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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 Tag: diy

10 Hacks To Make Window Washing A Little Less Painful

Chelsea O'Donnell

This past weekend my family tackled the tough job of cleaning the windows in my daughter’s recently purchased historical home. After years of built-up dirt, this was no easy task and let me tell you, it made me appreciate my easy to clean vinyl windows a whole lot more. But with a house in a historic district, efficiency upgrades aren’t as simple as they are with other homes, so a morning of cleaning was inevitable. Luckily, with a few simple tricks, we got the job done and the windows look amazing. 

Window washing is a dreaded task, but a few hours can make all the difference. Here are 10 of my favorite tricks, tips, and hacks to simplify the job and get your glass gleaming again.

  1. Never clean windows on a hot day. The glass will heat up, causing your washing solution to dry on the panes faster than you’ll be able to wipe it off. A cloudy, overcast day is your best bet for this job. 

  2. Instead of relying on reams of paper towels, stop into your local hardware store and grab an eight-inch squeegee for those small panes. They make the job a lot easier with much less waste, just don’t forget to wipe the blade between swipes!

  3. Here is a great DIY window cleaning solution. Combine one cup hot water and one cup white distilled vinegar. Mix in a spray bottle and there you have it. For very grimy windows, clean with hot soap and water first, followed by the vinegar mixture for a streak-free shine. 

  4. To get rid of really pesky streaks, use a dry board eraser. Unlike paper towels, an eraser can do away with streaks without leaving lint behind. 

  5. If you really hate washing windows, take an extra step and apply a window protectant. The clear polymer coating will help protect the glass from dust, dirt, and grime for longer. 

  6. If you’ve run out of paper towels, old newspapers are a great alternative. The ink will get on your hands but you don't have to worry about lint getting left behind on the windows.

  7. Hard water spots can be tough to remove with regular window cleaner. A dryer sheet will do the trick, just buff in circular motions. It works on mirrors and shower doors too. 

  8. Caterpillars love building nests in window tracks. Clean them out with a thin screwdriver and then follow up with a firm, toothbrush-sized bristle brush. 

  9. Hate cleaning blinds? Wrap a pair of kitchen tongs in two microfiber cloths and secure with an elastic band on either side. Run the tongs between each slat to remove dust and pet dander. 

  10. Have a can of WD-40 in the garage? A quick coat on freshly cleaned window sills will prevent dirt and grime from sticking.

If after this round of window washing you swear it will be your last, consider upgrading to vinyl windows. The seamless, tilt-in design makes them so easy to clean and the energy efficiency can’t be beaten. It’s one of the best upgrades you can make to your home to save both time and money in the long run. 

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.

Keep Pesky Woodpeckers From Ruining Your Siding

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week I received an email from a reader asking for my advice to help her stop a woodpecker from drilling holes in the side of her house. It’s a problem that’s very common in our area and one that should be dealt with quickly before a few holes become an unsightly, and expensive problem.

Woodpeckers are attracted to homes for a few reasons. The most obvious one is that they are looking for food and think a delicious meal could be hiding under wood shakes or siding. Another popular reason is that they are looking for places to build a nest, and a crevice or corner of your home could likely provide the perfect shelter. Finally, there is a behavior called drumming which woodpeckers engage in as a way to mark their territory or attract a potential mate. This action generally occurs during the spring, prior to breeding season.

Regardless of the reason, a woodpecker’s pecking is a nuisance, especially when it’s waking you up in the early morning hours and doing a number to your home. So how do you get rid of them? It’s important to know that woodpeckers are a federally protected bird, so by law, you should not engage in any activity to harm them. Plus, woodpeckers are very beneficial birds that feed on insects such as wood-boring ants and grubs. Luckily there are a few simple and inexpensive solutions that will work to keep them away from your property without causing them any harm.

  1. Woodpeckers don’t like shiny, reflective objects so installing some aluminum flashing, metalized Mylar tape, small mirrors, or even aluminum foil will deter them. You can find rolls of flash tape for less than $10 online or in your local hardware store.

  2. A scary eye balloon is a small inflatable ball that mimics the look of an owl, one of the woodpecker’s feared predators. By hanging this balloon on an awning, you can scare the little troublemakers away from the house and back to the trees where they belong.

  3. A similar tool that I’ve seen is an “attack spider” which is a silly looking, battery operated spider the size of a plate that can be hung on an awning or ledge above where the woodpecker is doing damage. The spider is noise-activated and will drop down after the first few taps, scaring the woodpecker away and out of sight.

  4. Netting is another popular solution that works because it doesn’t allow the birds to land in their desired area. Netting is a bit more expensive and will take some time to install, but it’s lightweight and made from plastic, which means it’s a bit more durable and will last through the seasons.  Bird experts recommend installing a ¾ inch net and placing it at least three inches from the house’s exterior surface.

  5. There are also a number of topical sprays and paints that can be used to deter woodpeckers which work similarly to nail biting or thumb sucking solutions. These products emit a smell and taste to deter birds without harming them.   

  6. Finally, you could set up a suet feeder. Woodpeckers love suet and if the bird that’s damaging your home is looking for food, providing suet in a feeder away from the house will give them what they’re looking for without having to work for it.

Now it’s time to hear from you. Have you found a safe method to get rid of problematic woodpeckers? I’d love to learn more, so send me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros or drop me an email.

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.

Build Your Own Backyard Fire Pit This Weekend

Chelsea O'Donnell

Last week we talked about the different ways you can enjoy an ambient fire in your own backyard. While there are many options for a portable, moveable (and tippable!) pit, many of us like the idea of a permanent area to enjoy evenings gathered around the warm glow of an open fire. So today, I’ll be showing you how to build a simple backyard pit that you can enjoy for the rest of the summer and right through the autumn too.

First things first, always check your town’s website or fire department for their rules on open fires. Some special requirements might include fire size, setback distances, or general fire permits, so make the call before you get started.

Next, choose a place with plenty of room that’s well away from your home and any low hanging trees, bushes, or vegetation. This is a fire we are talking about, so safety has to be of the utmost importance. Also, if you have to dig, make sure you steer clear of any utility lines or in-ground sprinklers.

Once you have your spot, measure out the space for your pit. You’ll want to have 36-44 inches for the inside where the fire will burn, plus an additional 12 inches around for your stone or brick wall. Put a few chairs about 24 inches from where your outer rim will be to ensure that people can fit comfortably without burning their knees. Setting up your space is important - you want to make sure you have enough room for your family to enjoy the fire without the set up feeling too close or crowded.

Once your setup is ready, dig a 12-inch deep hole into the ground. If you’re building your pit on a patio, you’ll want to remove the original pavers. Then add a layer of sand and tamp it down so it’s level. Alternatively, you can also add a layer of additional pavers on top of the current base and fill in the cracks and crevices with sand. It’s important to have this base for your fire to ensure that you protect the ground or your current patio from heat damage.

Next, it’s time to lay your ring. Most home improvement stores carry pre-made fire pit “kits” which include the stone that you’ll need for the job. Alternatively, you can find rounded pavers to purchase at a simple per unit price, just be sure that they are heat resistant. I highly recommend going with a height of at least 18 inches or roughly knee height to ensure that the fire is properly contained while still giving it room to throw heat.

If you’re going with a DIY option, the easier way to do it is to lay the pavers subway style, with each layer centered over the seam of the previous layer to give it extra stability. It also gives the pit a higher-end look. Depending on the size of your pavers, three layers of stone should do the trick. If you’re using brick, you’ll probably need to double that amount.

And that’s it! Of course, you can choose to create a much more lavish design, but if you’re going for a simpler look, it can be built in just a few hours and will be ready to be enjoyed that very day. I can’t wait to see what you come up with. Send me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros to share your ideas.

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.