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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States

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: leak

Winter Basement Leaks - A Common Problem To Look Out For

Chelsea O'Donnell

I often talk about the importance of proper attic ventilation to prevent leaks but as the winter peaks, the basement takes center stage as the place in the house where water damage will most likely occur.

The temperature often rises after a big storm, making moisture a huge problem for homeowners. Standing water can find its way into your basement through non-structural cracks in poured concrete walls or deteriorated joints in masonry walls. Poorly fitted or old basement windows, as well as utility openings, can also let water in.

The best line of defense against a wet basement is to make sure that the water is directed away from the foundation. Inspect your gutters and downspouts to see if they are working the way they should be and also check to see that the ground right around the house is higher than the rest of the yard. Having the yard grade at its highest around the perimeter of the foundation will ensure water drains away from the house instead of into it.  

If you think your house is susceptible to leaks, you can also use a waterproofing membrane or coating to seal the foundation or basement area. However, if you have regular leaking problems, you may need to have a drainage or sump pump system installed by a professional.

Even if you don’t have a leak problem, the basement can get pretty damp from now through April, which creates the perfect environment for nasty mold and mildew to grow and fester. To get rid of the excess water, I always like to run a dehumidifier in the basement as the weather warms up. 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 underground areas, but I find it especially useful this time of year.

You can find out if your basement is holding a lot of moisture by purchasing a simple five-dollar humidity gauge from the local hardware store. Ideally, you want the humidity to be under 50%. If it’s higher, a dehumidifier might be a good solution. Generally, a unit will come in 25, 30 and 40-pint models, and on average a 25-pint unit will be sufficient to control the moisture in a 1,000 square foot area.

One last word of advice - if you have a dehumidifier or plan on getting one, please be sure to empty it regularly and keep the filter clean. 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 the 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 www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

Don't Leave Roof Leaks To Wreak Havoc on Your Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

When rain comes like the forecast says it will, my phone starts ringing off the hook with calls to fix people’s leaky roofs. We had a dry autumn thus far, but as soon as the skies open up, the rain finds its way right into people’s homes, causing dark, damp spots on their ceilings and down their walls. With more rain in the forecast for this coming week, I wanted to address this common problem for homeowners and give you some advice to follow before the real wet and wild winter weather arrives.

If you find a leak, have it checked right away. Leaks show themselves in the walls and ceilings but it’s not always easy to find the source of the problem. Roof leaks generally only surface during bad weather and won’t cause issues when the sun is out, unlike pipe leaks can appear anytime.

To know for sure, grab a flashlight and head up into the attic. You can remove the insulation around the spot where the leak is staining the ceiling. Then look up at the pitch and see if you can see any holes or light shining through. Popular roof leak sources include valley flashing, gaskets around vents, or cracks and crevices around your chimney or utility entrances, but it’s tough to know without jumping up on the roof for an inspection which I’d leave to a professional.

If you call a contractor, he or she will want to thoroughly inspect the roof and the ceiling to find the cause of the problem. Often times they will find corrosion or lifted shingles, but in these conditions where we had a lot of leaves fall in a very short period of time, the problem could simply be coming from rainwater that can’t drain due to clogged gutters. Once the water path into the house is detected, a repair can be relatively simple, inexpensive, and might be fixed on the spot.

While many repairs are minor, it’s very important not to ignore the issue. Water traveling from the roof to the inside of your home has a lot to get through to finally appear in your ceiling, including layers of shingles, wood, and insulation. If the water sits stagnant, it becomes a breeding ground for mold growth which can deteriorate the materials that help your house stay strong. Mold can also be dangerous for your family to breathe in every day, and having it circulating through your home as you begin using your heating system can cause both short and long-term health issues, especially for young children and people with asthma.

Simply put, a roof leak isn’t something to mess with and even if it is a major issue, getting someone to give you options for dealing with it will help you plan for the work that may be inevitable. With more rain in the forecast this coming week and with winter on the way, it’s a problem that’s better for you to deal with now before it has the opportunity to get worse.

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.

Moisture Problem Under the Roof? Look to Your Plywood For Answers

Chelsea O'Donnell

I just finished a job for a homeowner, who after 30 years, was in need of a new roof. After removing the old roof, I brought his attention to something that was no surprise to me but came as a shock to him. All the plywood was completely rotted and I don’t mean just a sheet or two. The roof was hiding an entire houseful of black, rotten wood.

The homeowner couldn’t believe it. He asked me how the plywood could be so damaged if he had never had a roof leak. The answer is quite simple and a lot more common than you think. The reason this house had so much damage is the same reason that three-quarters of the roofs I replace need new plywood. The attics don’t have enough insulation and aren’t well ventilated which can easily cause deterioration from the inside out instead of the other way around.

With a roof, airflow is absolutely crucial. Attic ventilation allows your home to “breathe” by taking in the air and letting it out. Too many homes that I work in aren’t properly ventilated, in fact, most have their house vents going into the attic instead of outside! Bathroom vents are often directed into the attic and some people even point their dryer vents into the void. All of that additional moisture has nowhere to go, so it gets trapped and absorbed by the wood. After years of decay, the plywood is no longer solid like it should be.

In the colder months, I even see frost on the plywood in the attic because it’s not properly ventilated and it’s certainly not insulated. Insulation and ventilation work hand in hand - the ventilation controls the air flow and the insulation controls the temperature. You’re probably familiar with insulation - it’s is a cotton-looking fiberglass material that often comes in pink or yellow rolls. It can also be loose-filled into tough to reach areas with a blowing machine. Remodeling professionals use insulation between walls, in attics and in basements to retain heat in the house in the winter and keep it cooler in the summer. However, without proper ventilation, the insulation is just as susceptible to moisture and deterioration as the plywood.

My customer didn’t venture into his attic, so he never noticed the problem. What he thought was a simple roof replacement ended up being a bigger job simply because, after years of decay, the plywood he had was no longer strong enough to properly support the new roof. Ignoring the problem would have voided the roof’s 30-year warranty.

The lesson for this week? If you’re going to reroof your home, make sure that the plywood is healthy and that your contractor has given you a thorough plan to ensure that your home is properly insulated and ventilated. It might cost a bit more today, but it will regulate the heat and cooling in your home for years to come, saving you on energy costs and giving you more comfort as well as peace of mind for the health of your house.

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.