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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: squirrels

Keep Pests at Bay with These All Natural Repellents

Chelsea O'Donnell

I don’t know about you, but this early summer seems worse than ever for pests of every kind. Homeowners are struggling with ants in the house and even my yard has more chipmunks than I’ve seen in recent memory. Lots of people I speak to are determined to get rid of their newfound neighbors, but many don’t want to resort to environmentally damaging chemicals or toxic ingredients in the home. So what can we do?

Let’s get those pests in check! I’ve rounded up a bunch of my favorite all natural repellents and deterrents to reduce the unwanted company in and around your home without putting toxins or pollutants into the environment. Let’s check them out.

Hot Pepper - for unwanted garden bugs, hot pepper is a fantastic solution. Simmer three tablespoons of red chili flakes or five finely chopped fresh jalapenos in a large pan of water for 15 minutes. Let it sit for a day and then strain the mixture into a spray bottle with a few drops of dish soap.

Coffee - did you know that coffee is fatal to ants? If you can find where they are entering your home, you can use recycled grounds to deter them. Simply place them in a shallow bowl or bag right at the entry point. One sniff and they’ll be doing a one-eighty.

Mint and Garlic - this is another garden concoction that you can use as a plant spray. Blitz a few garlic cloves and mint leaves in a food processor and then boil it with some cayenne pepper. Add a few drops of dish soap to the spray bottle and pour in your solution for a simple, effective plant spray.

Cornmeal - if you have pets, cornmeal is an easy non-toxic remedy for ants. Put a small dish or a plastic cover full near their entry point and the ants will soon start to carry it away to their colony. They love to eat it, but can’t digest it. Problem solved.

Rosemary - I love balmy summer evening in the backyard but I can’t stand mosquitoes! Citronella is a common natural deterrent but if you don’t have any handy, try throwing some rosemary or sage on your firepit. It smells wonderful to us but mosquitos can’t stand it.

Basil - if you get flies coming in and out of the house every time someone opens the door, trying potted basil. The flies will immediately retreat in their tracks and you’ll have plenty of fresh leaves for a delicious pesto. If you’re worried about pots getting kicked over and making a mess, a vital of basil essential oil will do the trick too.

Cayenne pepper - this is probably your best bet for a chipmunk problem. Just like other pests, chipmunks are very sensitive to the smell and taste of hot peppers and they’ll go out of their way to avoid it. A generous spray of cayenne and water or oil solution around your immediate garden should help to deter them from hanging around.

Do you have a favorite all-natural solution that gets rid of the pests at your home? I’d love to hear about it. Email me or send me a message on Facebook at

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.

Leaks Around the Chimney? Blame it on the Squirrels

Chelsea O'Donnell

I received a question from a reader that I wanted to share with you. She asked: 

Dear Bob, I've had some leaking around my chimney. I thought this didn’t seem very strange considering all the snow we’ve had, but when we went to take a look at it, we noticed lots of small holes around the flashing. What would be the cause of this? - Dot B.

Dot, this is a great question and I have received so many calls about it recently so you’re not alone. Believe it or not, the culprit of the small holes around your chimney flashing is squirrels. Flashing is often made of lead, which is a soft metal that squirrels feast on because it supposedly has a sweet taste. More practically, it also helps our rodent friends gnaw down and control their fast-growing teeth. Then, of course, there is the warmth that is escaping from your attic which makes for a pretty cozy place to spend these cold winter days.

Of course, we all know that lead is poisonous, so squirrels chomping down on your flashing is very likely going to kill them in addition to opening up your roof to potential leaks. Flashing bridges the gap between the chimney and your roof, creating a watertight barrier. If it’s damaged, water can easily get into the attic and eventually down into the home. So I’d suggest dealing with the problem right away before it becomes more costly and complicated.

One simple DIY method is to cover the flashing with the taste that squirrels hate the most - capsaicin, the active ingredient in cayenne pepper. You can mix pepper sauce or powder with water and spray it on the affected areas which will deter them in the short term. Of course, a cheap and easy solution like this also has its drawbacks, and in this case, you’ll be pulling out the ladder again every time it rains or snows. 

You can also try deterring the squirrels from your roof by cutting back the branches and trees that make it easily accessible to them. Also, if food is more readily available, they are going to follow the path of least resistance. So fill up those wildlife feeders and keep them at a distance from your house.

If the pests persist, I recommend getting a professional to cover your current flashing with heavy duty copper which is neither attractive nor penetrable. Investing in one of these simple solutions will save both your home and your furry friends from an untimely demise.

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.