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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: improvement

What To Look For When Shopping For an Energy Efficient Entry Door

Chelsea O'Donnell

Many people don’t give much thought to their front door, which is surprising considering that it both sets the tone for a home and is a huge contributor to its overall comfort level.

If you’re in the market for a new entry door, there are a lot of factors to take into consideration beyond just color and style. I’m a huge fan of energy efficiency and all too often, I see homeowners losing massive amounts of hot and cold air through ill-fitting old doors with little insulation. Luckily, consumers have some great resources in their corner which can make choosing a new door a real breeze.

Energy performance is often measured by ENERGY STAR®, the symbol created by the Environmental Protection Agency to measure energy efficiency here in the United States. Another label you may see is from the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), which independently tests and certifies products to give consumers more transparency around efficiency. Both of these rating systems rely on several vital performance contributors that you’ll want to pay attention to. Let’s take a closer look.

  1. U-Factor measures how well the product keeps heat from escaping a room, which is vital to our cold winters. It’s important to look for a low number here, which identifies a high performing product. Ratings generally range from 0.20-1.20.

  2. Solar Heat Gain Coefficient or (SHGC) measures the opposite. This rating helps a homeowner to know how well a product can resist heat gain, which is crucial in the summer. Again, the lower the number, the better - with 0-1 being the range for this measurement.

  3. Air Leakage is exactly what it sounds like and if you’ve ever stood next to a door with worn weatherstripping, you’ll know how important it is. Look for a product with a low air leakage rating, generally expressed in units of cubic feet per minute per square foot of the frame area (cfm/ft2). This measure is also highly dependent on the installation of the product, so having a knowledgeable installer is critical.

  4. Sunlight is another important factor which is measured through Visible Transmittance or VT. VT is a fraction of the visible spectrum of sunlight that is transmitted through the glazing of a door and weighted by the sensitivity of the human eye. This is measured in nanometers on a scale of 0 to 1. The lower the number, the less the light is transmitted.

  5. Finally, Light-to-Solar Gain (LSG) is the ratio of SHGC to VT and helps homeowners understand how light is transmitted relative to heat gain. The higher the number, the more light that is transmitted without adding heat. This number isn’t always provided but can be useful depending on the positioning of your door and its exposure to the sun.

Don’t forget, exterior doors should look great, but their key function is to provide a barrier against the elements. When you’re shopping for one, keep these factors in the forefront of your mind and you’ll be taking all the steps necessary to maintain your family’s comfort for years to come.

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 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 Let Your Home Get Drafty This Winter

Chelsea O'Donnell

If your house has old doors, winter can be a drafty time of year. Luckily, there is an easy, do-it-yourself fix to help you keep the cold air out and the warm air in where it belongs. Here is my guide to sealing your doors before the real cold sets in.

Examine your current weatherstripping for any rips, bends or wear and tear. In older doors, the seals usually deteriorate before the doors themselves, which will allow air to pass through. If you can feel a draft coming from the edges around a closed door, it’s time to give them a little facelift. However, if the door is damaged, sagging, or rattling, it might be time for a new one entirely.

Measure the top and sides of your door jambs with precision; you want the fit to be snug and airtight. I always say, measure twice and buy once! Once you measure the doors, you’ll find the materials that you need either at the local hardware store or online on any home improvement retail site. In addition to weather stripping, you might also need a sweep, which is the strip along the bottom of the door that looks like a tiny broom and keeps the gap between the door and the floor sealed. If yours is damaged or has broken off in parts, now is a good time to replace it. Luckily, basic individual weatherstrips and sweeps can cost as little as $10 each, which is a lot less than investing in a new door.

Just like painting, when you start weatherproofing you’ll need to begin on a clean surface. Scrape any old debris so the gap is free and clear. You want to make sure your gap is in good shape to lay the strips evenly and you need to have enough room for the strips to grip properly.

Finally, you can install your new weatherstripping. Cut it to size before you put it in the groove and ensure that you don’t stretch the material to fit – it will return to its original size and leave you short. Secure it firmly into the groove and open and close the door to look for any protrusions or gaps.

Weatherstripping is a quick, inexpensive fix that will help you stay warmer in the winter and give your heating bill a noticeable break. But just like any home improvement tasks, if you’re not comfortable using basic tools and equipment, you might want to leave the job to a professional. Either way, keep your family warm this winter and take some time for yourself to enjoy the holiday season.

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 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.

A Rec Room Remodel Makes for the Perfect Pre-Winter Project

Chelsea O'Donnell

As the weather turns colder, now is a great time to think about giving the kids some play space to help them explore their imaginations without turning your house upside down. Plus, who doesn’t want a designated zone to kick back and enjoy Sunday football or a place to get the whole family together for a winter movie marathon? So this week, let’s talk about how to turn that unused basement into a recreation area that can keep the family occupied while keeping the rest of your home intact.

One of the greatest outcomes of a basement remodel is that it gives you the opportunity to go through all your old belongings and get rid of anything that’s past its use by date. As we get closer to winter, our shelters will be in need of extra warm clothes and furniture banks like Bristol’s For Goodness Sake can use additional inventory to make a family feel at home this holiday season. Decluttering is a great start for any remodeling project and the additional room and space will make the project much easier to tackle.

Once your space is clear, you can start to develop your floor plan. You want to think about what it will be used for today, but you’ll also want to consider future plans. As the kids grow, will it be easy to transform that arts and crafts nook into a movie room? If it’s a large space, are there ways that you can divide it to create different areas of enjoyment for everyone in the family? Be practical and be sure to take measurements. There’s no use buying a regulation pool table or having a custom bar made if you can’t fit it through the door!

Once you have an idea of your layout, my next step would be to evaluate the moisture situation. Because basements are underground and most have cement walls, they are generally damp, dark places that can attract mold. If you get water in your basement after a big rain storm, you’ll want to have that taken care of before any remodeling work starts. You don’t want to be dealing with flooding after a new carpet has just been installed and you definitely don’t want your kids spending their snow days in a place that’s festering with mildew.

Another thing to think about is your mechanical systems. It’s expensive to rewire and move around furnaces and hot water systems, so try to design around them. If it’s not possible, be prepared to factor the plumbing and wiring work into your overall budget.

If you’re starting from scratch and need to build walls and ceilings, it’s important to note that the materials you use may be different than the ones on the floors above. Assuming the basement is dry, you’ll want to make sure to insulate it before installing any drywall. You’ll also want to inspect any pipes for leaks or condensation before covering them up. Sealing gaps, insulating pipes, and waterproofing any potential problem areas before you start your framing will make your life a whole lot easier than having to deal with an issue once your walls are up.

That’s all for this week, but check back in next Friday when we’ll talk about insider tips and pitfalls to avoid when creating the rec room of your dreams.

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.