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How to Turn Off Individual and Main Water Shutoff Valves

Friday, August, 25th, 2017 at 6:00 AM by GoldMe12

How to Turn Off Individual and Main Water Shutoff Valves

If you don’t know where to locate the Water Main, let alone turn it off in an emergency, it’s time to learn the basics. As a homeowner, knowing how to turn off individual and main water shutoff valves can save time and money, often preventing further water damage until the professionals can arrive.

It may not be an emergency, but remodeling or repairs, that prompts you to turn of the water to your home.

Whether a pipe has sprung a leak, you’re leaving on vacation, or you’re doing a little DIY plumbing, it’s important to know how to turn off your water supply for safety, maintenance, and peace of mind.

You may just save the day with these tips.

What is a Water Main?

A Water Main is the main line in a water supply system. It is an underground pipe that delivers water into the home. If a water main breaks or there is a water leak in your home, you will need to locate the shutoff valves as quickly as possible.

If a water leak occurs in your home, it can be a dramatic scene, with water shooting out and flowing into your space. If this occurs, will you know where to look? Which tools to grab? Which way to turn the valve? Water damage is expensive and the quicker you can troubleshoot, the easier it will be to repair the after effects.

An emergency water leak or main line break is not the time to go searching for your shutoff valves for the first time. Locate them now and be prepared to cut off any leak at the source.

In case of emergency: Cut it off at the source

Where is the leak coming from? The toilet? The sink? The bathtub? Each of these fixtures has a different water shut-off valve. If you can cut off the water at the source, then there is no need to locate the indoor shutoff valve for the main line, or the outdoor main line shutoff by the meter. There is the house-side main shutoff and the street-side main shutoff. In your modern home, these will be ball valves.

Localized Shutoff Valves, also called Fixture Supply Stops, are installed in the supply lines of toilets, faucets, dishwashers, washing machines, water softeners, and water heaters. Individual shut-off valves are oval or round valves that when turned clockwise shutoff the water supply to the localized area without shutting off water to the entire house. Below are a couple examples:

Toilet Supply Stop — Behind the toilet, you will see what is called the Packing Nut. The handle is oval or round in shape. If the leak if coming from the toilet, turning the Packing Nut clockwise will stop the localized leak at its source. You may not have access to bathtub/shower shut-off valves. If you don’t have panels or spaces behind the bathroom to turn off these water sources, contact a plumber.

Kitchen Faucet Supply Stops — Beneath your sink, you will see pipes with a series of valves. Each one is a connection to a different appliance, for example to the ice-maker or the dishwasher. If you cannot find the individual shut-offs for your refrigerator or other kitchen appliances, look underneath the kitchen, usually in a basement utility closet. Standard supply stops will leak less often than saddle valves. Consider an upgrade if you are having consistent issues with saddle valves.

How to locate the meter and main shutoff valves

The location of the meter and main shutoff valves in your home depend on the weather in your region and even the age of your home. In colder climates, you will most likely find them in the basement or in an area less susceptible to freezing. In warmer climates, they could be outside the house, attached to the exterior wall or even in an underground box close to the exterior of your home.

The water main outside, located near the meter, contains a “buried curb stop valve” beneath the ground and a “corporation stop” which is what connects your house water to the water main, but this is accessible only by the city. Never tamper with the city shut-off side of the meter or the water meter itself. It is both dangerous and illegal. If you have any doubts, contact your local plumber.

Keep in mind that in order to open the water meter box, you may need a special “meter key,” which you can find at your local home improvement store. Click here for more information on locating and turning off you main water shut-offs.

In the case of a water leak or main line break, call the professionals at Gold Medal Service for immediate backup. We offer 24/7 residential plumbing repair and replacement services when you need it the most.

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Water Quality Month Offers Opportunities to Help Environment

Tuesday, August, 22nd, 2017 at 8:00 AM by GoldMe12


Heather Ripley
President, Ripley PR
Phone: 865-977-1973
[email protected]

Water Quality Month Offers Opportunities to Help Environment

Leading New Jersey HVAC, plumbing and electrical company, Gold Medal Service, offers preservation and prevention tips to homeowners to ensure a positive impact on the environment

EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. – August 15, 2017 – Gold Medal Service, a BBB A+ rated heating, cooling, plumbing and electrical service company that services more than 125,000 homeowners throughout New Jersey, offers water quality tips to homeowners during the national observance of Water Quality Month.

“The quality and availability of safe, high quality water affects everybody,” said Joe Todaro, director of operations of Gold Medal Service. “All homeowners have the opportunity to not only provide clean, healthy water for their families, they can take action steps to prevent contamination and help protect fresh water sources – and even potentially save money over time – especially in areas where water quality is problematic. It matters to everyone.”

August is National Water Quality Month, and Gold Medal Service offers the following tips for homeowners to have a positive impact on the environment:

  • Get the facts: Municipal water suppliers provide free information on water quality and particulates, contaminants, bacteria and more. Homeowners are advised to request that information.
  • Practice good water management: Try not to overwater when watering the lawn, washing the car, etc. Using too much water can result in carrying fertilizers and other harmful chemicals into the groundwater, an important source of drinking water, and it costs you money as well.
  • Check for water hardness: Hard water promotes staining and scaling throughout your home’s piping, fixtures, appliances and clothing. A water softener protects against hard water and extends the life of your fixtures and appliances while keeping your clothes looking fresher and cleaner.
  • Manage the drain and drain system: Anti-bacterial soaps or harsh cleaning products can not only damage a drain, they are harmful to the environment. Instead, use non-toxic cleaning agents and household products when possible, and do not dispose of expired or unwanted medicines, anti-freeze or motor oil inside your home or in storm drains.
  • Clean up maintenance messes: It is always important to properly clean up after any boat or car maintenance at the home. To ensure that harmful materials do not wash into the water supply, homeowners can use cat litter and apply it to spills of oil, harsh cleansers, weed killers and such, and then safely dispose of it in the trash.
  • Inquire about a water filtration system: Having a high-quality water filtration system installed by a professional assures you and your family have safe and healthy water for drinking and bathing without the risks associated with contaminants, pollutants and particulates. Not only will your water be better, but there is no longer a need to purchase bottled water which saves you money.
  • Request an in-home water test kit: Testing your home’s water will provide peace of mind year around. Many home services companies, like Gold Medal Service, offer water test kits for free.

“Our core purpose is to help homeowners live in greater safety and comfort, and that includes helping our environment,” Todaro said. “With the help of professionals, New Jersey homeowners can celebrate Water Quality Month by changing a few things around their home and making a real difference.”

For more tips and advice on helping with water quality in and around the home, contact Gold Medal Service at 800-576-GOLD or visit

About Gold Medal Service 
Gold Medal Service was founded in 1994 with a vision to provide homeowners with a reliable and trustworthy home service company customers could count on to fix just about anything that could go wrong in a home. Since then, Gold Medal has grown to include more than 195 Service Expert Technicians, Installers, and employees solving plumbing, heating, cooling, electric, drain, sewer and waterproofing issues for homeowners across the state of New Jersey. Gold Medal Service is a Dave Lennox Award recipient, exclusive to the top 25 Lennox Premier Dealers throughout the Unites States and Canada. For more information, call 800-576-GOLD or visit

How to Fix Slow Drains in the Home | 4 Natural Drain-Cleaning Methods

Friday, August, 18th, 2017 at 6:00 AM by GoldMe12

How to Fix Slow Drains at Home - Drain Cleaning

It’s not good for your pipes or the environment to unclog a sink or shower with harsh drain chemicals. Choosing a naturally biodegradable solution, such as Bio-Clean, or a homemade remedy is not only effective but also responsible.

Natural Home Remedies for Slow Drains

Here are four ways you can potentially clear your clogged drain without having to call a plumber or resort to using harmful chemical drain cleaners:

1. Dish Detergent and Near-Boiling Water

While you may have read or heard about a baking soda, vinegar, and boiling solution for slow drains, it’s actually not a very good idea. Baking soda can be corrosive to your pipes and boiling water may cause pipe distortions. And it’s definitely not a good idea to use a chemical drain cleaner combined with baking soda and vineger, as this can cause a harmful chemical reaction.

Instead, we recommend using regular dish soap and near-boiling water to help clear FOG (fat, oil, grease) clogs. Simply heat up around 2-3 liters of water to a near-boil and stir in a few tablespoons of natural dish detergent. Slowly pour this solution down your slow-running drain, and flush it with some hot tap water for a minute or two. Repeat as necessary.

The dish soap and near-boiling water method is probably best for kitchen drains where FOG buildup is probably the main cause of the clog.

Warning: Do NOT use boiling water. The Uniform Plumbing Code (UPC) requires water to be no hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit in ABS pipes. DOn’t worry about small amounts of boiling water, as when you drain your pasta or dump hot coffee down the drain. This would not be enough to cause any damage to your plumbing.

2. Biological Enzyme Cleaner (Bio-Clean)

We’ve already written about the wonders of Bio-Clean, our pick for biological cleaners for slow drains. It works by using enzymes to biodegrade organic material in your pipes. Each spoonful of Bio-Clean contains millions and millions of bacteria. According to the Bio-Clean website, “each one will eat its weight of waste every 60 seconds.” We like it because it is safe and effective to use on all of your drains.

Bio-Clean works best on organic-based clogs, such as grease, soap, and hair. Simply follow the directions on the package and within the hour you should have clear-running drains again. Use the product at night when the drains aren’t being used.

3. Plunger

Using a plunger on a slow sink drain will help loosen any lodged goop or debris, such as hair. Be sure to cover the sink overflow hole with a rag, creating a seal around the plunger head. Then run a bit of water.

Next, place the plunger over the drain and gently, but with force, plunge up and down for several strokes. If the water drains out, you’ve succeeded in fixing your slow drain. Once the drain has opened up, run hot or near-boiling water down the drain, just as you would with the previous home remedies.

4. Drain Snake

If none of the above methods work, or you do not have the required ingredients at home, you can always try the snake method. If you have a small hand-snake, then you can use this to unclog the drain.

How to use a plunger’s snake:

  1. Put the end of the snake into the drain opening and turn the handle until you feel resistance. You may have to remove the drain trap for the snake to fit.
  2. Continue to turn the handle until you feel it loosen. Sometimes the clog comes out attached to the snake, while other times it flushes down the pipe. The rotating action is what catches or chops up the clog.
  3. If you cannot rotate the snake any further, pull it out. The clog will often come attached with it.
  4. Once you are done, run the hot water full force for a few minutes.
  5. Repeat as necessary.

If you don’t have a plumber’s snake, you can use a long metal wire or bent hanger. Using a long, substantial piece of wire, snake it down into the drain and try to feel where the clog is. Wiggle the wire to loosen it up. Make sure the end of the wire has a little hook to help pull out the clog, which is especially useful for hair clogs. Learn the step-by-step process for unclogging hair clogs in bathroom sinks.

Once you’ve loosened the drain, run hot or boiling water into the drain to help clear out more of the debris.

Clear as you go: Drain Maintenance Tips

Drain clogs happen over time, and are bound to happen eventually. If drains are cleaned periodically, you are less likely to have to deal with a bad clog. Keep your drains flowing with these maintenance tips:

Use drain catchers – catch hair and large objects before they make their way down your drain with drain catchers and guards, sometimes known as hair filters.

Never pour FOG (Fats, Oil or Grease) down a drain – grease and fats should never be put down your drains or garbage disposals. This is one of the most common sources of drain clogs and “fatbergs” in municipal plumbing systems. Learn what you should never put down garbage disposals.

Weekly hot water cleanse – Once a week or so, pour a large pot of near-boiling water down the drain. This will flush the drain keeping debris from building up into an inconvenient clog.

Monthly enzyme bath – Using an enzymatic cleaner will keep your drains clean and clear. Enzyme cleaners break down organic matter, melt away grease buildup and keep your drain from a slow flow.

Protect your disposals – Throw some ice cubes or citrus peels down the disposal for a fresh way to clean and sharpen your disposal blades. When your disposal is working well, your kitchen sink is less likely to clog.

If one drain is clogged, then your plumbing problem is centralized. But if many of your drains are running slow, then there may be a bigger issue with your septic tank. If you think your septic tank may be backing up, contact a professional at Gold Medal Service to perform plumbing repair on your sewage and drain system.

5-Year Clog Free Guarantee

$93 Drain Cleaning or It's FREE for NJ

To help keep you safe and save you money, Gold Medal’s Total Care Club ensures that your home’s plumbing, electrical, and HVAC systems are safe and up-to-code.

We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (holidays included) to assist you with any problem you may have (electricalplumbingwaterproofingHVAC, and more).

Stay connected with us on FacebookTwitter, and Google+ for more useful information and advice for your home.

AFCIs, GFCIs, and 2017 National Electrical Code Requirements

Friday, August, 11th, 2017 at 6:00 AM by GoldMe12

AFCIs, GFCIs, and 2017 National Electrical Code (NEC) Requirements

If you are familiar with the National Electrical Code (NEC), you know that there is a lot of specific information regarding the setup and installation of lights and electrical circuits. The NEC is the national standard adopted by all 50 states for safe electrical installation and inspection to protect people and property from common electrical mishaps.

Every three years, the NEC gets updated. It’s a living document. Changes normally include more specific and easier-to-understand language, as well as new and deleted safety requirements.

Despite the fact the NEC is constantly being updated, states have to adopt each new version of their own accord.

State-by-State Adoption of the National Electrical Code (NEC) 

Source: Electrical Safety Foundation International (ESFI)

For more information on NEC adoption, visit

In the newly updated 2017 version of the National Electrical Code, there are many updates that involve ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) and arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs).

Whenever installing or modifying your lighting or electrical equipment, it’s important to hire a professional electrician who follows all electrical codes.

Ground-Fault Circuit Interrupters (2017 NEC Update)

Ground-fault circuit interrupters prevent shocks and electrocutions by shutting off power when a leaking current is detected. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates that around 50% of home electrocutions have been prevented by working GFCIs.

Circuits requiring GFCI protection are designated by the National Electrical Code. GFCI protection coverage has continued to increase every year.

Here are some of the new 2017 changes to the National Electrical Code regarding GFCIs:

210.1 Scope – GFCI & AFCI Overview

Article 210 provides a general overview of GFCI and AFCI protection.

210.8(A) – GFCI Locations and Measurements

In article 210.8, new information has been added about measuring and increasing GFCI requirements, including new requirements for three-phase circuits, unfinished basements, and crawl spaces.

New language in the 2017 NEC states that when determining distance from a receptacle (such as distance from a sink or tub), distance should be measured “as the shortest path the cord of an appliance connected to the receptacle would follow without piercing a floor, wall, ceiling, or fixed barrier, or passing through a door, doorway, or window.”

While most qualified electricians were already measuring distance this way, it’s good to have official clarification.

210.8(B) – Expanded GFCI Protection (More than dwelling units)

GFCI protection is now required for larger circuits and some additional locations. The requirements for GFCI protection in dwelling units has expanded to include 250-volt, single-phase receptacles that are 50 amperes or less, in addition to the existing requirements for all 125-volt receptacles. This change helps protect against shocks and electrocutions for higher voltage receptacles.

Two new locations for GFCI protection have been added:

  • 210.8(B)(9) was added for crawlspaces at or below grade level
  • 210.8(B)(10) was added for unfinished portions or areas of the basement not intended as habitable rooms

Source: International Association of Electrical Inspectors

As of the 2017 NEC Update, GFCIs are required in all of the following areas:

  • Underwater pool lighting (since 1968)
  • Outdoors (since 1973)
  • Bathrooms (since 1975)
  • Garages (since 1978)
  • Kitchens (since 1987)
  • Crawl spaces and unfinished basements (since 1990)
  • Wet bar sinks (since 1993)
  • Laundry and utility sinks (since 2005)
  • Crawlspaces at or below grade level (2017)
  • Unfinished areas of the basement (2017)

Source: Consumer Product Safety Commission

Ground fault circuit interrupters are installed into receptacles or directly into the electrical panel to protect your electrical system from ground faults caused by wetness and moisture.

Make sure you have working GFCI receptacles for all the areas listed above. We highly recommend testing your GFCI outlets and/or breakers every month to ensure they are in good working condition. Don’t forget about your outdoor receptacles, which should all have working ground fault circuit protection.

How to Test a GFCI

  1. Press down on the RESET Button.
  2. Make sure something is plugged in (a light, or similar device).
  3. Make sure the device/light is on.
  4. Press down on the TEST button.
  5. The device should turn off.
  6. Press down on the RESET button to turn power back on.
  7. The device should turn on.

The test button should turn the power off; pressing the reset button should turn the power back on again. If pressing the test button does not cut off power to the outlet, your GFCI is not working properly. Call a certified electrician to take a look.

GFCI protection can be installed directly at the breaker box or it can be installed at each individual outlet. For the best protection, we recommend installing GFCI protection at the breaker box for whole-home ground fault protection.

Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupters (2017 NEC Update)

The 2017 NEC Update has increased the requirements for arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs). Before 2008, AFCIs were only required to protect bedrooms. As of 2017, AFCI requirements have greatly expanded.

Here are some of the new 2017 changes to the National Electrical Code regarding AFCIs:

210.1 Scope – GFCI & AFCI Overview

Article 210 provides a general overview of GFCI and AFCI protection.

210.12 – AFCI Protection Requirements

AFCI requirements have been revised to include AFCI protection for all 120-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits. The list of areas where AFCI protection was removed and replaced by a requirement for the entire dwelling unit. This includes guest rooms, dormitory bathrooms, and the circuits supplying outlets and devices.

To make sure your home is complying with the updated NEC, it’s best to install whole-home AFCI protection directly at the electrical panel. Speak with a qualified electrician.

406.4 – General Installation Requirements

Clarification was added about the rule that requires AFCI protection for replacement receptacles.

550.25 – Mobile Homes

AFCI protection for mobile homes mirror the AFCI requirements for dwellings in 210.12.

AFCIs provide protection against electrical fires. Make sure they are working properly by testing them every month.

How to Test an AFCI

  1. Test AFCIs when the power is on
  2. Find and open up your electrical panel.
  3. With the breaker in the ON position, press the TEST button.
  4. The breaker should trip.
  5. If the breaker trips, your AFCI protection is working.
  6. Turn your breaker on by flipping it all the way OFF and then back ON again.

If pressing the TEST button does not trip the breaker, your AFCI is not working properly. Contact a qualified electrician to replace the AFCI.

Additional 2017 Updates to the National Electrical Code:

Listing of Equipment – new rules about who may list electrical equipment and how they should be listed (reconditioned, refurbished, or remanufactured).

Conductor Termination and Splicing – when torqueing terminal connections, the torque wrench must be properly calibrated.

Conductor Ampacity – changes have been made to the rules establishing conductor ampacities, such as cable bundling and dwelling service conductor sizing.

Conductors Connected in Parallel – there are new requirements for grouping parallel conductors.

Grounding Conductor – some air conditioning installations now require a wire-type equipment grounding conductor.

Electric Shock Drowning Signs – boat docks and marinas are now required to display a warning sign about electric shock drowning.

Tamper-Resistant Receptacles – locations requiring tamper-resistant receptacles have been greatly expanded.

If you have children at home, we highly recommend installing tamper-resistant receptacles around the home. Those plastic outlet caps are ineffective. One study found that 100% of 2-4 year olds were able to remove the outlet caps within 10 seconds. TRRs are tamper-proof. Learn more about tamper-resistant receptacles here.

More Electrical Safety Information:

For more information on electrical safety and how to protect your home and family from common electrical dangers, contact Gold Medal Service.

What is a Heat Pump and How Does it Work?

Friday, August, 4th, 2017 at 6:00 AM by GoldMe12

What is a Heat Pump and How Does It Work?

People that aren’t in the HVAC business tend not to know the specifics of the systems in their home. If you don’t know what a heat pump is, let alone how it works, don’t worry—most people don’t!

Do you know that heat pumps can be used as an alternative to your air conditioner? That’s because both a heat pump and cooling appliances, such as your refrigerator, follow a similar process. Heat pumps can also be used for both heating and cooling.

Generally, here’s how a heat pump operates: In the winter, a heat pump will pull heat energy from the outside into your home to heat it. In the summer, a heat pump will pull heat from inside your home and pump it to the outdoors.

Heat pumps will either collect heat from the air, water, or ground outside; then concentrate it for use inside your home. It essentially transfers heat energy in order to either heat or cool a space. Think of a heat pump as an air conditioner that can also work in reverse to provide heating as well.

In the winter

But wait; let’s back up. Did we just say that a heat pump extracts warmth from the chilly winter air in order to heat your home? How is that even possible?

In the winter, a heat pump works like a reverse air conditioner. An air conditioner extracts heat from the space. The heat is then absorbed into the indoor unit’s refrigerant. Refrigerant then transfers the heat to the outdoor A/C unit where it is finally pushed outside.

A heat pump uses a similar process, just in reverse, pulling from out to in, rather than in to out. When it comes to a heat pump, believe it or not, heat can be extracted even during freezing temperatures. In the winter, a heat pump takes heat from the outdoor air and brings it in to heat your home.

When you understand what refrigerant does, it’s easier to understand how a heat pump works. Refrigerant changes from liquid to gas. Heat pumps use refrigerant to absorb and release heat energy, pressurizing the gas to heat it up and depressurizing the gas to cool it down.

There are several different types of heat pumps:

  • Air-source heat pumps
  • Ductless mini-split heat pumps
  • Geothermal heat pumps
  • Absorption heat pumps

A huge benefit of heat pumps is that they are highly efficient. And when a major appliance is efficient, your bills are going to be lower.

This is good to know, especially in the summer when energy bills tend to be higher than anticipated.

In the summer

In the summer, a heat pump will work differently than it does in the winter, but still relies on the method of absorbing heat. Using the evaporator of the indoor unit, a heat pump releases indoor heat to the outdoor unit.

Liquid coolant (aka refrigerant) goes to the evaporator, becomes depressurized and then turns into a gas. When refrigerant changes state from liquid to gas, the temperature changes. The gas gets cold and absorbs the heat inside your home. It then gets pushed to your compressor in the outdoor unit where it shifts back to a hot liquid.

The cycle continues as the hot coolant now goes through the outdoor condenser coils as a powerful fan kicks on. The air flows over the condenser coils, releasing heat energy to the outdoor environment. Once the refrigerant heat has been released outdoors, the refrigerant simply cools back down and recycles back to the evaporator. This process continues over and over.

Maintain your heat pump

Here are some tips to keep your heat pump efficient for years to come:

  1. Filters should be replaced every 30-60 days
  2. Bi-annual professional HVAC maintenance will ensure top performance and safety (annual cooling maintenance in the spring and heating maintenance in the fall)
  3. Keep the area around your heat pump clean to avoid blockage (a minimum of 2-foot clearance is recommended)
  4. Providing shade with trees and trellises can improve the efficiency of your heat pump

Learn more HVAC maintenance tips here.

The best way to keep up your heat pump operating at peak efficiency levels is to sign up for a Maintenance Service Plan.

Spare yourself the massive headache and a pretty penny by spending a little time completing DIY HVAC maintenance.

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