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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 Tag: air

Is the Air in Your Home Making You Sick?

Chelsea O'Donnell

To most people, air pollution is defined by smog and exhaust that heaves from factories and cars, contaminating the air that we breathe outside. But did you know that the air inside your home can be more polluted than what you’re breathing outdoors? Believe it or not, lead, radon, formaldehyde, dust, cleaning chemicals, mold, mites, and pet dander are all hidden pollutants living inside your home, affecting your family’s health on a day-to-day basis. While we don’t want to think about it, it’s a common reality that I see in houses all over our area. What’s worse is that it’s doing more damage than you probably realize.

Because people spend more time indoors when the weather gets hot, we are seeing indoor air pollution take its toll more severely, especially in young children and elderly people who can develop asthma or breathing problems due to the hidden contaminants in their home. Sometimes it’s a summer cold but often it’s a telltale sign of indoor pollution. So what can you do to make sure your air quality is up to par? Here are five simple tips:

Get tested. Radon and lead tests can be done by a professional and are also available in at-home kits. If your home was built before the late 1970’s it’s a good idea to have it tested as lead based paint was highly common and can cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. As for radon, it just so happens to be the number two cause of lung cancer in the USA.

Watch the water. Mold loves moisture, so if your home regularly clocks humidity levels above 50 percent, you’ll want to start running a dehumidifier. The amount of mold and mildew build-up I see in people’s homes would shock you, yet they wonder why their kids have asthma and their elderly parents can’t breathe. Here’s an extra tip: a humidity reader, called a hygrometer, costs less than $10 at the local hardware store.

Clean your vents. Proper ventilation is vital to ensuring your home can breathe properly. While most people don’t have enough attic ventilation as it is, they also forget to clean the vents that are accessible and easy to maintain. The air conditioning filter, dryer vent, and even a blow-dryer are likely full of dust and dander, so be sure to keep them lint and funk free.

Go green. Household plants are a fantastic natural ally in keeping your air quality up to scratch. Palms, ferns, English Ivy, and Peace Lily are common indoor plants that also earn top marks for ridding the air of toxins. Just remember that you’ll need one plant for every 10 square yards of living space to keep the air clean. 

Make it a habit. Cleaning the house regularly will improve air quality simply because dust traps chemicals and allergens in it. Upgrade your vacuum cleaner for one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and make sure to wash kids stuffed animals regularly with hot water as dust mites love living in fabrics. When you start running low on a household cleaning product, swap it out for an all-natural alternative without the harsh chemicals. While you’re at it, say goodbye to those synthetic fragrances too - according to one study, a popular plug-in air freshener was found to contain 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including seven regulated as toxic under U.S. law. An essential oil diffuser will do the job without the poisonous toxins.

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.

Rain, Rain Go Away - Protect Your Home From Moisture

Chelsea O'Donnell

With all the rain we’ve been getting plus warming temperatures, humidity in the house is going to be a major problem for many homeowners this coming season. While we all love summer, not dealing with moisture early can make your home and uncomfortable and unhealthy place to live.

Most people combat humidity by using air conditioners, and while they can reduce the moisture in the air to some degree, this is by no means their primary function. An air conditioner works by sucking the air from your home, cooling it, and blowing it back into the house. That process does reduce the humidity slightly, but pairing your air conditioner with a dehumidifier is the best way to cool down your home so you can sleep more comfortably at night.

 A dehumidifier works by pulling the moisture out of the air and storing the excess water in a holding tank. Many people keep dehumidifiers in their basement all year long to control the dampness that can often be felt in these underground areas. This is a great idea because controlling the humidity in the dampest part of your home will very likely help to regulate the rest of the house.  One way to know if your house is holding a lot of moisture is to purchase a simple five-dollar humidity gauge, called a hygrometer, from the local hardware store. Ideally, you want the humidity level to be under 50%. If it’s higher, you might want to consider using a dehumidifier in the main part of your home, especially on hot summer days and in areas where you spend the most time.  

In addition to cooling the air and decreasing moisture, running a dehumidifier during the hottest parts of the hottest days can also prevent mold and mildew growth, eliminate musty odors in the home, and prevent old pipes from sweating. Plus, you can use the water collected in the tank to give your outdoor plants a good drink! Dehumidifiers generally run on about half the energy of an air conditioning unit, so as long as you don’t run them all day, using one shouldn’t affect your energy bill. Just be sure to keep windows and doors closed when you run your unit, and only switch the power on during the most humid time of the day, or when the air is above 50 percent humidity.

Be aware that dehumidifiers by nature are drying, so try not to run them while you’re occupying the room over a long period of time, like when you’re sleeping at night. Also, be careful about using dehumidifiers in conjunction with an attic fan. I see people do this all the time and they unintentionally throw the excess moisture from their home or basement up into their attic, where it has no place to escape. 

If you’re thinking that a dehumidifier might be a good solution for you, they come in different sizes and can be used for residential or commercial purposes. Generally, a unit will come in 25, 30 and 40-pint models, and on average a 25-pint unit will be sufficient to operate in a 1,000 square foot area.

Finally, if you have a dehumidifier, please be sure to keep the filter clean. Dust, dirt, and debris can get caught in the filter, preventing air from flowing freely and potentially circulating mold spores throughout the home. A simple wipe down with a damp cloth and spray bottle will do the trick to keep you breathing freely and ensure a longer life for your appliance. 

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.

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.