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17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
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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: snow removal

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 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.

 

To Salt or Not to Salt, That is the Question

Chelsea O'Donnell

Snow removal is a common chore that we Connecticutians have come to accept as part of our winter routine. And while we have had an early few inches, it’s always a good idea to be prepared for the main event come January. 

Shoveling and plowing are pretty straightforward activities, but one question that I get asked time and time again is about salting and how to choose the right product to make snow removal a little easier on the back and the wallet. Snow melting agents generally come in two forms - traditional rock salt, also known as sodium chloride, and calcium chloride. While they sound similar, the two are actually quite different and each has its advantages and drawbacks.

Sodium chloride, or rock salt, is a dry material that’s mined and applied to pavement using a walk behind residential spreaders or commercial spreaders that are mounted on trucks. Sodium chloride is activated by moisture and will begin to melt the snow when it gets wet. The problem with sodium chloride is that because it’s activated by water, it doesn’t work well if the temperature is below 15 degrees.  However, if temperatures are above 15 degrees, sodium chloride can be a good, inexpensive choice that will take longer to melt but will keep your walkways dry. If you have vegetation or animals, make note that sodium chloride will be harmful to plants and can hurt animals if ingested.

When temperatures dip below 15 degrees, calcium chloride is going to be your best bet. This liquid agent is sprayed onto payment and works instantly to melt snow and ice. In fact, calcium chloride can melt snow up to eight times faster than traditional rock salt alone. Of course, there are a few downsides to consider. Calcium chloride gets hot fast, so while its effective short term, it might not be able to do the full job in a huge storm. It’s also more expensive than traditional rock salt and stays wet which can lead to slippery surfaces. On the plus side, it’s non-corrosive and won’t harm vegetation, although you’ll still want to keep your pets away from it.

So, when choosing whether to use sodium chloride or calcium chloride, stick to the basics to help you decide which product is best to handle your snowy mess. If in doubt, look for a calcium chloride pre-mixed with salt or abrasives to melt snow quickly while reducing the risk of creating a slippery surface.

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