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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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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.

 

Filtering by Category: Insulation

What To Do With Icicles in the Attic

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week I visited a homeowner who called me after he went up into his attic early one morning to get his Christmas decorations and he was shocked to find tiny icicles hanging from the rafters!  As the cold begins to set in, I suspect that many people in our area will start to see the same problem, so let’s dive right into the cause and the solution.

It might be hard to believe that icicles can form inside the house, but in many older homes that lack proper insulation and ventilation, the attic can become a magnet for condensation, which will freeze when it gets cold enough and the moisture has nowhere to go.

We all know that heat rises, and when we heat our homes in the winter, a lot of that warm air moves up through our ceilings and into the attic, rising all the way up to where it should be able to pass through the vents to the outside. However, if those vents aren’t working properly, the condensation and air have nowhere to go, so it collects on any cold surface below the dew point and turns into frost. After a while, this frost builds up to form icicles. The more moisture that builds up in the attic, the worse the problem will become. As temperatures rise and that ice and frost start to melt, it can saturate your insulation with water, causing mold and mildew problems as well as potential leaks in your ceiling. What’s worse is this isn’t even just a winter problem. Condensation build up can cause issues in your attic all year long.

So how do you stop the condensation from forming? Your first move is to look for sources that are pushing excess warm air into the attic. If you have a whole house fan, it’s a wise move to cover it as the louvers will be letting your valuable heat escape. Bathroom fans are another sure bet for letting air through and they will cause major condensation issues if they are blowing into the attic instead of venting directly outside. Finally, make sure your folding stairway is covered over with an insulated box or weather stripping to avoid losing that extra heat.

While sealing off places that allow excess heat to get into the attic is a great idea, the one thing you never want to do is seal off your attic vents. Attic ventilation is a system which includes intake vents in the soffit and exhaust vents at the roof’s ridge. If these vents get sealed or blocked, there is nowhere for the condensation to go, so it gets trapped and can easily manifest into a leak. Believe it or not, the average family of four generates two gallons of water vapor each day from cooking, cleaning, showering, laundry, and breathing. If that water is left sitting in the attic, you’re going to have a problem.

With colder temperatures settling in, now is a great time to take a look up in your attic to see if you have any frost or icicles culminating in your home. Next week I’ll tell you more about how to properly ventilate and insulate an attic to make sure your property isn’t prone to leaks and other condensation-based damage in the future.  

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 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 www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Smart Jobs For Homeowners To Beat the Winter Blues

Chelsea O'Donnell

While temperatures have been pretty comfortable this past week, there is no denying that winter is on the way. With mornings in the 30’s and 40’s, I think it’s time to start talking about what we should be doing to get our homes ready for the cold before it actually comes. So without further ado, here are my top five tips:

Take a picture of your roof.

We’ll start with an easy one. Go outside and snap a photo of your roof from each direction. Wondering why? When we get a massive snowfall, I always recommend for people to get their roofs shoveled. Removing the snow helps to reduce the risk of leaks and other damage to your home. But when the snow is very deep, it’s impossible to see the pipes, skylights and other parts and pieces that stick up out of the roof. Keeping a picture of the clean surface is a great way to minimize the probability of an accident when you’re trying to prevent damage in the first place.

Mark the driveway.

Speaking of damage prevention, stop by the local hardware store and get some property markers. They are generally made of wood or metal and are sometimes painted in a fluorescent color. Use the markers to create an outline around your driveway. Just like your roof, when a blanket of snow hits, it’s impossible for a removalist to see where the driveway ends and where your lawn begins. Creating that parameter will help the snow plow truck operator know where to go, which should assist in keeping your curbs and grass intact.

Give the furnace a checkup.

If you haven’t put the heat on yet, you will soon. Don’t wait until you really need it to make sure that everything is in working order. Clean or replace your HVAC filters and check the temperature gauge to make sure you can power up and down with no problems. Also, now is the time to remove those window A/C units and check and clean those filters too. While you’re at it, make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working and change the batteries if necessary.

Seal up the air holes.

I get calls all winter long from people who are wondering why their house is so drafty. If you have an attic hatch, install an insulated box to prevent the cold air from coming down into your living space. Check all your windows and doors for gaps and use weatherstripping, foam, or insulation to seal it tight. If you have a fireplace that you don’t use, get that covered too. Any passageways from the inside to the outside can act as wind tunnels when the frigid winter air comes calling.

Clean those gutters.

We will have a few weeks of falling leaves before the deep freeze, but please don’t leave your gutters clogged to the hilt with debris. If you don’t clean your gutters, it will prevent winter water from flowing off the roof and down away from the foundation. If water has nowhere to go, it will refreeze in your gutters and at the base of your roof, resulting in dangerous ice dams and potential leaks. If you don’t want to do this dirty job yourself, schedule a pro to handle it for you. It will be worth it.

If you do just these five things, you’ll be in much better shape when the wicked weather decides to come our way. Plus it’s much more pleasant to get these jobs out of the way before it’s too cold and snowy to bother. Good luck and as always, don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help or advice.

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.

10 End of Summer Jobs for a Fantastic Fall

Chelsea O'Donnell

Summer may be coming to a close, but with the first day of autumn still a few weeks away, there is plenty of time to get your home and yard in tip-top shape before the cooler weather sets in. With the countdown on, I’ve rounded up the most important jobs for you to tackle to get ready for the fall. Let’s get busy!

Clean windows and inspect for gaps.

If you have window A/C units, tackle this job as you’re removing them. Windows are a prime culprit for heat loss, so have a look at all the windows in your home to see if you have any gaps. Small cracks and crevices can be sealed with caulk, but you’ll want to fill larger gaps with insulation or expandable foam. If you have single pane aluminum windows and you’re freezing every winter, it might be time for an upgrade.

Clean and store outdoor furniture.

If furniture is left outdoors during the winter, it will likely crack, split or rust depending on the material.  Before you turn it in for the winter, be sure to clean it well to avoid rot or damage and check for signs of mold and mildew. A thorough wash with hot soapy water or household cleaner will do the trick.

Reseal your deck.

The summer sun can be brutal on your deck, but so is the onset of snow, sleet, and freezing rain that we can expect over the next several months. Protect your wood by removing any leaves, sticks and those pesky helicopters, and follow it up with a good power wash. When the wood is dry, apply a protective sealant to condition the deck and help it stand up to winter.

Inspect your doors and apply weatherstripping.

Just like your windows, your doors are prime areas for air leaks. Inspect the areas around your doors and make sure they are airtight by repairing any old weatherstripping or broken door sweeps. Heating a home all winter costs a lot of money so don’t make it more expensive than it should be. An energy efficient home is a happy home.

Patch that leaky roof.

If the summer rain uncovered a leak in your ceiling or attic, don’t wait to have it looked at. The unpredictable winter can be a disaster for a roof that’s already damaged, so don’t hold out until it’s too late. Often times a small repair can stop the problem in its tracks.

Clean your gutters and check for clogs.

We’re in for a stellar leaf peeping season, but for homeowners that also means a lot of headaches in the clean-up department. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are prepared for the seasonal shed and flush everything through to ensure the water flow-through is up to par.

Get adequate insulation.

If you’re dreading another teeth-chattering winter, it’s time to add some insulation to your home. Over 75 percent of the houses that I visit in our area don’t have enough insulation and because of it, I get too many calls from frozen homeowners wondering what they can do. Insulation is inexpensive to install, can be done in less than a day and adds more to the resale value of your home than any other project. This one is a no-brainer.

Scrub out your garbage cans.

As the cold sets in, our furry friends get more desperate for food and will start visiting your trash looking for a free meal. Their sense of smell is uncanny so make sure your bins are cleaned out and future garbage is bagged properly. You don’t want rodents making their homes too close to yours.

Replace your air filters.

If your A/C has been cranking all summer, it’s a great time to clean and/or replace your air filtration systems. While you’re at it, have a look at all your vents including the dryer and remove any built-up debris. The harder those appliances have to work, the more they are going to cost you.

Inspect the hot water heater.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Check your water heater for any decay or sediment build-up and be on the lookout for leaks or faulty pipes. If you have an inkling that the unit might be on the fritz, call in a pro for a routine inspection. It’s better to be safe than sorry come winter.

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.