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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: shovel

Bob’s Favorite Fall Must-Haves for Easy Autumn Maintenance

Chelsea O'Donnell

The temperature is officially turning which means now is a great time to start getting ready for the rapid changing of seasons. There is nothing worse than being unprepared, so today I have compiled my list of the must-have products and services that you should invest in to keep your home clean, warm, and well maintained from now right through the winter. Let’s get to it.

Gutter Guards. Most homeowners don’t love the idea of getting up on a roof, but leaving your gutters to clog up with leaves can cause major problems as winter sets in. Gutter guards work as a shield over your gutters, allowing the water to pass through while repelling leaves, whirlybirds, twigs, and other potential blockages. I install gutter guards several times a week and it’s definitely not a one-size fits every house situation. Be sure to get a professional to come out and give you a recommendation before you buy.

Weatherstripping. If you have an older home, you likely feel a lot of air passing through your doors and windows. If you’re not quite ready for a full replacement, weatherstripping can help you to retain some of the heat in your home. Hardware stores generally carry felt, foam, and my personal favorite, vinyl tubing, which lasts the longest.  Most can be installed by a handy homeowner in just a few hours.

A Really Good Rake. Cleaning up the yard is backbreaking work, especially if you don’t have the right equipment. One of my favorite rakes is the Fiskars Leaf Rake with Cushioned Grip which has a wide head that can move a ton of leaves with one grab. Best of all, it’s under $20. If you have a lot of smaller areas, the Gardenite Adjustable Garden Leaf Rake is another great option to tackle tight spots.

A Cordless Blower. With a good rake should come a good blower, but many don’t have the power to blast wet leaves and move around the yard efficiently. I am loving the Powersmith 40V Max Battery-Powered Leaf Jet Blower which blows at 120 miles per hour and is cordless so I can get right to the very edges of my property. What’s really great is the cruise control so I don’t have to hold down the trigger to keep the machine at the right level of power.

A Furnace Inspection. It’s a good idea to make sure your furnace or boiler is in tip-top shape before the cold weather comes. Book an inspection now and be sure to change your filters to make sure everything is running smoothly. In addition to the peace of mind, a quick tune-up will help you save on your energy bills too.

A Great Snow Shovel. Connecticut winters are unpredictable so it’s a good idea to be ready. According to reviews, the True Temper 18-Inch Ergonomic Mountain Mover takes the cake with its 18-inch plastic scoop, curved shaft, and nylon leading edge which protects sensitive surfaces like a deck or patio. It’s not cheap at between $25 and $30, but a good shovel can last for years, so it’s well worth the investment.

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.

Late Winter Storms Call for Ice Dam Education

Chelsea O'Donnell

If the snow shoveling and ice chipping haven’t been enough for you yet, this latest winter storm has given us one more hazard to contend with. I’m talking about ice dams, one of the meanest bi-products of winter weather and one to most certainly be on the lookout for during this last blitz of cold before spring.

An ice dam forms when heavy snow blankets the roof, forming an extra layer of insulation. As warm air rises from your house and up through your attic, it causes the layer of snow closest to the roof to melt and the water to slide down into the gutters. This would normally be a good thing, but because so many homes in our area aren’t properly insulated, the water refreezes at the eaves of the roof, creating icicles.

Not so bad right? Think again. Icicles are a sign that water is refreezing over your gutters instead of draining through them, which forms an ice blockage. As that ice grows and grows, the water has nowhere to go so it starts to move under your roof shingles and eventually into your insulation and drywall. This is when you’ll start to see the leaks in your ceiling and walls. Sure, those huge frozen icicles look pretty, but you won’t be so fond of them when you see the damage that they can do.

The best way to avoid this problem is by taking preventative measures. I get calls from homeowners to remove ice dams after every winter storm, and for many, it is too late and they are already facing thousands of dollars worth of damage. But if you’re lucky enough to catch an ice dam before it fully forms, it’s a smart idea to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

Firstly, when you’re clearing snow from your driveway and sidewalks, think about your roof too. Removing snow from the house is the best way to protect your home against it melting and refreezing in the gutters and up the roof. If you already have an ice dam forming, you can use a hammer and chisel to get rid of it, but be very careful as roof shingles are more delicate and brittle in cold conditions. One safe home remedy is to fill a pair of pantyhose with an ice melter and lay it across the ice dam so the water will melt into the gutter. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder, call a professional to help you get rid of the ice dam quickly and safely.

These, of course, are just stop-gap measures. The only way to prevent ice dams from forming permanently is to have your home properly insulated and ventilated. More than 75% of homes in our area are under-insulated which causes the heat from your home to shoot right through the roof. Having appropriate insulation and ventilation will keep your home free from ice dams and will keep you much more comfortable in both the winter and the summer. You’ll feel the difference immediately, and you’ll see the benefit in your energy bills too.

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.


Be snow safe this shoveling season

Chelsea O'Donnell

With our first official snowfall in the books, it’s that time of year when we have to dig the shovels out of the garage and get accustomed to the dreaded task of winter clean-up. Unfortunately not only is snow shoveling an annoying chore, it’s also one of those around-the-house jobs that can easily land you in the hospital if you’re not careful. To avoid a mishap, there are a few things that you can do to make shoveling less painful, difficult and risky.

First, get yourself a good tool to work with. If you’ve been using the same old shovel for 20 years, chances are it’s not doing you any favors. Today’s shovels are designed to help withstand the weight of heavy snow, which will reduce the chances of you blowing your back out. The buzz is on the True Temper Ergonomic Mountain Mover, which you can pick up for around $25 at The Home Depot or a local hardware store. It’s designed to prevent back and neck injuries and has both a comfortable handle and a plastic blade that will keep your porch and deck intact. Think of it as an investment.

When you’re ready to shovel, be prepared. Wait until the snowplows come around the neighborhood (unless you want to shovel twice) and layer up with comfortable clothes. If you’re not used to physical activity, warm up with a few stretches to prepare your back and arms. When shoveling, bend your knees and try to push large piles into a bank or your curb rather than lifting each shovelful. Try not to throw snow or make twisting and turning movements that will aggravate your back. People all too often underestimate the weight of snow and the physicality of shoveling and end up with back, neck and shoulder injuries. Don’t be one of them. Use your legs.

If you think you’re in good enough shape to shovel, start slowly, take frequent breaks and stay hydrated by drinking plenty of water. If you’re not up to the task, don’t be afraid to ask a friend, family or neighbor for help. Shoveling is rigorous exercise and could lead to injury or even a heart attack if you’re not used to similar activities. If you can’t find anyone to help you do the job, feel free to give me a call.