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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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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: humidity

Get Rid of Unsightly Crabgrass and Breathe New Life Into Your Lawn

Chelsea O'Donnell

With so much rain early in the season followed by a long period of hot and humid weather, this summer is definitely a record-breaker for crabgrass. This thick, clumpy weed is not only ugly but it’s bad for your lawn’s health too. You might be thinking that since we’re halfway through summer, there’s not much you can do, but treating crabgrass now is actually a smart move that will give your lawn a lush look before the season ends. 

As I said, crabgrass is a weed and just like other weeds, it likes to take over. Once it gets its roots down, it spreads quickly, killing healthy grass in its path. Of course, crabgrass dies on its own when it starts to turn cold, but not treating it means it’s more likely to come back next year. So here’s what you can do today to get rid of it and keep it at bay for next year. 

The best course of action is a pre-emergent, but that’s only good in the spring before the crabgrass starts to grow, so if you missed it, it looks like you’ll be pulling by hand. That’s right, get out that kneepad because the best way to remove the weed is to pull it out, ensuring the roots come with it. It’s been dry for a long time here in Connecticut, but recent rain will loosen those roots up a bit. 

Once you have the crabgrass out, you can fill in the bare spots with healthy grass seed and plenty of water. It’s important to wait to reseed if you’ve recently sprayed your lawn with weed killer as the seeds won’t be able to grow. The water is also key here because the heat does make it tough for grass to grow. 

Now for your mowing. It’s best to keep the grass a bit longer and to let the clippings stay in place to give some nutrients and shade back into the lawn. Three inches is a good, healthy length for both old and new grass. 

If you’re looking for a chemical solution, you can use a post-emergent but this can be tricky as the wrong product will kill your grass. When in doubt, it’s best to leave this job to a professional landscaper who can advise you on the most appropriate course of action. You don’t want to accidentally burn your whole lawn while trying to save it!

Don’t forget, treating your lawn with a pre-emergent in the spring is the best way to avoid crabgrass in the first place. Crabgrass starts to germinate when the soil reaches 55 degrees, so it’s a good idea to get out there in April to ensure that your hard work is worth the effort.

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.


Help! I Can’t Keep My House Cool

Chelsea O'Donnell

After this past weekend’s mini heatwave, I had an interesting reader question pop up in my email inbox. She asked:

“Dear Bob, we live in a Cape Cod style home. This past weekend when the temperature reached almost 90 degrees, our second floor became unbearably hot. The second floor gets incredibly cold in the winter too. What can we do to help regulate the temperature so it doesn’t change with the seasons? - Nancy M., Bristol

Nancy, you’re not alone. This is a common problem in Cape Cod style homes that were built in the 1950s and 1960s. Back then, building codes were much more relaxed and energy efficiency was unheard of, so homes were built with very little insulation or ventilation.

What’s happening in your case is that the outside weather is coming in because there isn’t enough insulation to protect your home. To be even more specific, hot air is getting stuck in the attic and seeping down into the second floor because there is no ventilation to let it out. What’s worse is that the moisture in the air is also getting trapped; giving you a potential mold exposure problem that can easily go right from your attic into your lungs.

So what do you do? First, take advantage of a free insulation inspection from a local area remodeler to see how much insulation you actually have. If you haven’t had the house insulated since it was built, I can guarantee you don’t have enough. If you’ve recently bought your home, now is the time to pay close attention. 

Today, we measure insulation by its “R-Value” and the higher the R-Value, the better the insulating properties. In the 1960’s, R-Value wasn’t a popular unit of measurement and instead, most insulation was measured by its thickness in inches. To give you an example, if a typical 1960’s home was insulated at all, it was probably fitted with an R-10 value, which equates to a little over three inches of thickness. The recommended R-Value for Connecticut’s climate according to EnergyStar today is between R-49 and R-60 for an uninsulated attic and between R-38 and R-49 for a home with a few inches of pre-existing insulation. So as you can see, times they are changing.

If your house is the victim of extreme temperature changes, the easiest and best way to regulate it is to build that barrier of protection. A professional can tell you how much insulation you need and can also perform an assessment to see if any mold has formed in the attic and walls. It’s key to remember that adding insulation will change the way your home breathes, so make sure it is fitted with proper ventilation to allow for appropriate airflow. If you just experienced a cold and expensive winter in your home, this is a project to tackle now to stay comfortable all year long.

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.

Rain, Rain Go Away - Protect Your Home From Moisture

Chelsea O'Donnell

With all the rain we’ve been getting plus warming temperatures, humidity in the house is going to be a major problem for many homeowners this coming season. While we all love summer, not dealing with moisture early can make your home and uncomfortable and unhealthy place to live.

Most people combat humidity by using air conditioners, and while they can reduce the moisture in the air to some degree, this is by no means their primary function. An air conditioner works by sucking the air from your home, cooling it, and blowing it back into the house. That process does reduce the humidity slightly, but pairing your air conditioner with a dehumidifier is the best way to cool down your home so you can sleep more comfortably at night.

 A dehumidifier works by pulling the moisture out of the air and storing the excess water in a holding tank. Many people keep dehumidifiers in their basement all year long to control the dampness that can often be felt in these underground areas. This is a great idea because controlling the humidity in the dampest part of your home will very likely help to regulate the rest of the house.  One way to know if your house is holding a lot of moisture is to purchase a simple five-dollar humidity gauge, called a hygrometer, from the local hardware store. Ideally, you want the humidity level to be under 50%. If it’s higher, you might want to consider using a dehumidifier in the main part of your home, especially on hot summer days and in areas where you spend the most time.  

In addition to cooling the air and decreasing moisture, running a dehumidifier during the hottest parts of the hottest days can also prevent mold and mildew growth, eliminate musty odors in the home, and prevent old pipes from sweating. Plus, you can use the water collected in the tank to give your outdoor plants a good drink! Dehumidifiers generally run on about half the energy of an air conditioning unit, so as long as you don’t run them all day, using one shouldn’t affect your energy bill. Just be sure to keep windows and doors closed when you run your unit, and only switch the power on during the most humid time of the day, or when the air is above 50 percent humidity.

Be aware that dehumidifiers by nature are drying, so try not to run them while you’re occupying the room over a long period of time, like when you’re sleeping at night. Also, be careful about using dehumidifiers in conjunction with an attic fan. I see people do this all the time and they unintentionally throw the excess moisture from their home or basement up into their attic, where it has no place to escape. 

If you’re thinking that a dehumidifier might be a good solution for you, they come in different sizes and can be used for residential or commercial purposes. Generally, a unit will come in 25, 30 and 40-pint models, and on average a 25-pint unit will be sufficient to operate in a 1,000 square foot area.

Finally, if you have a dehumidifier, please be sure to keep the filter clean. Dust, dirt, and debris can get caught in the filter, preventing air from flowing freely and potentially circulating mold spores throughout the home. A simple wipe down with a damp cloth and spray bottle will do the trick to keep you breathing freely and ensure a longer life for your appliance. 

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.