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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.

 

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Get Your Gutters Cleaned Before Autumn Leaves Fall

Chelsea O'Donnell

It may only be the third week of August, but soon we will be seeing the early signs of autumn. Do you know what that means? Every homeowner’s favorite job, leaf maintenance, is right around the corner.

Over the next two months, leaves, branches, and other debris will begin falling onto your roof and down into your gutters, building up over time. As winter approaches, this buildup can contribute to the formation of ice dams, a heavy mass of ice that settles on the edge of your roof where the gutters are installed.

The main job of a gutter is to create a pathway for water to move away from your home and through a downspout to deposit in a safe place away from your home’s foundation. This system is vital to a house; it makes sure water can flow freely and not cause leaks in your roof, attic, and walls. But if your gutters are blocked up, the water has nowhere to go and has no choice but to flow over, creeping up into your roof shingles and down through your siding. This kind of damage is both costly to repair and entirely preventable - so get your gloves on and let’s get to it.

To give your gutters a good clean you’ll need a ladder, a lawn bag or bucket, a small hand rake (or scoop) and a hose. Don’t be tempted to spray debris down the downspout with water; it’s likely that branches and leaves will get stuck inside, clogging it up and leaving you with a whole new mess to deal with.  Start at the downspout opening and work your way backward, collecting gunk away from the downspout and disposing it into your bucket. Work in small sections and don’t let your bag get too heavy – it could throw you off balance and land you in the emergency room.

While you’re making your way around the house, check for any gutter damage, such as sections coming loose. You want to make sure you get those fixed while the weather is good. Once you’ve finished the cleaning, you can give each section a good spray with the hose to check and make sure the water is running through and you don’t have any hidden build-up in those downspouts.

If gutter cleaning is a job you’d rather not take on, hire a contractor to complete the maintenance and then speak to them about putting gutter guards on your home. These wire or mesh overlays are installed on top of the gutter and prevent debris from entering the channel in the first place. They offer a great solution to a messy job and will provide you with peace of mind for years to come. You’ll want to get them installed now before the first signs of autumn to make sure your home is prepared for the onset of fall leaves.

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.

Clean and Seal Your Deck for Decades Worth of Endless Summers

Chelsea O'Donnell

The life expectancy of a wood deck is about 10 to 15 years, but did you know that it could last north of 20 years with proper cleaning and maintenance? That’s right, with a good seasonal scrub and sealing, your deck could stay looking beautiful long after your neighbors’ needs replacing.

A deck takes a lot of abuse during the seasons. The summer sun is especially harsh and the humidity forces the wood to expand and contract, which can lead to shifting and splitting. The winter is no picnic either as snow, ice, and freezing temperatures will do their fair share of damage to both the surface and the joists. With all those elements taking their toll, it’s no wonder why a deck is so susceptible to rot. Luckily, there is plenty that you can do to take care of it, so let’s get to it.

Attack the Crevices

The first thing you have to do is sweep the surface of your deck clean, and then grab a putty knife to dislodge all the debris stuck in the nooks and crannies. Whirlybirds and leaves can do a lot more damage than you think because they begin to rot as soon as they get wet. Leaving them trapped in the wood will most certainly send your deck to an early grave. This is also a great time to sand down any splintered areas and replace deteriorated or popped nails or screws.

Scrub the Wood

Once your surface is completely debris-free, it’s time to give the wood a deep clean. You might remember my affinity for a pressure washer and deck cleaning is where this machine really shines. A year’s worth of dirt, mildew, and gunk can be tough to take off, and while a stiff scrub brush and some serious back-aching effort will do the trick, the pressure washer will tackle the task in half the time. Many people recommend a bleach and water solution but I prefer to use a non-toxic alternative such as Spray Nine which has no corrosive chemicals and won’t kill your plants. Give the deck a good, solid coating of cleaner and let it sit for 15 minutes before pressure washing or scrubbing.

Stain and Seal

Staining the deck is an optional step but sealing it shouldn't be. Many decks experience discoloration over time and staining is one great way to give your wood a facelift and make it look new. But regardless of if you’re staining or not, applying a weather resistant seal is your best defense against having the replace your deck sooner than you expected. Apply the sealant in a thin coat using a medium paintbrush or a roller, working with the wood grain to ensure an even finish. It’s important not to apply the sealant in direct, hot sun as it will dry too quickly and the wood won’t be able to absorb it. If instructed, apply a second coat, working in the same way. Finally, allow the sealant to dry for 24 to 48 hours before placing deck furniture or planters back on the surface.

Now sit back, relax, and enjoy your beautiful like-new deck for the rest of the summer and beyond. Your wood will thank you.

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.

 

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.