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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: walls

Don't Leave Roof Leaks To Wreak Havoc on Your Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

When rain comes like the forecast says it will, my phone starts ringing off the hook with calls to fix people’s leaky roofs. We had a dry autumn thus far, but as soon as the skies open up, the rain finds its way right into people’s homes, causing dark, damp spots on their ceilings and down their walls. With more rain in the forecast for this coming week, I wanted to address this common problem for homeowners and give you some advice to follow before the real wet and wild winter weather arrives.

If you find a leak, have it checked right away. Leaks show themselves in the walls and ceilings but it’s not always easy to find the source of the problem. Roof leaks generally only surface during bad weather and won’t cause issues when the sun is out, unlike pipe leaks can appear anytime.

To know for sure, grab a flashlight and head up into the attic. You can remove the insulation around the spot where the leak is staining the ceiling. Then look up at the pitch and see if you can see any holes or light shining through. Popular roof leak sources include valley flashing, gaskets around vents, or cracks and crevices around your chimney or utility entrances, but it’s tough to know without jumping up on the roof for an inspection which I’d leave to a professional.

If you call a contractor, he or she will want to thoroughly inspect the roof and the ceiling to find the cause of the problem. Often times they will find corrosion or lifted shingles, but in these conditions where we had a lot of leaves fall in a very short period of time, the problem could simply be coming from rainwater that can’t drain due to clogged gutters. Once the water path into the house is detected, a repair can be relatively simple, inexpensive, and might be fixed on the spot.

While many repairs are minor, it’s very important not to ignore the issue. Water traveling from the roof to the inside of your home has a lot to get through to finally appear in your ceiling, including layers of shingles, wood, and insulation. If the water sits stagnant, it becomes a breeding ground for mold growth which can deteriorate the materials that help your house stay strong. Mold can also be dangerous for your family to breathe in every day, and having it circulating through your home as you begin using your heating system can cause both short and long-term health issues, especially for young children and people with asthma.

Simply put, a roof leak isn’t something to mess with and even if it is a major issue, getting someone to give you options for dealing with it will help you plan for the work that may be inevitable. With more rain in the forecast this coming week and with winter on the way, it’s a problem that’s better for you to deal with now before it has the opportunity to get worse.

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.

How to Deal with Water and Mold Before They Take Hold of Your Home

Chelsea O'Donnell

Mold is a problem that most homeowners have to deal with at one time or another. It’s the damaging by-product of water and moisture that can wreak havoc on your home, and more importantly, your health. So with summer on the way, now is a good time to inspect your house for mold and get rid of it before it does any kind of serious damage. But first, it’s a good idea to learn a little more about this pesky organism and why it demands to be treated so seriously.

You might be familiar with mold (otherwise known as mildew) from your shower or bathtub. Since the shower is often wet and the tiles are waterproof, water can sometimes seep into the grout, which, if it’s old and can’t handle its repelling duties properly, will become a breeding ground for mildew. So you’re left with microscopic organisms that feed off the moisture, allowing it to grow until you nail it with some Tilex and wait for the next clean. But what happens when mold starts to grow in the places you can’t reach to scrub – places like your ceiling, inside walls or attic? You’re probably saying, “Not in my house”. Well, guess again.

At least half the homes I visit for improvement and remodeling projects have a major mold problem and the owners don’t even know it. How? Because mold generally grows in places that you can’t see – like inside the walls and in the attic. What most people don’t realize is that mold reproduces, or grows, by releasing spores that you’re breathing in day after day.

How common is this? If you’ve ever had a leak, you’ve most likely had a mold problem. So what can you do about it? You can prevent mold by ensuring your home stays dry. Here are my top tips:

  1. Keep your gutters and downspouts clean and clear so water can drain away from your house.
  2. Don’t let a leaky roof go unfixed.  Get it patched up immediately and ask your contractor to inspect for any mold growth.
  3. Make sure the ground around your house doesn’t slope inward towards the foundation where water can idle.
  4. Inside the house, beware of any discoloration in the ceiling.
  5. Ensure high moisture areas like bathrooms are well ventilated with good ceiling fans.
  6. If a leak has poured into the carpet, don’t just leave it to dry. A damp area can attract mold in less than 48 hours.
  7. Ensure large appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines aren’t leaking and have a catchment tray in the event of a malfunction.
  8. If you use a humidifier, make sure it’s cleaned and the water is changed regularly.
  9. If you feel that your house or basement has a high level of moisture, consider purchasing a dehumidifier to regulate the humidity and remove any excess moisture from the air.

If you’ve had a mold problem that you’ve tried to control by scraping, cleaning and repainting the area, don’t make the same mistake twice. If the mold keeps coming back, that means the issue runs deeper than the eye can see. It’s time to call in the pros.

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

Say So Long To That Old Concrete Patio and Update Your Outdoor Space

Chelsea O'Donnell

Back in the 70’s and 80’s, pouring a concrete patio was an easy and inexpensive way to enjoy an outdoor living space with relatively little upkeep. But over time, that surface has likely begun cracking and crumbling, leaving you grumbling and wondering what to do to breathe new life into the backyard. Luckily, there are plenty of options that will allow you to give that old concrete patio a facelift without having to jackhammer it out and start all over again. Also, autumn is a perfect time to kick off a project like this because the weather is beautiful and you won’t have to forgo any summer fun to get the job done. So if that old concrete is giving you the heebie-jeebies, here are a few ideas to bring it up to date with the times:


If your concrete is in good condition without a lot of cracks, a color treatment might be all you need to give it new life. Best of all, this is an easy do-it-yourself job that can be tackled in a day or weekend. Staining concrete works by breaking into the surface to create a different color or texture, so you’ll need to add a non-slip sealant to ensure the concrete stays strong. Also, never use an indoor product for outdoor purposes as they will make the concrete very slippery after rain. The most popular staining trend right now is transforming the cold gray color of concrete to a warmer, more natural reddish brown.


People love pavers because they break up a patio with more texture than one huge slab of concrete. You can achieve a similar look by scoring your current concrete and adding patterns and lines to mimic the look. This will require a professional who will come in and use a machine to cut one-quarter inch lines into the original pavement. What’s neat about scoring is that you can choose tons of different designs - from traditional square or rectangular shapes to diamond or intersecting lines. What I love about scoring is that you get a similar look to pavers without having to worry about weeds growing through the cracks.

Veneer pavers.

If you really love the look of pavers, it’s possible to lay thinner stone over your existing concrete slab, just as long as the finished height won’t cause any drainage or walking issues. It’s always a good idea to have a professional look at the property first to make sure you won’t have any problems down the track. If you have the height clearance for it, the project is simple and the veneer of your choice can simply be mortared onto the existing concrete for a whole new look. If your current concrete has visible cracking, this is a great way to cover it up, but if the patio is crumbling, you might need to have it repaired before going over it with a veneer.


If you’re not into refinishing your concrete, you can create dimension by adding walls or fencing to the backyard. Creating individual spaces for dining, cooking, or lounging can be done with low walls which can double as seating, or higher walls to create privacy and intimacy. If you’re looking for a less expensive option, a trellis or vertical garden can be built to create a beautiful green wall in the warmer months. Even rows of potted palms will do the trick, plus they can be moved around depending on the different ways that you’ll be using your space.

No matter how you choose to update your concrete patio, there are plenty of options based on both your needs and budget. Do you have another idea that you’d like to try? I’d love to hear from you. 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 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.