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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: rotten

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.


Siding Layers Cause Problems Down the Track

Chelsea O'Donnell

One of my readers sent me a question that I thought I would share this week. She said, “Dear Bob, we are thinking about getting our house re-sided but we are unsure if we should have our old wood shakes removed or if it’s better to just put new vinyl siding over the top of the old material. What would you suggest?”

I love this question because it addresses an issue that I see all the time on the job. If you’re having new siding installed and you’re on a budget, your contractor may suggest just leaving the old material on the home so they don’t have to charge you for the extra time and labor it takes to rip it off. While this is absolutely an option, there are a few reasons why it’s better to have the shakes removed and start fresh.

Firstly, the only way to check for water or termite damage is to get behind the original wood or siding material. If you’ve had issues with leaks in the past, this will only get worse if the new siding is laid over existing, rotting material.

Another point is that installing vinyl siding on top of another material such as wood shakes is difficult because it’s not a flat surface. This makes it more likely that the new siding will warp or show bumps, and it becomes increasingly probable that water will get underneath. If you’re thinking that an issue like that would be covered by the product's warranty, you’re wrong. Most siding manufacturers will void a warranty on a product that’s laid over an existing layer because it hasn’t been installed the way it was intended to be.

Something else to think about is that when you layer siding, it ends up sticking out further than your windows, which can obstruct the view outside and will leave the windows very susceptible to leak problems. I’ve seen this same issue on homes with shallow roof eaves. When there isn’t enough room for the water to run away from the house, it runs down the siding and eventually into it.

Finally, ripping away the old material and putting on new gives you the opportunity to put more insulation in your home, which keeps it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. A full wrap also protects your home from potential damage and ensures that the warranty will stick if anything was to happen.

So, in a nutshell, I completely understand why a homeowner would want to put new siding on top of their existing material and I agree that the option will offer cost savings in the short term. The question I would ask is if it’s worth the risk of potential problems that can arise during the lifetime of the newly installed product. My advice is to make sure to weigh all your options and ask plenty of questions before you make your decision. Good luck!

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. Get in touch.