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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: environment

Keep Pests at Bay with These All Natural Repellents

Chelsea O'Donnell

I don’t know about you, but this early summer seems worse than ever for pests of every kind. Homeowners are struggling with ants in the house and even my yard has more chipmunks than I’ve seen in recent memory. Lots of people I speak to are determined to get rid of their newfound neighbors, but many don’t want to resort to environmentally damaging chemicals or toxic ingredients in the home. So what can we do?

Let’s get those pests in check! I’ve rounded up a bunch of my favorite all natural repellents and deterrents to reduce the unwanted company in and around your home without putting toxins or pollutants into the environment. Let’s check them out.

Hot Pepper - for unwanted garden bugs, hot pepper is a fantastic solution. Simmer three tablespoons of red chili flakes or five finely chopped fresh jalapenos in a large pan of water for 15 minutes. Let it sit for a day and then strain the mixture into a spray bottle with a few drops of dish soap.

Coffee - did you know that coffee is fatal to ants? If you can find where they are entering your home, you can use recycled grounds to deter them. Simply place them in a shallow bowl or bag right at the entry point. One sniff and they’ll be doing a one-eighty.

Mint and Garlic - this is another garden concoction that you can use as a plant spray. Blitz a few garlic cloves and mint leaves in a food processor and then boil it with some cayenne pepper. Add a few drops of dish soap to the spray bottle and pour in your solution for a simple, effective plant spray.

Cornmeal - if you have pets, cornmeal is an easy non-toxic remedy for ants. Put a small dish or a plastic cover full near their entry point and the ants will soon start to carry it away to their colony. They love to eat it, but can’t digest it. Problem solved.

Rosemary - I love balmy summer evening in the backyard but I can’t stand mosquitoes! Citronella is a common natural deterrent but if you don’t have any handy, try throwing some rosemary or sage on your firepit. It smells wonderful to us but mosquitos can’t stand it.

Basil - if you get flies coming in and out of the house every time someone opens the door, trying potted basil. The flies will immediately retreat in their tracks and you’ll have plenty of fresh leaves for a delicious pesto. If you’re worried about pots getting kicked over and making a mess, a vital of basil essential oil will do the trick too.

Cayenne pepper - this is probably your best bet for a chipmunk problem. Just like other pests, chipmunks are very sensitive to the smell and taste of hot peppers and they’ll go out of their way to avoid it. A generous spray of cayenne and water or oil solution around your immediate garden should help to deter them from hanging around.

Do you have a favorite all-natural solution that gets rid of the pests at your home? I’d love to hear about it. Email me or send me a message on Facebook at

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.

Go Green with Energy Efficient Windows

Chelsea O'Donnell

Energy efficiency is continuing to gain popularity as more and more people are making the conscious decision to take environmental matters into their own hands. As I visit homeowners and talk to them about their options, I’m excited to report that people are taking proactive measures to reduce their carbon footprint, often asking me for my advice on ways to make their home a place that’s friendlier to our planet. One of the first suggestions I often make, in addition to ensuring they have proper insulation, is replacing old windows with a modern, energy efficient option.

Here in the Bristol area, many of the 1950’s home have old, drafty aluminium windows that let tons of heat and air conditioning escape during the winter and summer months. These old windows are expensive to keep in the house because they let so much air pass through. This means that homeowners (especially seniors who are more sensitive to the temperature,) are constantly cranking up or down the dial to make the house more comfortable.  It’s a lot of money and energy wasted for no good reason. 

These days, many window and door products are certified by EnergyStar, a joint program developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy to help consumers better understand the benefits of using energy efficient products and appliances. But what makes a window energy efficient in the first place? There are a few components, and different manufacturers use different options based on the environment and climate where the windows are sold.  

Firstly, the frame will be made of high-quality materials (such as fibreglass, vinyl, or wood) that are durable and reduce heat transfer. Then there is the glass, which should be at least two panes, separated by a gap to absorb sound and provide a stronger barrier between the inside and outside. In addition to multiple panes, the glass will also often have a Low-E (or low emittance) coating, which makes the window more effective in diminishing heat transfer, and reduces ultraviolet light from entering the home, which can damage carpets, rugs, and fabric furniture.  These three important factors are key to ensuring hot and cold air stays where it belongs, depending on the time of year. Plus I love a window with a tilt-in sash, which makes cleaning both the inside and outside of the glass a breeze.

It’s important for us all to help the environment, and creating an energy efficient home is a great way to do your part while reducing your power bill at the same time. If you’re not sure which windows are right for you, talk to a professional or visit to get more information on the options available.