooler. Always make sure the water supply line to the unit is drained as well.

While winterizing the swamp cooler for winter, it is always a good time to clean the interior and change the pads and filters. Always make certain to cover the swamp cooler with a cover or tarp during the winter to keep it dry.

4.  Pump HousePump_House_Building

When it comes to plumbing, prevention in keeping things from freezing is the key for a smooth winter season. When your water comes from a well this is especially important. If you have a well, make certain there is proper insulation of the pump house. This will help can keep pipes from freezing. It is very important to insulate any exposed pipes in the pump house. A heat source is also needed to keep the temperature of the pump house above freezing. Make certain your heater is in working order. Check all the heating elements.

5.  Hose Bibs

Protecting the hose bibs and pipes from freezing is very important. Remove any garden hoses that are connected to outdoor faucets. Removing garden hoses ensures that water doesn’t stay trapped in the hose bib where it can freeze and damage your plumbing. Drain any water the hoses may have in them before storing. Protect garden hoses by storing them in a warm dry space throughout the winter. Often, perfectly good hoses in the fall, are stored in places that freeze during the winter. When these same hoses are brought out to be used in spring they are broken with holes. Freezing temperatures make garden hoses brittle. This couples with water being left in the hose make the hoses obsolete in the spring.Hose bib

To protect hose bibs from the cold, drain the collected water and insulate them. In many places where temperatures drop significantly during the winter months, homes have dedicated shut off valves for outdoor hose bibs or faucets. If you have a shut off valve, simply turn the water to the hose bibs off. Make sure you then drain any water that is already in the pipes. This can be done by opening the hose bibs and letting the water drain completely. If you don’t have a shut off valve, you can protect hose bibs and outdoor faucets by insulating them with hose bib covers. Hose bib covers are very inexpensive and extremely easy to install. The insulation that these foam covers provide should keep the hose bibs from freezing during the winter.

6.  Sprinklers Systemwinterize-lawn sprinkler system

The pipes of your irrigation system are a likely place for water to collect and then freeze in cold weather. To winterize your sprinkler system turn off the water and flush out any collected water by turning on each individual valve connected to the sprinkler system.

7.  Locate Your Water Main (Extremely Important)

Always make certain you locate your water main in case of an emergency. This is absolutely imperative. Following this 1 tip could save you tens of thousands of dollars in water damage restoration and flood cleanup. If you are ever faced with a burst pipe due to freezing you’ll want to be able to shut off the water quickly to minimize damage to your water supply main pipeline with meter against a Purple concreteproperty. You can take every preventative measure to ensure your plumbing from freezing and still get broken water pipes in the winter. Know where the water shutoff valve to your home is. Make sure you have unencumbered