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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: insects

Don't Let Winter Be a Time for Rodent Infestation

Chelsea O'Donnell

I recently received a question from a reader that I thought I’d share with all of you. She asked, “When the colder weather sets in, I sometimes get mice or rats in my house. I assume they are looking for a warm place to settle in and find food, but they aren’t welcome here! How can I deter them this year?”

My reader is right - her rodent problem absolutely has to do with the little buggers looking for a nice warm place to hide out from the winter weather and to grab a meal while they’re at it. Here are a few simple tips to reduce the chances of them making a home in yours.

Firstly, seal off the premises. Make sure doors and screens are always closed tight, and look for breaks, rips or holes that lead outside Generally caulk is a good sealant, but weather stripping around windows and installing new door sweeps on doors will keep insects and small animals out and will do double duty by helping to insulate your home for winter.

For bigger areas such as the chimney, you can use a thick wire mesh to keep the critters out, just make sure the material is thick enough that it can’t be chewed through. Believe it or not, a mouse can get through a hole the size of a dime, so be diligent in your search for entry points.

Another tip is to make sure you don’t leave any food lying around. Mice and rats are pretty resilient to the cold, but they have to eat to survive and looking for a meal in your house is a lot easier than trying to find one outside in the cold. Many pet owners leave animal food out for long periods of time, which makes a delicious meal for a rodent. If a mouse can get into your house, the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to stay. Keep that food, pet or otherwise, sealed up tight.

If you have a garden that thrives through the autumn, that’s most likely where your rodents are coming from. They are smart, and they’ll be waiting to dart through your door at a moment’s notice. As a general rule of thumb, keep edible plants at least a few feet from any door, and the same goes for your garbage bins.

If your home is susceptible to rodents and you’ve tried to get rid of them with no luck, you might want to consider having the problem dealt with by a pest control professional. There are plenty of traps, sprays, and natural solutions on the market, but using the wrong deterrent might drive pests up into the walls where they can start chewing on wires and causing longer term, more expensive damage.

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.

Keep Termites Away From Your House

Chelsea O'Donnell

Keep Termites Away From Your House

For such a tiny pest, termites can cause very big problems to the structure of your home. According to pest control company, Terminix, termites cause roughly $500 billion in damage and affect approximately four million homes each year. That’s more than the damage caused by fires, floods and tornadoes put together.

There are two different types of termites – subterranean and drywood. Subterranean are a bit more common in warm coastal areas such as the southeast, and drywood can be found anywhere in the United States. Both are damaging, although subterranean are the ones you really want to avoid.

There are three telltale signs that you might have a termite problem. The first and most obvious is seeing them. Termites thrive in the darkness, but they are attracted to light, which also happens to kill them.  If you have termites in your home, you might start to see bodies or wings on windowsills or next to light fixtures, although termites are light colored and can be difficult to spot and distinguish. Another way to know if you have termites is if you discover mud tubes. These straw-sized tunnels are where termites live and can often be found around baseboards, pipes or chimneys. Then, of course, there is hollow wood. If you suspect that you might have a termite issue, use the base of a screwdriver to tap around baseboards, windowsills, and other easily accessible framing. Hollow wood has a very different sound than healthy wood and you’ll easily be able to hear the distinction.

Termites can’t get through concrete but they only need 1/32 of an inch to enter your home or business, and yes, they really do eat wood. Termites generally get to a foundation through the soil and then find a crack or hole to make their way to wood. Decks and porches are often good entry points and anything that’s holding moisture will enable the insects to survive and thrive. That woodpile on the side of your house is a Garden of Eden for termites, especially if it sits uncovered and collects moisture during rainstorms. Overall, a termite swarm is looking for moist wood to form its colony. So, if you’re house has drainage issues or if your gutters and downspouts aren’t doing their job properly, you might be harvesting a breeding ground without even knowing it.

If you think you might have termites, it’s a good idea to call a local expert to do a test, especially if any of your neighbors have recently experienced a problem. There are different types of termites with different habits and triggers, but all of them can be harmful to your home. It’s tough for the average person to spot and identify a termite, so calling a professional in for a routine check will give you peace of mind and give you the tools and knowledge you need to protect your home from any future damage. With termites, it’s better to get the problem sorted as early as possible before they take an expensive bite out of your biggest asset.