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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


Since 1975, O'Donnell Bros has been providing greater Bristol and Central Connecticut with residential and commercial remodeling solutions. We specialize in roofing, siding, windows, doors, gutters, downspouts and so much more. We look forward to helping you with all your remodeling needs. 

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O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.


Rent a Pressure Washer for the Day and Clean All Around the House

Chelsea O'Donnell

I think we can all agree that no one likes chores, especially cleaning. This time of year is especially tough since we want our yard and garden to look its best despite the pollen that just keeps on coming. Luckily, I have a trick that will help you make light of all the hard work around the house - heck you might even have a little fun.

The secret, my friends, is the pressure washer! I am lucky enough to own one of these handy machines but you can grab one for yourself for between $30-40 for the day and say goodbye to dirt, mold, and caked on debris. Here are just a few of my favorite ways to use it.

The Patio. The winter can be tough on stone or concrete patios and wood decks, but months worth of dirt is no match for a pressure washer. Forget the sweeping and scrubbing - a once over with a 2,000 pounds per square inch machine will have your backyard looking as good as new. If you’re thinking about refinishing your surfaces, make this your first step to get everything as clean as possible. Just leave plenty of drying time.

The Patio Furniture. Once the deck is done, the patio furniture is next. I store mine in the shed over the winter, but even in storage, everything tends to get a bit grimy and moldy with the moisture in the air. I love pulling everything out, wetting it down, and giving it a good scrub with some Spray Nine. Because it doesn’t contain any corrosive chemicals, you can use it right in the grass without having to worry about killing your lawn. Rinse with the pressure washer and your furniture will sparkle.

The Car. A car wash is convenient but they never quite get into the nooks and crannies like you can if you’re doing it yourself. Of course, a manual wash is time-consuming and with the pollen in the air, it’s nearly impossible to keep the car clean for longer than a few days. This is another reason why I love the pressure washer! It gets grease and gunk right off the tires and tough to reach places and it’s so easy and fast! Just be sure to use a lighter setting such as 1,400 PSI so you don’t dent the exterior.

The House. I love vinyl siding because it’s so low maintenance, but it’s not a bad idea to give the house a good spray down every once in a while. A pressure washer can be used everywhere from the roof to the shutters and will make your siding looks like it’s brand new again. It’s just as easy as using a hose, but so much more effective. You can use it on brick or stone exteriors too - and don’t forget the windows!

The Gutters. If you’re getting up on the roof, you mind as well get the gunk out of those gutters. A pressure washer makes this job easy but the clean-up from the ground can be a bit of a mess so make sure that you look for an angled attachment that will help you control the debris. If you can get it all towards the downspout, you can either run it through and down or pull everything out in easier to manage sections.

One thing to remember before renting your pressure washer is that they do come in either electric or gas models. Electric machines are generally reserved for lighter jobs around the house while gas models have a bit more oomph. Before you choose your machine, make sure to chat with an expert at the store about what kind of jobs you have in mind. Too much power might damage your goods; too little will make you wish you stuck to the hose and saved yourself a few bucks.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only.

Keep Pests at Bay with These All Natural Repellents

Chelsea O'Donnell

I don’t know about you, but this early summer seems worse than ever for pests of every kind. Homeowners are struggling with ants in the house and even my yard has more chipmunks than I’ve seen in recent memory. Lots of people I speak to are determined to get rid of their newfound neighbors, but many don’t want to resort to environmentally damaging chemicals or toxic ingredients in the home. So what can we do?

Let’s get those pests in check! I’ve rounded up a bunch of my favorite all natural repellents and deterrents to reduce the unwanted company in and around your home without putting toxins or pollutants into the environment. Let’s check them out.

Hot Pepper - for unwanted garden bugs, hot pepper is a fantastic solution. Simmer three tablespoons of red chili flakes or five finely chopped fresh jalapenos in a large pan of water for 15 minutes. Let it sit for a day and then strain the mixture into a spray bottle with a few drops of dish soap.

Coffee - did you know that coffee is fatal to ants? If you can find where they are entering your home, you can use recycled grounds to deter them. Simply place them in a shallow bowl or bag right at the entry point. One sniff and they’ll be doing a one-eighty.

Mint and Garlic - this is another garden concoction that you can use as a plant spray. Blitz a few garlic cloves and mint leaves in a food processor and then boil it with some cayenne pepper. Add a few drops of dish soap to the spray bottle and pour in your solution for a simple, effective plant spray.

Cornmeal - if you have pets, cornmeal is an easy non-toxic remedy for ants. Put a small dish or a plastic cover full near their entry point and the ants will soon start to carry it away to their colony. They love to eat it, but can’t digest it. Problem solved.

Rosemary - I love balmy summer evening in the backyard but I can’t stand mosquitoes! Citronella is a common natural deterrent but if you don’t have any handy, try throwing some rosemary or sage on your firepit. It smells wonderful to us but mosquitos can’t stand it.

Basil - if you get flies coming in and out of the house every time someone opens the door, trying potted basil. The flies will immediately retreat in their tracks and you’ll have plenty of fresh leaves for a delicious pesto. If you’re worried about pots getting kicked over and making a mess, a vital of basil essential oil will do the trick too.

Cayenne pepper - this is probably your best bet for a chipmunk problem. Just like other pests, chipmunks are very sensitive to the smell and taste of hot peppers and they’ll go out of their way to avoid it. A generous spray of cayenne and water or oil solution around your immediate garden should help to deter them from hanging around.

Do you have a favorite all-natural solution that gets rid of the pests at your home? I’d love to hear about it. Email me or send me a message on Facebook at

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only.

How to Deal with Water and Mold Before They Take Hold of Your Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

Mold is a problem that most homeowners have to deal with at one time or another. It’s the damaging by-product of water and moisture that can wreak havoc on your home, and more importantly, your health. So with summer on the way, now is a good time to inspect your house for mold and get rid of it before it does any kind of serious damage. But first, it’s a good idea to learn a little more about this pesky organism and why it demands to be treated so seriously.

You might be familiar with mold (otherwise known as mildew) from your shower or bathtub. Since the shower is often wet and the tiles are waterproof, water can sometimes seep into the grout, which, if it’s old and can’t handle its repelling duties properly, will become a breeding ground for mildew. So you’re left with microscopic organisms that feed off the moisture, allowing it to grow until you nail it with some Tilex and wait for the next clean. But what happens when mold starts to grow in the places you can’t reach to scrub – places like your ceiling, inside walls or attic? You’re probably saying, “Not in my house”. Well, guess again.

At least half the homes I visit for improvement and remodeling projects have a major mold problem and the owners don’t even know it. How? Because mold generally grows in places that you can’t see – like inside the walls and in the attic. What most people don’t realize is that mold reproduces, or grows, by releasing spores that you’re breathing in day after day.

How common is this? If you’ve ever had a leak, you’ve most likely had a mold problem. So what can you do about it? You can prevent mold by ensuring your home stays dry. Here are my top tips:

  1. Keep your gutters and downspouts clean and clear so water can drain away from your house.
  2. Don’t let a leaky roof go unfixed.  Get it patched up immediately and ask your contractor to inspect for any mold growth.
  3. Make sure the ground around your house doesn’t slope inward towards the foundation where water can idle.
  4. Inside the house, beware of any discoloration in the ceiling.
  5. Ensure high moisture areas like bathrooms are well ventilated with good ceiling fans.
  6. If a leak has poured into the carpet, don’t just leave it to dry. A damp area can attract mold in less than 48 hours.
  7. Ensure large appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines aren’t leaking and have a catchment tray in the event of a malfunction.
  8. If you use a humidifier, make sure it’s cleaned and the water is changed regularly.
  9. If you feel that your house or basement has a high level of moisture, consider purchasing a dehumidifier to regulate the humidity and remove any excess moisture from the air.

If you’ve had a mold problem that you’ve tried to control by scraping, cleaning and repainting the area, don’t make the same mistake twice. If the mold keeps coming back, that means the issue runs deeper than the eye can see. It’s time to call in the pros.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions for Bob to with the subject line “Ask the Pro.” All questions may be considered for publication. To contact Bob for your remodeling needs, call O’Donnell Bros. Inc. at (860) 589-5155 or visit Advice is for guidance only