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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: insulate

10 Home Maintenance Jobs To Get Prepped For Fall

Chelsea O'Donnell

Summer may be unofficially over but with the first day of autumn still a few weeks away, there is plenty of time to get your home and yard in tip-top shape before the cooler weather sets in. With the countdown on, I’ve rounded up the most important jobs for you to tackle to get ready for the fall. Let’s get busy!

Clean windows and inspect for gaps.

If you have window A/C units, tackle this job as you’re removing them. Windows are a prime culprit for heat loss, so have a look at all the windows in your home to see if you have any gaps. Small cracks and crevices can be sealed with caulk, but you’ll want to fill larger gaps with insulation or expandable foam. If you have single pane aluminum windows and you’re freezing every winter, it might be time for an upgrade. 

Clean and store outdoor furniture.

If furniture is left outdoors during the winter, it will likely crack, split or rust - depending on the material.  Before you turn it in for the winter, be sure to clean it well to avoid rot or damage and check for signs of mold and mildew. A thorough wash with hot soapy water or household cleaner will do the trick.

Reseal your deck.

The summer sun can be brutal on your deck, but so is the onset of snow, sleet, and freezing rain that we can expect over the next several months. Protect your wood by removing any leaves, sticks and those pesky helicopters, and follow it up with a good power wash. When the wood is dry, apply a protective sealant to condition the deck and help it stand up to winter. 

Inspect your doors and apply weatherstripping.

Just like your windows, your doors are prime areas for air leaks. Inspect the areas around your doors and make sure they are airtight by repairing any old weatherstripping or broken door sweeps. Heating a home all winter costs a lot of money so don’t make it more expensive than it should be. An energy efficient home is a happy home.

Patch that leaky roof.

If the summer rain uncovered a leak in your ceiling or attic, don’t wait to have it looked at. The unpredictable winter can be a disaster for a roof that’s already damaged, so don’t hold out until it’s too late. Often times a small repair can stop the problem in its tracks. 

Clean your gutters and check for clogs. 

I went into detail about this one last week but it’s worth another mention. We’re in for a stellar leaf peeping season, but for us homeowners that also means a lot of headaches in the clean-up department. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are prepared for the seasonal shed and flush everything through to ensure the water flow-through is up to par.

Get adequate insulation.

If you’re dreading another teeth-chattering winter, it’s time to add some insulation to your home. Over 75 percent of houses that I visit in our area don’t have enough insulation and because of it, I get too many calls from frozen homeowners wondering what they can do. Insulation is inexpensive to install, can be done in less than a day and adds more to the resale value of your home than any other project. This one is a no brainer.

Scrub out your garbage cans.

As the cold sets in, our furry friends get more desperate for food and will start visiting your trash looking for a free meal. Their sense of smell is uncanny so make sure your bins are cleaned out and future garbage is bagged properly. You don’t want rodents making their homes too close to yours.

Replace your air filters.

If your A/C has been cranking all summer, it’s a great time to clean and/or replace your air filtration systems. While you’re at it, have a look at all your vents including the dryer and remove any built-up debris. The harder those appliances have to work, the more they are going to cost you. 

Inspect the hot water heater.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Check your water heater for any decay or sediment build-up and be on the lookout for leaks or faulty pipes. If you have an inkling that the unit might be on the fritz, call in a pro for a routine inspection. It’s better to be safe than sorry come winter. 

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.


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.

Let Your House Breathe and Say Goodbye to Dangerous Moisture

Chelsea O'Donnell

You hear me talk a lot about the importance of insulation in the home, especially at this time of year and with our recent, frigid temperatures. But even if you’re the one in every four houses I visit that actually does have the right amount of insulation, 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. 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 airflow in 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 temperatures rise enough for the water to thaw and then be absorbed into all the places 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, you’re going to be susceptible to mold, mildew and bacteria growth.

Remember, attic ventilation allows your home 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 to 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.