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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States

8605895155

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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Articles

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

 

Trend Alert - Skylights Are Making a Comeback

Chelsea O'Donnell

Lately, I have had a lot of requests from homeowners who want to cover up their skylights. Once enjoyed for extra sun and brightness, people are becoming increasingly worried that skylights let too much heat and air escape and they believe that covering them over will be less costly than replacing them. While skylights were once the cherry on the top of a contemporary design, they now seem to be falling out of fashion. So what’s the deal on this once must-have home trend? Let’s take a closer look.

Residential skylights became popular several decades ago as people craved more natural light-filled spaces, especially in home styles with high ceilings. The luxury of being able to see the clouds became a bit of an interior design status symbol and their popularity skyrocketed. But today, as homeowners are having to replace their 30-year roofs, the idea of skylights aren’t as appealing as they used to be. In fact, many people think that closing their skylights up would be cheaper than replacing them. Unfortunately, what many homeowners don’t realize is that the work involved in properly covering a skylight is actually much more of an expense than it’s worth.

Today, there are tons of new options to make skylights more versatile than ever before. Many now come with solar panels to maximize energy efficiency and some also offer inclement weather sensors, enabling them to close automatically when the first raindrop hits. Speaking of closing, one of my favorite features of a skylight is the ability to let fresh air in, which contributes to a home’s balance of moisture and overall ventilation. This also enables humidity and stale air to be released, creating a more comfortable natural air flow.

Many people who once loved the idea of skylights now complain that they can’t control the light, which is luckily a problem of the past. Today’s blinds include total blackout and filtering options which are often controlled remotely through solar batteries that don’t need to be hard wired. This gives homeowners much more flexibility in terms of controlling the light that comes into their homes, making skylights a fully customizable feature.

Lastly, of course, there is the question of energy efficiency. About 10 years ago, a law was passed allowing homeowners to receive a tax credit on the purchase and installation of renewable technology products, which means that certain skylights might get you a solar energy rebate of up to 30%. Of course, it’s important to do your homework to ensure that the product you're considering will qualify before you make the purchase.

So before you go trying to patch up the holes in your roof and ceiling, have a look at all the new options available for skylights. Between the versatility, energy efficiency, and the beauty of natural light, this once popular and nearly dying trend is getting ready to see a major resurgence.  

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com 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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Don't Let Rodents Move In During These Colder Months

Chelsea O'Donnell

It’s the time of year when one particularly pesky problem nearly always arises. This reader’s question sums it up nicely.

“When the colder weather sets in, I sometimes get mice or rats in my house. I assume they are looking for a warm place to settle in and find food, but they aren’t welcome here! How can I deter them this year?”


My reader is right - her rodent problem absolutely has to do with the little buggers looking for a nice warm place to hide out from the winter weather and to grab a meal while they’re at it. So before you have to make a call to the local exterminator, here are a few simple tips to reduce the chances of furry friends making a home in yours.

Firstly, seal off the premises. Make sure doors and screens are always closed tight, and look for breaks, rips or holes that lead outside Generally caulk is a good sealant, but weather stripping around windows and installing new door sweeps on doors will keep insects and small animals out and will do double duty by helping to insulate your home for winter.

For bigger areas such as the chimney, you can use a thick wire mesh to keep the critters out, just make sure the material is thick enough that it can’t be chewed through. Believe it or not, a mouse can get through a hole the size of a dime, so be diligent in your search for entry points.

Another tip is to make sure you don’t leave any food lying around. Mice and rats are pretty resilient to the cold, but they have to eat to survive and looking for a meal in your house is a lot easier than trying to find one outside in the cold. Many pet owners leave animal food out for long periods of time, which makes a delicious meal for a rodent. If a mouse can get into your house, the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to stay. Keep that food, pet or otherwise, sealed up tight.

If you have a garden that thrives through the autumn, that’s most likely where your rodents are coming from. They are smart, and they’ll be waiting to dart through your door at a moment’s notice. As a general rule of thumb, keep edible plants at least a few feet from any door, and the same goes for your garbage bins.

If your home is susceptible to rodents and you’ve tried to get rid of them with no luck, you might want to consider having the problem dealt with by a pest control professional. There are plenty of traps, sprays, and natural solutions on the market, but using the wrong deterrent might drive pests up into the walls where they can start chewing on wires and causing long-term, more expensive damage.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com 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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Wood, Pellet, or Gas? What is the Best Solution for a Home Heating Stove?

Chelsea O'Donnell

A beautiful fireplace adds both warmth and ambiance to any home, especially as the days get cooler and we begin spending more time indoors. Back in the day, the only option for a fireplace was one that burned wood, but now we have several options to keep us toasty - each with their benefits and drawbacks. If you’re thinking about upgrading your fireplace or trying something new, here are a few things to consider.

Wood

The classic choice. There are so many reasons to love wood from the traditional crackling sound that it makes to the hypnotic dancing of natural flames. I consider wood to be the fastest heater for the money in that you can quickly warm up a home without having to worry about your electricity bills. Another reason to love wood is if you have it. For rural or wooded area homes that need an annual clean-up, your fuel is free as long as you don’t mind the man hours. Think of it as a great workout.

Of course with the pros comes the cons. If you don’t have wood readily available, it can get very expensive. If you do, you still have to cut and stack it yourself. It also needs to stay dry in order to light reliably. Wood is also pretty messy and while those piles can look great if they are well constructed, they are also perfect homes for rodents, termites, and mold. Finally, there is the efficiency factor. Wood burns hot and fast and regulating temperature is a lot tougher than other heating methods. It also emits particles into the air, which could affect people with breathing problems or asthma. And of course, there is also the need for a chimney which may make it prohibitive for some people.

Pellet

A pellet fireplace or stove uses small, compressed cylinders of sawdust to heat the home. What’s great about pellet stoves is that they are temperature regulated and don’t require a traditional chimney since many stoves use blowers to circulate heat. Another reason to love them is their efficiency. Because heat can be regulated and pellets are easier to maneuver, most homeowners can expect a cleaner, less labor intensive burn.

Of course, pellet stoves have a few negative aspects to also consider. While cleaner burning than wood, pellets are made from sawdust, which will bother people who are sensitive to dust, dander, and pollen. Similar to wood, there is also ash to consider, which needs to be dumped regularly to keep the fire burning efficiently. Pellet stoves are generally more intricate than a wood fireplace, which means there is more to clean and maintain. Finally, most stoves run on electricity which means you’re paying for both the pellets and the energy to burn them.

Natural Gas

Natural gas fireplaces have become one of the most popular options today, mainly because a unit can be fit into an existing fireplace or practically anywhere in the home. People love gas because it’s fast to heat, easy to control, and doesn’t require a chimney or electricity. Simply set the temperature you want and you’re ready to go. In comparison to wood or pellets, natural gas emits the least amount of particles, making it a popular choice for people who have breathing sensitivities. As long as your house already has natural gas, the set up is really easy and you don’t have to worry about buying anything to burn to keep your home warm.

While natural gas does tick plenty of boxes, there are a few things to think about. Admittedly, natural gas flames are the most boring and predictable, making it the least ambiance-friendly option of the three. Of course, you’re also burning a fossil fuel, which is inexpensive right now but can always go up. Finally, if you don’t already have a gas line, you’ll need to get one installed, which might end up being more of a hassle than it’s worth. Just another thing to think about but one that’s well worth considering.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions to info@odonnellbros.com 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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.