When it comes to preparing your plumbing for winter, you don’t want to be left out in the cold. At GAC Plumbing Company, we can help you with all your seasonal plumbing maintenance needs. Below are five quick and easy ways to get your plumbing ready for cold months.

1. Check for Leaks

Now is the time to look for any plumbing leaks around your home. Check faucets and shower heads and take note of any low water pressure. If you see any leaks, call a professional to repair them right away. Even small leaks add up quickly, wasting precious water as well as money.

2. Disconnect Your Outdoor Hose

When the temperature drops, hoses are the first victims. One of the most important plumbing maintenance tasks this time of year is disconnecting and storing any outdoor hoses to prevent freezing. This also helps protect pipes inside your home. Try to do this ahead of time so your hose is safely stores before the first wave of cold temperatures. Also during the freezing temperatures it is a good idea to locate the shutoff valves for outside faucets and turn those off.

3. Have Your Pipes Inspected

If you’ve never inspected your pipes before, a professional can check them to make sure that they are in tiptop shape for the winter months. They can also prevent pipes from bursting by insulating them to protect your home and replacing them if they are faulty. Bursting pipes can be devastating to a homeowner.

4. Keep Your Home Warm

This tip may seem simple, but cool indoor temperatures can be the biggest cause of pipes bursting in the home. Check to see that your thermostat is set and activated, and make sure that the temperature in your home does not drop below 55 degrees Fahrenheit.

5. Take Care of Your Sinks

Using a sink as a garbage disposal can be problematic. Particularly during winter, oils and fats poured down the drain can freeze once temperatures drop. This can clog your drains and cause more problems. Be sure to dispose of grease properly to keep your pipes clear and be ready for the big chill.

If you want a hand with your plumbing maintenance tasks this year, the experts at GAC PLUMBING COMPANY are happy to help. Contact the team today to schedule an appointment.

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

GAC Plumbing Company

Sizing an Tankless Water heater

Sizing a Tankless Water Heater

US Groundwater Temperature

Incoming water temperature is an important part of the equation used to calculate required heater sizing. In many applications, you can just use the default groundwater temperature for that value.

Find your local US groundwater temperature on the map below:

Groundwater temperaturesGround 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.

GAC Plumbing Company


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 $18 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 707-538-8000

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.

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.