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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: hygrometer

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.

Window Condensation? A Common Spring Problem To Resolve

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week a reader asked a great question, “My windows are constantly fogged up and I’m not sure why. How can I fix them?”

Window condensation is such a common problem and it happens in homes with too much humidity. If your house is old or new, it doesn’t matter. When the humidity inside the home is higher than the humidity outside, your glass windows and doors will start to show condensation, especially at this time of year when evening temperatures hover around 40 degrees.

Homes should be at about 50 percent humidity. When they are higher, the glass in your home will act as a dehumidifier and the excess moisture will collect on it in an attempt to get rid of the water from the air. Newer homes are built tightly, which makes it harder for moisture to escape. Older homes can let too much moisture from the outside in. This is why condensation doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to any house.

So what can you do to either prevent condensation or get rid of a problem that you already have? Step one is to purchase a hygrometer which is the instrument to measure humidity. As I said, 50 percent humidity inside the home is what you’re aiming for, but anything from 45 to 55 percent is fine. If your hygrometer is measuring 60 to 70 percent or higher, you’ll want to take immediate action. While condensation on windows is unsightly and annoying, mold and mildew growth is much worse.

If you have condensation, here are a few ideas to get rid of it quickly and effectively.

Turn Down Your Humidifier. If you’re using one, it’s working! By releasing less moisture into the air, you’ll reduce your condensation problems.

Buy a Dehumidifier. If your house is constantly damp, a moisture eliminator is going to be crucial. Lots of homeowners run dehumidifiers in their basement all the time but keeping one going upstairs might be necessary. If you are running slightly more humid in rooms such as the bathrooms or the laundry room, try a refillable moisture absorber such as DampRid.

Use Your Fans. Bathroom and kitchen fans are there for a reason. Cooking a dish that lets off lots of steam or taking long showers both create tons of extra water. Extractor fans can help to remove that moisture. Let them run for 10 minutes after use.

Open the Windows. Air circulation is key, so open up those windows and make good use of ceiling fans. Also, make sure you check the humidity in the attic, as heat tends to rise. You may find that your first and second floors have entirely different humidity levels and need to be treated independently.

Insulate! Because condensation is caused by heat and moisture, it’s a good idea to make sure your home is insulated to make the air easier to control. Insulation can be as simple as weatherstripping and door sealing depending on the level of wall and attic insulation in your home. If you’re not sure how much insulation you have, call a contractor to give you an assessment and free quote.

Spring and summer are much wetter seasons than fall and winter, so be sure to check your moisture levels often. As the humidity rises outside, a house that doesn’t “breathe” properly will be susceptible to a number of problems. Consider foggy windows as a warning sign and take action right away to avoid potentially expensive repairs and hazardous breathing conditions in the future.

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.


Ventilation is Key to a Safe, Healthy Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

I’m not shy about educating my customers about the importance of insulation in the home, especially during this time of year and with our recent, frigid temperatures. But even if you’re the one in every four people I talk to who has the right amount of insulation in their house, chances are that your ventilation is inadequate, which can be harming both your home and your personal health in more ways than you think.

In the winter, we crank up the thermostat, sending more heat and moisture into the living quarters of our homes than any other time of year. We all know that heat rises to the top, which means a lot of what we’re pumping into the house will quickly find its way through the ceiling and into the attic. Now, think about when you’re in a car and the windows fog up. What do you do? Usually, you’ll increase the airflow either by using the vents or just cracking a window. A house works much the same way, except that if you don’t have air flowing inside the attic, the heat and moisture just gets stuck there. If the attic is very warm, that moisture will develop into mold and mildew which can fester in your insulation and rot the wood. If the attic is cold enough, the moisture will freeze into little domes or even icicles until the temperature rises enough for the water to thaw and then be absorbed into all the places that it shouldn’t be going. Neither is a good scenario.

So what’s the best way to protect your home? Start by investing in a hygrometer which measures water vapor in the air. A comfortable humidity reading is 30%-60%, but 45%-55% is an ideal level to maintain. If you’re seeing higher than 60% humidity in any area of your home, it’s going to be susceptible to mold, mildew and bacteria growth.

Remember, attic ventilation allows your house to “breathe” so you want to balance your intake and exhaust to ensure that what is coming in is going out equally. The best ventilation system will include soffit vents which are installed underneath the overhang of the roof and take in the air and ridge vents which are installed at the top of the roof for the hot air to escape. For this method to work efficiently, all louvered vents must be sealed off and you have to ensure that your insulation isn’t blocking the airflow. Believe it or not, most roof manufacturers will void the warranty if a proper ventilation system is not installed. Luckily, new roofing technology enables contractors to add intake ventilation directly into the roof as opposed to using soffit vents, so if you’re in the market for a new roof, be sure to ask for that option.

It’s important to note that homes have different characteristics and what works well for one may not work well for another. With the right balance of air, homeowners can optimize their roof and maintain the overall health of their home and their families, but it’s always a good idea to get advice from a professional before taking on a big remodeling project. Stay warm friends.

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.