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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.

 

Filtering by Category: Roofs

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.

Moisture Problem Under the Roof? Look to Your Plywood For Answers

Chelsea O'Donnell

I just finished a job for a homeowner, who after 30 years, was in need of a new roof. After removing the old roof, I brought his attention to something that was no surprise to me but came as a shock to him. All the plywood was completely rotted and I don’t mean just a sheet or two. The roof was hiding an entire houseful of black, rotten wood.

The homeowner couldn’t believe it. He asked me how the plywood could be so damaged if he had never had a roof leak. The answer is quite simple and a lot more common than you think. The reason this house had so much damage is the same reason that three-quarters of the roofs I replace need new plywood. The attics don’t have enough insulation and aren’t well ventilated which can easily cause deterioration from the inside out instead of the other way around.

With a roof, airflow is absolutely crucial. Attic ventilation allows your home to “breathe” by taking in the air and letting it out. Too many homes that I work in aren’t properly ventilated, in fact, most have their house vents going into the attic instead of outside! Bathroom vents are often directed into the attic and some people even point their dryer vents into the void. All of that additional moisture has nowhere to go, so it gets trapped and absorbed by the wood. After years of decay, the plywood is no longer solid like it should be.

In the colder months, I even see frost on the plywood in the attic because it’s not properly ventilated and it’s certainly not insulated. Insulation and ventilation work hand in hand - the ventilation controls the air flow and the insulation controls the temperature. You’re probably familiar with insulation - it’s is a cotton-looking fiberglass material that often comes in pink or yellow rolls. It can also be loose-filled into tough to reach areas with a blowing machine. Remodeling professionals use insulation between walls, in attics and in basements to retain heat in the house in the winter and keep it cooler in the summer. However, without proper ventilation, the insulation is just as susceptible to moisture and deterioration as the plywood.

My customer didn’t venture into his attic, so he never noticed the problem. What he thought was a simple roof replacement ended up being a bigger job simply because, after years of decay, the plywood he had was no longer strong enough to properly support the new roof. Ignoring the problem would have voided the roof’s 30-year warranty.

The lesson for this week? If you’re going to reroof your home, make sure that the plywood is healthy and that your contractor has given you a thorough plan to ensure that your home is properly insulated and ventilated. It might cost a bit more today, but it will regulate the heat and cooling in your home for years to come, saving you on energy costs and giving you more comfort as well as peace of mind for the health of your house.

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.

 

Keeping Cool as the Temperature Rises

Chelsea O'Donnell

Mother Nature has decided to turn that heat dial up this weekend, leaving many people with nothing to do but crank up the air conditioning. Sure, a little A/C is a great way to provide fast relief, but keeping it blowing all summer long can do a number on your energy bill and your home. So this week I thought I’d put together a few simple tips to help you keep cool, but first, here is a story that might make you rethink your current set up.

A few years ago, I was called to a house in Bristol for a leak repair. When I got to the home, I found that the entire ceiling had fallen onto the dining room table. We hadn’t had rain for weeks, so I was confused how the leak occurred. It turns out that the home had no insulation or ventilation, and to combat the stifling heat seeping into the house from the attic, the homeowner had two window air conditioning units set on full blast all day. The cold air from the units and the hot air from the attic created so much moisture and mold that it completely deteriorated the plaster, causing the ceiling to fall in.

Having little or no insulation and ventilation in the attic will heat up your home like you wouldn’t believe. Most people think insulation and ventilation are only important in the winter, but they work as regulators, controlling air in both the warmer and colder months. Did you know that an attic can easily get up to 150 degrees on a hot summer day? Stand on a chair and put your hand as close to the ceiling as possible. Feel that heat? It’s a telltale sign that your house doesn’t have proper air flow, which, in addition to making you uncomfortable this summer, can also become a breeding ground for mold.

So what should you do? Start by investing in a hygrometer which measures water vapor in the air. A comfortable humidity reading is 30-60%, but 45-55% is an ideal level to maintain. If you’re seeing higher than 60% humidity in any area of your home, you’re going to be susceptible to mildew and bacteria growth.

Remember, attic ventilation allows your home to “breathe” so you want to balance your intake and exhaust to ensure that what is coming in is going out equally. The best ventilation system will include soffit vents which are installed underneath the overhang of the roof to take in the air and ridge vents which are installed at the top of the roof for the hot air to escape. For this method to work efficiently, all louvered vents must be sealed off and you have to ensure that your insulation isn’t blocking the airflow. Believe it or not, most roof manufacturers will void the warranty if a proper ventilation system is not installed. Luckily, new roofing technology enables contractors to add intake ventilation directly into the roof as opposed to using soffit vents so if you’re in the market for a new roof, be sure to ask for that option.

It’s important to note that homes have different characteristics and what works well for one may not work well for another. With the right balance of air, homeowners can optimize their home’s health but it’s always a good idea to get advice from a professional before taking on a big remodeling project. Stay cool friends, and have a Happy 4th of July!

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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.