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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: leaking

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.

Don’t Overlook Those Downspouts During Fall Leaf Prep

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you’re a homeowner, chances are that leaf maintenance is in your very near future. With the beauty of autumn nearly always comes clogged gutters that when left uncleaned can make a big mess come winter. But while some people are excellent about keeping those gutter debris-free, it’s the often overlooked downspouts that can become compacted, leading to overflows in the gutters and potential leaks in the roof. So if you’ve never done it before, now is the perfect time to give those downspouts a good clean out and give yourself the peace of mind of a leak-free roof come fall.

A downspout is the most important part of your roof drainage system as it allows all the water that flows down into the gutters to move away from the foundation of the home. A properly installed gutter system will let rain and melted snow drain off the roof quickly, and the downspout will ensure that the water doesn’t land where it’s not supposed to. Without a downspout, gutters will overflow and run down into the home, causing leaks in the basement. If it’s winter and the snow and ice can’t move, the water will find itself a new home in your attic. Either of these scenarios is a major headache for a home owner, so don’t let it happen to you. Let’s clean those downspouts.

For this job, you’ll need a ladder, a scoop, a bag for debris, a cordless drill and a shovel or long handle about an inch wide. If you have a plumbing snake, that will work well too. 

Always start by cleaning out the gutters first. Remove any old leaves and sticks with a scoop or by hand. Once you’ve cleaned the gutters, give them a rinse with the hose and keep an eye out for any leaks. Small issues can be caulked, but if you see a lot of leaking, you might need to call a professional in for a repair. 

Next, make your way to the elbow of the gutter system where the main gutter meets the downspout. Back out the screws in the upper and lower parts of the elbow to remove the joining piece. Look to see if there is any debris caught and remove it with a strong water stream, the end of a shovel, or your plumbing snake. Then look down the barrel of the downspout to see if you can see light at the other end. Use the hose to clear any debris and check for back-ups. If dirt, leaves, and sticks have been compacted, use the end of the shovel to gently push the gunk out of the bottom of the downspout. Be careful and make sure you don’t damage or dent the pipe. I like to use the hose both on the top and bottom of the downspout to ensure it’s absolutely free and clear. 

Once everything is cleaned out, you can screw the downspout back into place and do one final flush with the hose. Just remember, any home improvement projects involving a ladder can be dangerous, so make sure you’re on firm, steady ground and ask a friend for some help. If you’re not comfortable with heights, call a professional to do the cleaning for you. No DIY project is worth a trip to the emergency room. 

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. Get in touch here

Help! I Have Icicles in My Attic

Chelsea O'Donnell

Not long ago I received a question from a reader who lives in an older home in the Bristol area. She wrote to me because she had gone to get something that was stored in her attic and noticed that there were icicles hanging off the framing inside. She wasn’t sure how they got there but she was worried and reached out to ask my advice. I’m so glad she did.

It might be hard to believe that icicles can form inside the house, but in many older homes that lack proper insulation and ventilation, the attic can become a magnet for condensation, which will freeze when it gets cold enough and the moisture has nowhere to go.

We all know that heat rises, and when we heat our homes in the winter, a lot of that warm air moves up through our ceilings and into the attic, rising all the way up to where it should be able to pass through the vents to the outside. However, if those vents aren’t working properly, the condensation and air have nowhere to go, so it collects on any cold surface below the dew point and turns into frost. After a while, this frost builds up to form icicles. The more moisture that builds up in the attic, the worse the problem will become. As temperatures rise and that ice and frost start to melt, it can saturate your insulation with water, causing mold and mildew problems as well as potential leaks in your ceiling. What’s worse is this isn’t even just a winter problem. Condensation build up can cause issues in your attic all year long.

So how do you stop the condensation from forming? Your first move is to look for sources that are pushing excess warm air into the attic. If you have a whole house fan, it’s a wise move to cover it as the louvers are letting your valuable heat escape quite easily. Bathroom fans are another sure bet for letting air through and they will cause major condensation issues if they are blowing into the attic instead of venting directly outside. Finally, make sure your folding stairway is covered over with an insulated box or weather stripping to avoid losing that extra heat.

While sealing off places that allow excess heat to get into the attic is a great idea, the one thing you never want to do is seal off your attic vents. Attic ventilation is a system which includes intake vents in the soffit and exhaust vents at the roof’s ridge. If these vents get sealed or blocked, there is nowhere for the condensation to go, so it gets trapped and can easily manifest into a leak. Believe it or not, the average family of four generates two to four gallons of water vapor each day from cooking, cleaning, showering, laundry, and breathing. If that water is left sitting in the attic, you’re going to have a problem.

These freezing temperatures give you a great opportunity to take a look up in your attic to see if you have any frost or icicles culminating in your home. Next week I’ll tell you more about how to properly ventilate and insulate an attic to make sure your property isn’t prone to leaks and other condensation-based damage 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.