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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: rot

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 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.


Don’t Let a Poor Installation Void Your Roof Warranty

Chelsea O'Donnell

If you’re like me, you’ve been keeping an eye on the situation in eastern Connecticut where over 30,000 homeowners are dealing with cracking and crumbling foundations. It pains me to see people wrestling with insurance companies and pleading with government agencies for assistance, all while worrying if they’re safe sleeping in their own home at night.

When it comes to building or remodeling a house, two of the things many homeowners rightly need to worry about are defective products and improper installations. After 40 years of being in business, I know all too well how a job that's incorrectly done can cause a homeowner time, money, and headaches that could have easily been avoided if the job had been done right in the first place

About one-quarter of the jobs I get called to today are to inspect a roof that has been installed incorrectly by someone else. A homeowner will call me up wondering why their brand new roof is leaking, or why there is mold growing in their attic, and I have to give them bad news. Not only was the job done wrong, but their product warranty is also void.

Choosing to get a new roof can be a nerve-wracking process, but even more so if poor installation ends up leaving you with a useless warranty and a massive out-of-pocket expense. Most roofing manufacturers offer a 30-year warranty on their products, but that peace of mind is only good if the installer takes the correct measures to properly ventilate the attic. Without that ventilation, you can kiss your warranty goodbye.

Ventilating a home enables good air to get in and bad air to get out. A ventilation system is comprised of 50 percent intake and 50 percent exhaust, whereby air can get pulled in under the eaves of a home and can escape at or near the peak of the roof, ensuring there is constant circulation and no threat of moisture buildup or too much heat.

If moisture builds up in the attic, mold spores will begin to grow. Excess heat will feed that mold, enabling it to colonize and infiltrate the insulation and wood in your attic. In the winter, moisture can become frost, which will melt as the air warms, causing “rain” to seep down into your walls and ceiling. If you think these issues sound rare, they’re not. Only 10 percent of homes are properly ventilated, which is partially due to poor education on the importance of ventilating a home, and partially due to “cutting corners” during the installation process.

Sometimes, when dealing with a faulty product like those folks in eastern Connecticut, there is very little a homeowner can do. But if you’re in the market for the big remodeling job, you as the homeowner can always ask questions, do your research and understand the steps necessary to ensure that your roof, siding, or other home improvement job is being done correctly. For us pros, an educated homeowner is the best kind of customer.  

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.