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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: warm

Don't Be the Coldest House on the Block This Winter

Chelsea O'Donnell

I love winter. You’ll often find me skiing, playing ice hockey on one of our local ponds, and hiking in the snow over the next several months. But for all the fun that winter has to offer, one thing I can’t stand is coming home to a cold house.

During this week’s delayed winter weather, I got tons of calls from people all over town asking what can be done about their drafty, cold homes. They are also concerned why their houses are so hard to heat and their energy bills are through the roof. The answer to their question is easy because the problem can be found in three-quarters of the homes I work on in our area. The culprit of cold is a major lack of insulation.

Insulation is a cotton-looking fiberglass material bundled in pink or yellow colored rolls that you may have seen in your attic or behind the wall of new construction. It also comes in what we call “loose fill” which can be blown into harder to reach areas. Contractors use insulation between walls, in attics and in basements to retain heat in the house in the winter and keep the heat from getting into the house in the summer. The amount of insulation needed for a home is measured by its R-Value, which equates to its resistance to heat moving through it. Simply put, the higher the R-Value, the better the insulating properties.

Back 50 years ago when many of the homes in Central Connecticut areas were built, R-Value wasn’t a popular unit of measurement. Instead, the industry kept it simple and measured insulation by its thickness in inches. When a home was constructed, the contractor would put about three inches of insulation into the attic, if any was used at all. Three inches of insulation would give that homeowner an R-Value of about R-10. According to EnergyStar, homes in our area should be fitted with insulation that measures between R-49 and R-60. So if you have a home from the 1950s or early and have never upgraded your insulation, your home is definitely not equipped to handle our harsh Connecticut winters.

Do yourself a favor and take a trip up into your attic. Chances are your insulation isn’t up to scratch and it’s probably time for an upgrade. As a general guideline, insulation with an R-Value of between R-49 and R-60 will sit at between 19 and 22 inches thick when settled. How does your insulation stack up to that? If it doesn’t, you don’t have to worry - a contractor can install it in less than one day and insulation has one of the highest resale values of any home improvement job.

With any proper insulation job also comes ventilation, which allows air to move through the attic, preventing over and under heating and reducing the risk of mold buildup. We will talk about that in detail next week.

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.

Investigating Bare Spots on a Snow Covered Roof

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week I received an email from a reader who has a problem that I see in many homes around our area of Connecticut. Her question was this: “Dear Bob, on particularly cold mornings over these past few weeks, I have noticed spots on my roof that accumulate frost and other parts that don’t. Why am I seeing these spots and is there something wrong with my house?”

I’m so grateful that a reader asked this question and with snow in the forecast, I’d like you all to go outside early in the morning and have a look at your roof. Do you have spots too? If so, you might be thinking that the places where snow is accumulating are the problem and the bare spots are good. But believe it or not, the spots where you can still see your shingles are actually the problem areas.

If your roof is covered with any type of shingle or material other than metal, it should be completely and evenly white after a heavy frost or snowfall. If there are places where shingles are clearly visible, these are literal hot spots where heat is escaping from your home and through your roof at a temperature warm enough to melt snow. This is a problem.

A well insulated and ventilated attic has one very important job to do in the winter - to keep the heat inside your home. Insulation helps to ensure that the air inside your home can’t escape while ventilation allows air to circulate so the temperature and humidity stays regulated. If a home is not insulated and ventilated correctly, you’re going to be subjected to a whole bunch of problems. If heat is escaping, that’s bad for the environment and your energy bills. Once the temperature in the attic deregulates, your roof is going to be susceptible to ice dams, which form because snow melts down to the gutter and refreezes again. When this happens, huge icicles can begin to grow, weighing down the gutter and potentially pulling it clean off. Of course, all this water hanging out where it doesn’t belong also opens your home up to leaks which can come through the roof into the attic and eventually down through your insulation, ceiling, and walls. All of these problems simply because the attic doesn’t have enough of a support system to let the house breathe the way it should!

So what should you do? Here is the easy part. Get your attic properly insulated and ventilated. As a general guideline, insulation with an R-Value of between R-49 and R-60 will sit at between 19 and 22 inches thick when settled. If you have a home that was built in the 1950’s or 60’s, you’re probably sitting on about three inches of insulation in the attic, which gives you an R-Value of about R-10. This might explain why you’re so chilly.

If you're not quite convinced to take on the project, consider this. According to Remodeling Magazine’s 2017 Cost Versus Value Report, adding insulation in your attic was the second-best home improvement project to undergo. In Hartford County, you’re looking at a 92.2% cost recoup upon the resale of a home. How’s that for an investment worth warming up to?

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.

 

10 End of Summer Jobs for a Fantastic Fall

Chelsea O'Donnell

Summer may be coming to a close, but with the first day of autumn still a few weeks away, there is plenty of time to get your home and yard in tip-top shape before the cooler weather sets in. With the countdown on, I’ve rounded up the most important jobs for you to tackle to get ready for the fall. Let’s get busy!

Clean windows and inspect for gaps.

If you have window A/C units, tack this job on as you’re removing them. Windows are a prime culprit for heat loss, so have a look at all the windows in your home to see if you have any gaps. Small cracks and crevices can be sealed with caulk, but you’ll want to fill larger gaps with insulation or expandable foam. If you have single pane aluminum windows and you’re freezing every winter, it might be time for an upgrade.

Clean and store outdoor furniture.

If furniture is left outdoors during the winter, it will likely crack, split or rust - depending on the material.  Before you turn it in for the winter, be sure to clean it well to avoid rot or damage and check for signs of mold and mildew. A thorough wash with hot soapy water or household cleaner will do the trick.

Reseal your deck.

The summer sun can be brutal on your deck, but so is the onset of snow, sleet, and freezing rain that we can expect over the next several months. Protect your wood by removing any leaves, sticks and those pesky helicopters, and follow it up with a good power wash. When the wood is dry, apply a protective sealant to condition the deck and help it stand up to winter.

Inspect your doors and apply weather stripping.

Just like your windows, your doors are prime areas for air leaks. Inspect the areas around your doors and make sure they are air tight by repairing any old weather stripping or broken door sweeps. Heating a home all winter costs a lot of money so don’t make it more expensive than it should be. An energy efficient home is a happy home.

Patch that leaky roof.

If the summer rain uncovered a leak in your ceiling or attic, don’t wait to have it looked at. The unpredictable winter can be a disaster for a roof that’s already damaged, so don’t hold out until it’s too late. Often times a small repair can stop the problem in its tracks.

Clean your gutters and check for clogs.

I went into detail about this one last week but it’s worth another mention. We’re in for a stellar leaf peeping season, but for us homeowners that also means a lot of headaches in the clean-up department. Make sure your gutters and downspouts are prepared for the seasonal shed and flush everything through to ensure the water flow-through is up to par.

Get adequate insulation.

If you’re dreading another teeth-chattering winter, it’s time to add some insulation to your home. Over 75 percent of houses that I visit in our area don’t have enough insulation and because of it, I get too many calls from frozen homeowners wondering what they can do. Insulation is inexpensive to install, can be done in less than a day and adds more to the resale value of your home than any other project. This one is a no brainer.

Scrub out your garbage cans.

As the cold sets in, our furry friends get more desperate for food and will start visiting your trash looking for a free meal. Their sense of smell is uncanny so make sure your bins are cleaned out and future garbage is bagged properly. You don’t want rodents making their homes too close to yours.

Replace your air filters.

If your A/C has been cranking all summer, it’s a great time to clean and/or replace your air filtration systems. While you’re at it, have a look at all your vents including the dryer and remove any built-up debris. The harder those appliances have to work, the more they are going to cost you.

Inspect the hot water heater.

Don’t wait until it’s too late. Check your water heater for any decay or sediment build-up and be on the lookout for leaks or faulty pipes. If you have an inkling that the unit might be on the fritz, call in a pro for a routine inspection. It’s better to be safe than sorry come winter.

Bob O’Donnell is the owner of O’Donnell Bros. Inc., a Bristol-based home improvement company established in 1975. Email your questions 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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.