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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: flood

No Way Hurricane Jose - Tips to Keep Your Family Safe During Hurricane Season

Chelsea O'Donnell

While Connecticut isn’t an area known for hurricanes, the storms that have left our southern neighbors in serious need of help had me thinking about how we should prepare our homes and families in the unlikely case that a major storm hits.

The Atlantic region hurricane season runs from June 1st through the end of November, so being prepared is still essential even as fall settles in. According to the National Weather Service, 12 tropical storms form in the Atlantic every season and half gain enough momentum to be categorized as a hurricane. Once a hurricane hits, there are three main risks that we face in our area: coastal flooding from storm surge, wind damage, and inland river flooding due to heavy rains. If Harvey, Irma, Maria, and Jose have taught us anything, it’s to be prepared. According to the state’s official emergency guide, every household should have the following list of items readily available and easily accessible in their homes:

  • One gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation

  • At least a three-day supply of non-perishable food

  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both

  • Flashlight and extra batteries

  • First aid kit

  • A whistle to signal for help

  • Garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation

  • Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities

  • A manual can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)

  • Local maps

  • Cell phone with chargers, inverter or solar charger

  • Food and litter requirements for any pets

  • Medicine or any special need items, including diapers for infants

In addition to a safety kit, it’s also vital to sit down with your family and create a plan of action in the event that a storm does hit. Here are the most important topics to cover:

  1. Choose a safe place in your home where you can go if there is an emergency. Rooms with no windows are generally best.

  2. Choose two exit routes out of your home in case you have to leave.

  3. Pick two places for your family to meet in case you get separated. It’s a good idea to choose one place in your neighborhood and one place outside of your neighborhood.

  4. Write down the names, phone numbers, and email addresses of two emergency contacts that anyone in your family can contact in case you get separated. Choose one person in the state and one person out of the state.

  5. Have arrangements for a place that you can stay for a few days in case you can’t make it back to your home.

  6. Make a plan to keep your pets safe and have supplies ready for them.

  7. Know how to shut off all vital utilities in your home including gas, electricity, and water in case you are asked to do so.

  8. Make sure everyone knows the plan.

Too many of us decide to make storm preparation a priority when it’s too late. Visit the state’s Emergency Preparedness Resource Center at to access all the information you need to keep your family safe and do yourself a favor - don’t wait.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions 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 Overlook Those Downspouts During Fall Leaf Prep

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you’re a homeowner, chances are that leaf maintenance is in your very near future. With the beauty of autumn nearly always comes clogged gutters that when left uncleaned can make a big mess come winter. But while some people are excellent about keeping those gutter debris-free, it’s the often overlooked downspouts that can become compacted, leading to overflows in the gutters and potential leaks in the roof. So if you’ve never done it before, now is the perfect time to give those downspouts a good clean out and give yourself the peace of mind of a leak-free roof come fall.

A downspout is the most important part of your roof drainage system as it allows all the water that flows down into the gutters to move away from the foundation of the home. A properly installed gutter system will let rain and melted snow drain off the roof quickly, and the downspout will ensure that the water doesn’t land where it’s not supposed to. Without a downspout, gutters will overflow and run down into the home, causing leaks in the basement. If it’s winter and the snow and ice can’t move, the water will find itself a new home in your attic. Either of these scenarios is a major headache for a home owner, so don’t let it happen to you. Let’s clean those downspouts.

For this job, you’ll need a ladder, a scoop, a bag for debris, a cordless drill and a shovel or long handle about an inch wide. If you have a plumbing snake, that will work well too. 

Always start by cleaning out the gutters first. Remove any old leaves and sticks with a scoop or by hand. Once you’ve cleaned the gutters, give them a rinse with the hose and keep an eye out for any leaks. Small issues can be caulked, but if you see a lot of leaking, you might need to call a professional in for a repair. 

Next, make your way to the elbow of the gutter system where the main gutter meets the downspout. Back out the screws in the upper and lower parts of the elbow to remove the joining piece. Look to see if there is any debris caught and remove it with a strong water stream, the end of a shovel, or your plumbing snake. Then look down the barrel of the downspout to see if you can see light at the other end. Use the hose to clear any debris and check for back-ups. If dirt, leaves, and sticks have been compacted, use the end of the shovel to gently push the gunk out of the bottom of the downspout. Be careful and make sure you don’t damage or dent the pipe. I like to use the hose both on the top and bottom of the downspout to ensure it’s absolutely free and clear. 

Once everything is cleaned out, you can screw the downspout back into place and do one final flush with the hose. Just remember, any home improvement projects involving a ladder can be dangerous, so make sure you’re on firm, steady ground and ask a friend for some help. If you’re not comfortable with heights, call a professional to do the cleaning for you. No DIY project is worth a trip to the emergency room. 

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions 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. Get in touch here