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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States


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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O'Donnell Bros President, Bob O'Donnell, is a regular contributor to The Bristol Press. Read his home improvement articles here.


Filtering by Tag: cracks

Now is a Great Time to Repair or Replace That Driveway

Chelsea O'Donnell

A driveway is the entry point into almost every home, but a cracked surface can instantly date and devalue the property, especially if you’re a homeowner who is looking to sell in the near future. Depending on the condition of the driveway, patching, resurfacing or replacing the asphalt are all options to give your home a freshening up that will increase its resale value. Let’s take a look at the best ways to tackle this project.

If you’re wondering why your driveway has cracked or crumbled in the first place, the most likely culprits are sun and rain. The strong rays from the sun break down the surface of the asphalt while water from rain, ice, and snow run underneath, eroding the gravel which creates cracks and areas that begin to cave in. A driveway should last for at least 15 years depending on its environment, but as time passes and you start to see signs of wear, you’ll know that you’re ready for an upgrade.

If cracking is your problem, have a look at how thick the cracks are. If they are less than a quarter inch wide, you can use a liquid crack filler to fix them. First, use a screwdriver to remove any debris from the crack and then use a powerful stream of water from a hose or pressure washer ensure the inside of the crack is clean. Allow the area to dry completely. Once it’s dry, shake your crack filler vigorously to ensure all the ingredients are combined. Fill the crack flush to the rest of the pavement and then smooth it out if necessary. Allow the filler to dry, noting if the mixture sinks into the pavement and requires a second coat. Wait at least 24 hours before applying a second coat if necessary and then wait for an additional 24 to 48 hours before walking or driving on the repaired pavement.

If you have larger cracks, divots, or places in the driveway that have caved in slightly, you may need to resurface it. This is cheaper than replacing the entire driveway and can be a very effective alternative if the damage is not too severe. Concrete resurfacer can be purchased at any home improvement store and should be applied according to the instructions on the bag. Remember, resurfacing means that you won’t be able to use your driveway for a few days while it dries, so don’t take on this project the same weekend that you’re hosting a picnic or family party.

Finally, if you have large sinkholes or “birdbaths”, it’s likely that the foundation and drainage system underneath the asphalt or concrete is not working properly, so patching and resurfacing are only going to work temporarily. If this is the case, you’ll likely need to replace the driveway in its entirety in order to truly fix the problem. While this is the most arduous of the three options, it will also last the longest. A new driveway under good conditions should have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years and new pavement will give your home fantastic curb appeal. Again it’s important to note that installing a new driveway is a two-step process which includes laying the gravel for drainage and setting the pavement on top. Putting down the gravel sometimes means waiting two weeks for it to settle, so before you take on this kind of work, be aware of the time that it takes to complete.

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 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 Advice is for guidance only.

Simple Sealing Solutions to Retain Lost Heat in the Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

Old, drafty windows can be a killer this time of year - both in terms of comfort and cost. Cranking up the thermostat to combat escaping heat can often double or even triple your energy bills, plus it makes your heat and cooling systems go into overdrive which can shorten their lifespan.

While I am a huge fan of the latest and greatest energy efficient windows on the market, I understand that sometimes replacing that old glass isn’t in the budget. Keeping this in mind, I wanted to give you a few tips to help you retain some of the heat you’re losing from those old windows.

First, it’s important to remember that windows are one of the biggest sources of air leaks, which is a big deal in two of our four seasons. In the cold weather they let the heat escape, and in the warm weather they let it in, making your climate control systems work much harder than they have to. While the simple solutions I've outlined below will help you retain some comfort, window replacement will be your best bet long term if you’re tripling your energy bill during certain months of the year. So let’s get to the tips:

  1. Put up curtains. Believe it or not, hanging heavy fabric drapes can help you retain up to 25% of the heat in your home. This is especially true with large glass doors that aren’t being used in the winter months. The fabric acts as a barrier and while it won’t stop the air from getting out, it will slow the leakage. Plus, they can be very helpful in the summer, especially if your house gets a lot of direct sunlight.

  2. Seal up gaps. Wooden window frames get warped with age and can lead to serious air leakage. For cracks that are smaller than a quarter of an inch, a silicone caulk will work to plug up areas where air can flow through. For larger gaps and places that need to still open and close, weatherstripping is an excellent solution. It comes in foam, felt, vinyl and other materials and is both cost-effective and easy to install.

  3. Add a layer. Single pane windows in homes that were built more than 50 years ago simply can’t stand up to our cold winters. If you feel air coming right through the panes and the glass rattles with the wind, beef them up with some heat shrink film. This product can be found at any home supply store and can be cut to fit just about any pane. Using heat from a hairdryer, the plastic adheres to the glass, giving you a little bit of extra protection against the cold.

  4. Close up the attic. While not a window, people with an attic hatch are likely losing a ton of warm air through its frame. We all know that hot air rises, so seal up that hatch with heavy duty plastic, or build yourself an insulated box to fit over the entryway if you still need access to storage.

  5. Don’t forget the doors. We don’t often open the windows in the winter, but doors are a different story. They let lots of air escape, but they can’t be sealed completely because we need to use them. I always suggest inspecting your door sweep to ensure it’s not damaged, and replace it if the bristles have come loose. A door snake or seal can also come in handy, which can be purchased at any big box store or even made at home with an old pair of tights and some rice, beans, newspaper or another filling.

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 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 Advice is for guidance only.


Don't ignore cracked ceilings

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week I received a question from a reader that I'd like to share with all of you. She said, "Dear Bob, I have noticed some small cracks forming in my bathroom ceiling near the shower. Does this mean I need a new coat of paint or could it be something worse?"

I am so glad the reader asked this question because it's something that is incredibly common and can easily happen in any home. The reason ceiling cracks appear is because the bathroom usually holds the most moisture in the house. If the bathroom doesn't have proper ventilation, water and steam from the shower can get trapped in the ceiling, softening the drywall and eventually cracking the paint. An easy cosmetic fix could be to fill in the cracks and repaint the ceiling, but my advice is to first check to ensure no leaks or drainage issues are causing the problem in the first place.

I spend a lot of time in attics and I often see bathroom fans that have been disconnected or knocked off track. So while they sound like they are working, they aren't actually extracting the moisture properly. First floor bathrooms can be even more susceptible to cracking because of the possibility of plumbing leaks inside the ceiling that originate from an upstairs bathroom. So what can you do?

If you fix the crack, you don't want it coming back again, so start by making sure you have no leaks or damage in your plumbing. If that checks out, have a look at your bathroom fan to ensure that it's working properly. If the fan is old, it's probably worth having it replaced. Once you're ready to patch and paint, make sure the surfaces are very dry and use water resistant compound and paint to repair the ceiling. Ensure you give the compound plenty of time to dry before painting - I recommend one day or more. Finally, make sure you're preventing any excess moisture build up in the future by running the fan during and for 20 minutes after each shower.

I love hearing from my readers, so please keep those questions coming!