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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: family

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.

Five Hosting Hacks for the Holidays

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you are responsible for hosting holiday festivities, chances are you’ll probably spend this weekend trying to figure out how to fit guests comfortably in your home. While entertaining can be fun, it’s also a time when metal chairs are dusted off, table leaves are unpacked, and spaces are reconfigured to accommodate a crowd. This is also the time when homeowners start thinking about future remodeling projects and how they can make updates to create more space for people to gather. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite holiday hosting hacks to make life a little easier this Christmas.

  1. Keep the chef sane. The kitchen is always a major attraction for people to congregate to see what’s cooking, help with clean-up, or just to linger for a chat. This type of gathering can be stressful for a holiday chef on the move, so it’s nice to have a plan to keep people out of the way. I like to create temporary seating in eyesight but away from the cooking area itself using a few chairs, benches, or even a spare sofa. This will accommodate guests who want to be part of the action while keeping them away from the food preparation.

  2. Make a holiday cocktail for all. Festive sangria, mulled wine, or spiced cider are all great options that will please a crowd without having to spend a fortune on too many different types of beverages. Plus, a punch or winter warmer encourages guests to serve themselves, allowing the hosts to be more focused on food, fun and other aspects of entertaining.

  3. Keep the fridge functional. Speaking of drinks, don’t let lots of small items such as bottles and cans, condiments you’re not using, and old leftovers take up valuable real estate. Set up a cooler on the back deck for beer, water, and soft drinks, and hide another one away to store the day-to-day items that you won't need for Christmas. With so many ingredients to keep cool, every square inch of space can be useful in some way.

  4. Give the oven an upgrade. Somehow there is never enough space for everything that needs to be cooked. While kitchen remodels are certainly off the table for this time of year, a simple three-tiered oven rack is a great way to increase your capacity instantly. It’s like having a double oven and is the perfect solution to get plenty of pies and sides in with that turkey or ham.

  5. Don’t forget to de-ice. You never know what kind of weather Christmas can bring so be sure to be prepared with plenty of salt or sand for the driveway, sidewalks, and walkways. It’s also a good idea to have de-icer on hand for your guest’s windshields in case it snows while the party is in full swing.

On a personal note, it’s been a wonderful year and I want to wish you all a safe, happy holiday season and a fantastic 2019. Merry Christmas!

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.


Which Christmas Tree is Best For My Family?

Chelsea O'Donnell

With so many beautiful Christmas trees to choose from, it can be hard to pick a style and species to suit a family’s home and unique needs. You might not know that some trees are better for kids while others are great for people with allergies. Yet other varieties are good for certain types of heat and can withstand warmer, dryer temperatures for longer. So without further ado, here is my list of the top trees that you’ll find at your local farm or stand and some of the key differences to help you find your perfect match.

Balsam Fir

One of the most popular picks for Christmas is a balsam fir, which is loved for its sturdy needles, bright green color, strong scent, and beautiful shape. Because of its popularity, the balsam fir also one of the more affordable options of all the different tree types. You can’t go wrong with this classic, which grows strong and lasts long. Plus, like most firs, it’s hypoallergenic too.

White Pine

This is another popularity contest winner but for a much different reason than the balsam. White pines are loved by families for their super soft texture and touchable needles. They can grow very large and they are also inexpensive, which makes them the choice tree for many families with young children. One thing to note about this species is that those soft needles grow from delicate branches, so only go this route if you have lightweight ornaments.

Douglas Fir

Though called a fir, the Douglas is actually a species all its own. While grown mainly in the Northwest region of the United States, this tree is popular all over the country because it’s tough enough to withstand early cutting and lots of traveling. The needles are soft with a sweet fragrance and the shape is conical, making it easy and fun to decorate without too much precision.

Blue Spruce

The color of this tree makes it the hero of any holiday decor. Those beautiful bluish needles are easy to fall in love with, but decorator beware - those babies are sharp! If you have a good set of gloves, they will be well worth using to get this tree in place. But once it’s decorated, you can rest easy as pets tend to keep their distance.

Concolor Fir

The concolor is a favorite in our house because it has all the wonderful characteristics of the fir species - great shape, good color, strong branches, and long needles. The difference is the smell. Unlike most Christmas trees, this variety offers a beautiful citrus scent, keeping the house bright and fresh smelling through the holidays.


What type of tree does your family favor? Is there one I have missed that makes its way into your house year after year? I’d love to hear from you - shoot me a message on Facebook at facebook.com/odonnellbros.

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.