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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: roof

What's Under the Roof?

Chelsea O'Donnell

I recently did work for a homeowner who got the shock of her life when we removed her old roof and found sheet after sheet of black, rotten plywood. The homeowner couldn’t believe it and asked me how the plywood could be so damaged if she had never had a roof leak. 

The answer is quite simple and a lot more common than you think. In our area of Connecticut, nearly all attics don’t have enough insulation and aren’t ventilated properly. I meet people who need a new roof and want me to just lay an extra layer of shingles over top of what they already have to save money. What they don’t realize is how much deterioration exists that they simply can’t see.

With a roof, airflow is absolutely crucial. Attic ventilation allows your home to “breathe” by taking in air from the outside and letting out air from the inside. Too many homes that I work in aren’t properly ventilated, in fact, most have their bathroom and even dryer vents going into the attic instead of outside. In order to have proper ventilation, your home needs a system that includes intake ventilation through the soffit or a new product called SmartVent which is installed on top of the roof near the gutter edge. Louver vents were typically used at an exhaust vent in the 1950’s and 1960’s but now ridge vents are more common. If your house has both louver vents and ridge vents, the louver vents should remain closed, otherwise, the louver will act as an intake vent and will only cool the top third of the attic. 

In the colder months, it’s not uncommon for me to see frost on attic plywood because of subpar insulation. Insulation and ventilation work hand in hand - the ventilation controls the airflow and the insulation controls the temperature. You’re probably familiar with insulation - it’s 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 her attic, so she never noticed the problem. What she thought was a simple roof replacement ended up being a bigger job simply because after years of decay, the plywood she had was no longer strong enough to properly support the new roof. Ignoring the problem would have voided the new 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.


Clean Your Gutters Now For Leaf Relief Come Fall

Chelsea O'Donnell

It may only be August but we’ll soon see the early signs of autumn. In other words, leaf maintenance season is right around the corner. Over the next two months, leaves, branches, and other debris will begin falling onto your roof and down into your gutters, building up over time. As winter approaches, this buildup can contribute to the formation of ice dams, a heavy mass of ice that settles onto the edge of your roof where the gutters are installed.

The main function of a gutter is to create a pathway for water to move away from your home and through a downspout to deposit in a safe place away from your home’s foundation. This system is vital to a house; it makes sure water can flow freely and not cause leaks in your roof, attic, and walls. But if your gutters are blocked up, the water has nowhere to go and has no choice but to flow over, creeping up into your roof shingles and down through your siding. This kind of damage is both costly to repair and entirely preventable. 

To give your gutters a good clean you’ll need a ladder, a lawn bag or bucket, a small hand rake (or scoop) and a hose. Don’t be tempted to spray debris down the downspout with water; it’s likely that branches and leaves will get stuck inside, clogging it up and leaving you with a whole new mess to deal with.  Start at the downspout opening and work your way backward, collecting gunk away from the downspout and disposing it into your bucket. Work in small sections and don’t let your bag get too heavy – it could throw you off balance and land you in the emergency room. 

While you’re making your way around the house, check for any gutter damage, such as sections coming loose. You want to make sure you get those fixed while the weather is good. Once you’ve finished cleaning, you can give each section a good spray with the hose to check and make sure the water is running through and you don’t have any hidden build-up in those downspouts.

If gutter cleaning is a job you’d rather not take on, hire a contractor to complete the maintenance and then speak to them about putting gutter guards on your home. These wire or mesh overlays are installed on top of the gutter and prevent debris from entering the channel in the first place. They offer a great solution to a messy job and will provide you with peace of mind for years to come. If you see me around town installing them for homeowners, feel free to say hello and ask any questions you may have. 

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.


In the Market for a New Roof? Know Your Options

Chelsea O'Donnell

With April showers often come leaks, which means roof replacement is on lots of homeowner’s minds this time of year. When thinking about a new roof, finding the right contractor, negotiating the best price, and deciding on the color and style are just a few of the options to navigate. But in the past, one thing homeowners often didn’t have to think about was the material, as asphalt roofs have been the most popular choice in our area for their cost-effectiveness and durability. But recently, metal has begun increasing in popularity. While metal roofs are more common in areas of the country with more extreme weather conditions, it’s always good to know about the different options available. So let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of asphalt and metal roofs to help you make the best decision for your home.

The Asphalt Roof

Asphalt is the most popular choice with homeowners for a variety of reasons, but the single most important factor is almost always the price. The average cost to purchase the materials for an asphalt roof is nearly one-third of the cost of a metal roof. That cost differentiation gives asphalt the leg up almost every time. In addition to being the more cost-effective option of the two choices, there is a lot to love about asphalt. Individual shingles give a homeowner lots of color and design choices, and they are faster to install than a metal roof, often taking just a few days of labor. While most asphalt roofs come with a 30-year warranty, they are easy to repair if damaged, and a small section can be replaced without having to get a whole new roof. The material also performs exceptionally well in the rain, heat, sleet, and snow.

Of course, there are a few negative aspects of asphalt roofing that homeowners should be aware of. If you’re installing a new asphalt roof, I always recommend removing the old roof before installing new material, which does add to the labor cost. Another negative factor is the chance that mold, mildew, and algae will grow if a roof is shaded and stays damp for long periods of time. Also, while our Connecticut weather isn’t as severe as other parts of the country, very high winds can loosen shingles if they aren’t installed properly.

The Metal Roof

Even though they aren’t as common in our area, metal roofs have some very attractive qualities that make them worth considering. Firstly, the material is lighter than traditional asphalt roofs, and the metal sheets can often be installed right over regular asphalt as long as it doesn’t have water damage or rotten plywood underneath. Metal roofs also last longer than asphalt roofs, and maintenance is minimal. Mold and mildew cannot grow on metal so if you live in a damp area with lots of shade, this might be a worthwhile benefit. Another plus is that metal roofs are energy efficient all year round, helping to keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Plus they perform very well in areas with very high-level snowfall.

Of course, there are a few cons that homeowners should be aware of, and the biggest one is cost. While metal roofs do last longer, the upfront cost can be three times as much as an asphalt roof. Additionally, if a metal roof needs to be repaired, that will also cost more as metal roofs are made in sheets and need to be replaced in that way. From an aesthetic perspective, metal roofs do come in different colors, but there aren't many more options in terms of design and aesthetic. Finally, it’s important to know that without the proper plywood installation and insulation, metal roofs can be noisy, which might not be a con for people who love the sound of rain storms.

No matter which material you use, it’s important to do your research to find the best product for your individual home. The right roof with the right contractor at the right price will ensure that you live comfortably with peace of mind for many 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 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.