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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: gutters

Clean Your Gutters Now For Leaf Relief Come Fall

Chelsea O'Donnell

It may only be August but we’ll soon see the early signs of autumn. In other words, leaf maintenance season is right around the corner. Over the next two months, leaves, branches, and other debris will begin falling onto your roof and down into your gutters, building up over time. As winter approaches, this buildup can contribute to the formation of ice dams, a heavy mass of ice that settles onto the edge of your roof where the gutters are installed.

The main function of a gutter is to create a pathway for water to move away from your home and through a downspout to deposit in a safe place away from your home’s foundation. This system is vital to a house; it makes sure water can flow freely and not cause leaks in your roof, attic, and walls. But if your gutters are blocked up, the water has nowhere to go and has no choice but to flow over, creeping up into your roof shingles and down through your siding. This kind of damage is both costly to repair and entirely preventable. 

To give your gutters a good clean you’ll need a ladder, a lawn bag or bucket, a small hand rake (or scoop) and a hose. Don’t be tempted to spray debris down the downspout with water; it’s likely that branches and leaves will get stuck inside, clogging it up and leaving you with a whole new mess to deal with.  Start at the downspout opening and work your way backward, collecting gunk away from the downspout and disposing it into your bucket. Work in small sections and don’t let your bag get too heavy – it could throw you off balance and land you in the emergency room. 

While you’re making your way around the house, check for any gutter damage, such as sections coming loose. You want to make sure you get those fixed while the weather is good. Once you’ve finished cleaning, you can give each section a good spray with the hose to check and make sure the water is running through and you don’t have any hidden build-up in those downspouts.

If gutter cleaning is a job you’d rather not take on, hire a contractor to complete the maintenance and then speak to them about putting gutter guards on your home. These wire or mesh overlays are installed on top of the gutter and prevent debris from entering the channel in the first place. They offer a great solution to a messy job and will provide you with peace of mind for years to come. If you see me around town installing them for homeowners, feel free to say hello and ask any questions you may have. 

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.


What To Do Now To Prevent Ice Dams Next Winter

Chelsea O'Donnell

With the slight warm up this week, do you think winter is finally on the way out? If you’re like most homeowners, you’re probably a bit sick of the snow shoveling, ice chipping, and slushy commutes. And if you’re one of the unlucky many that I’ve seen, you’re probably ready for that ice dam to finally melt.

An ice dam forms when heavy snow blankets the roof, forming an extra layer of insulation. As warm air rises from your house and up through your attic, it causes the layer of snow closest to the roof to melt and the water to slide down into the gutters. This would normally be a good thing, but because so many homes in our area aren’t properly insulated, the water refreezes at the eaves of the roof, creating icicles.

Not so bad right? Think again. Icicles are a sign that water is refreezing over your gutters instead of draining through them, which forms an ice blockage. As that ice grows and grows, the water has nowhere to go so it starts to move under your roof shingles and eventually into your insulation and drywall. This is when you’ll start to see the leaks in your ceiling and walls. Sure, those huge frozen icicles look pretty, but you won’t be so fond of them when you see the damage that they can do.

The best way to avoid this problem is by taking preventative measures. I get calls from homeowners to remove ice dams after every winter storm, and for many, it is too late and they are already facing thousands of dollars worth of damage. But if you’re lucky enough to catch an ice dam before it fully forms, it’s a smart idea to get rid of it as quickly as possible

Firstly, when you’re clearing snow from your driveway and sidewalks, think about your roof too. Removing snow from the house is the best way to protect your home against it melting and refreezing in the gutters and up the roof. If you already have an ice dam forming, you can use a hammer and chisel to get rid of it, but be very careful as roof shingles are more delicate and brittle in cold conditions. One safe home remedy is to fill a pair of pantyhose with an ice melter and lay it across the ice dam so the water will melt into the gutter. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder, call a professional to help you get rid of the ice dam quickly and safely.

These, of course, are just stop-gap measures. The only way to prevent ice dams from forming permanently is to have your home properly insulated and ventilated. More than 75% of homes in our area are under-insulated which causes the heat from your home to shoot right through the roof. Having appropriate insulation and ventilation will keep your home free from ice dams and will keep you much more comfortable in both the winter and the summer. You’ll feel the difference immediately, and you’ll see the benefit in your energy bills too.

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 www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Smart Jobs For Homeowners To Beat the Winter Blues

Chelsea O'Donnell

While temperatures have been pretty comfortable this past week, there is no denying that winter is on the way. With mornings in the 30’s and 40’s, I think it’s time to start talking about what we should be doing to get our homes ready for the cold before it actually comes. So without further ado, here are my top five tips:

Take a picture of your roof.

We’ll start with an easy one. Go outside and snap a photo of your roof from each direction. Wondering why? When we get a massive snowfall, I always recommend for people to get their roofs shoveled. Removing the snow helps to reduce the risk of leaks and other damage to your home. But when the snow is very deep, it’s impossible to see the pipes, skylights and other parts and pieces that stick up out of the roof. Keeping a picture of the clean surface is a great way to minimize the probability of an accident when you’re trying to prevent damage in the first place.

Mark the driveway.

Speaking of damage prevention, stop by the local hardware store and get some property markers. They are generally made of wood or metal and are sometimes painted in a fluorescent color. Use the markers to create an outline around your driveway. Just like your roof, when a blanket of snow hits, it’s impossible for a removalist to see where the driveway ends and where your lawn begins. Creating that parameter will help the snow plow truck operator know where to go, which should assist in keeping your curbs and grass intact.

Give the furnace a checkup.

If you haven’t put the heat on yet, you will soon. Don’t wait until you really need it to make sure that everything is in working order. Clean or replace your HVAC filters and check the temperature gauge to make sure you can power up and down with no problems. Also, now is the time to remove those window A/C units and check and clean those filters too. While you’re at it, make sure your carbon monoxide detectors are working and change the batteries if necessary.

Seal up the air holes.

I get calls all winter long from people who are wondering why their house is so drafty. If you have an attic hatch, install an insulated box to prevent the cold air from coming down into your living space. Check all your windows and doors for gaps and use weatherstripping, foam, or insulation to seal it tight. If you have a fireplace that you don’t use, get that covered too. Any passageways from the inside to the outside can act as wind tunnels when the frigid winter air comes calling.

Clean those gutters.

We will have a few weeks of falling leaves before the deep freeze, but please don’t leave your gutters clogged to the hilt with debris. If you don’t clean your gutters, it will prevent winter water from flowing off the roof and down away from the foundation. If water has nowhere to go, it will refreeze in your gutters and at the base of your roof, resulting in dangerous ice dams and potential leaks. If you don’t want to do this dirty job yourself, schedule a pro to handle it for you. It will be worth it.

If you do just these five things, you’ll be in much better shape when the wicked weather decides to come our way. Plus it’s much more pleasant to get these jobs out of the way before it’s too cold and snowy to bother. Good luck and as always, don’t be afraid to reach out if you need help or advice.

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.