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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: Garden

10 Home Maintenance Jobs To Get Prepped For Fall

Chelsea O'Donnell

Summer may be unofficially over 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. 

I went into detail about this one last week but it’s worth another mention. We’re in for a stellar leaf peeping season, but for us 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 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.


It's Not Too Late To Reap The Benefits of a Veggie Patch

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you think late summer is the time to give your garden a rest, think again. This time of year is perfect to get late fall and winter veggies into the ground to enjoy a delicious harvest even when the frost sets in. For those of you with a green thumb or even if you regret not getting in the garden earlier this year, now is a great time to get planting. Let’s start with three basic tips.

First, make a note of the frost dates. A smart cool weather garden will thrive if it’s in the ground and has time to mature well before the daytime temperature starts to settle at around 55 degrees. The almanac has the first frost at around October 8th which means you have over a month to get your crops settled in. 

If you’ve decided on a fall garden, you might want to think about building a cold frame. You can buy one at a local hardware store, or make your own using plywood and plastic with holes for ventilation. For a small garden, a hinged plexiglass box will do the trick but for larger beds, consider heavy duty plastic sheeting.

Lastly, use this opportunity to give back to your garden and get it ready for next season. If you’re not too picky about what to plant or you aren’t interested in harvesting, consider a cover crop - a species that will improve the health of your soil, enhance your garden’s biodiversity, and keep pests and weeds at bay. Peas and beans are the best choices for veggies, and clover works really well too.

Once you’ve committed to a fall garden, the only decision left is what to plant! Some of my favorite vegetables do really well in the colder months so luckily you have tons to choose from. In terms of leafy greens, you have your pick with chard, kale, lettuce of all kinds and spinach. Other tough veggies like broccoli, beets, carrots, and radishes are plenty strong for these colder months.  My favorites roasting veg like fennel, parsnips, turnips, and Brussels sprouts also do incredibly well this time of year. And let’s not forget rhubarb for a delicious late season pie!

If you love all these veggies but can’t get yourself to commit to a late summer garden, don’t worry. Bookmark this for six months time and get excited to kick off the spring with an early planting. Happy Gardening!

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.


Kick Up Your Hammock Game for Summer Relaxation

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week’s oppressive heat had me daydreaming about relaxing in the cool shade in the comfort of my backyard hammock. If you’re a hammock fan, you know how wonderful it feels to swing freely, dozing effortlessly in the quiet comfort of nature. If a hammock isn’t your bag, it can only be that you haven’t found the perfect one to enjoy. So this week, in the spirit of the last month of summer, I’ve pulled together a guide of my favorite hammocks for every occasion to inspire readers to slow down and relax. 

For the Traditionalist

If you love the look of a classic rope hammock, you can’t go past Pawleys Island. Made in the USA, these hammocks are generous in size and come in a whole bunch of colors in case white isn’t your thing or if you’re worried about it getting dirty. $169. https://pawleysislandhammocks.com

For the Lovebirds

If you’re looking for comfort for two, the Hammock Sky Brazilian Double is a great pick for around the yard. Its solid canvas makeup goes with any decor and is 60 inches wide, making it big enough to easily accommodate two adults. I also love the lifetime warranty in case something goes awry. $50. www.amazon.com

For Serious Comfort

Hammock loyalists know that Hatteras is one of the best brands out there and their pillowtop line might just beat out your bed in terms of comfort. These hammocks look great on a stand by the pool, but I have to warn you, you may never want to leave it. Keep your barbecue close. From $349. https://hatterashammocks.com/products/hammocks/pillowtop

For On-The-Go

Hikers and campers love the Hummingbird which is light, tiny, and easy to hang almost anywhere. For the size of a coffee cup, you won’t believe that this thing holds 300 plus pounds, making it the perfect pack-along hammock for a day trip in the woods. $64. https://hummingbirdhammocks.com/

For Mosquito-Free Comfort

There is nothing worse than climbing into your hammock for a late afternoon snooze when mosquitoes start to attack. This is where G4Free comes in. With their built-in mosquito net, you can enjoy all the comforts of the great outdoors without the pesky bug bites. $28. http://www.g4free.com

For Sunny Spots

Hammocks get faded from too much sun exposure and mold is often an issue too. For a hammock that needs to withstand the elements, the Vivere Sunbrella is worth checking out. Sunbrella material reflects UV rays and is mildew and stain-resistant too. $179. https://www.vivereltd.com/18/brazilian-sunbrella-hammock-double

For Sitting Upright

Lay down hammocks are fantastic for snoozing, but reading the newspaper or even enjoying a cocktail can be a challenge. The Y-Stop Hammock Chair looks and feels like a traditional hammock but its upright design makes it ideal for mornings with your coffee and paper. $45. www.amazon.com

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.