Contact Us

Please feel free to get in touch to ask a question, schedule an appointment or give us your feedback. We look forward to hearing from you. 

Name
Name

17 Divinity St
Bristol, CT, 06010
United States

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. 

HomeImprovement-PT-050114_9032 (1).jpg

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

Home Heating Stoves Make for a Cozy Winter

Chelsea O'Donnell

A beautiful fireplace adds both warmth and ambiance to any home, especially as the days get cooler and we begin spending more time indoors. Back in the day, the only option for a fireplace was one that burned wood, but now we have several options to keep us toasty - each with its benefits and drawbacks. If you’re thinking about upgrading your fireplace or trying something new, here are a few options to consider.

Wood

The classic choice. There are so many reasons to love wood from the traditional crackling sound that it makes to the hypnotic dancing of natural flames. I consider wood to be the fastest heater for the money in that you can quickly warm up a home without having to worry about your electricity bills. Another reason to love wood is if you have it. For rural or wooded area homes that need an annual clean-up, your fuel is free as long as you don’t mind the man hours. Think of it as a great workout.

Of course, with the pros come the cons. If you don’t have wood readily available, this kind of burner can get very expensive. If you do, you still have to cut and stack it yourself. It also needs to stay dry in order to light reliably. Wood is also pretty messy and while those piles can look great if they are well constructed, they also make perfect homes for rodents, termites, and mold. Finally, there is the efficiency factor. Wood burns hot and fast and regulating temperature is a lot tougher than other heating methods. Wood also emits particles into the air, which could affect people with breathing problems or asthma. And of course, there is also the need for a chimney which may make it prohibitive for some people.

Pellet

A pellet fireplace or stove uses small, compressed cylinders of sawdust to heat the home. What’s great about pellet stoves is that they are temperature regulated and don’t require a traditional chimney since many stoves use blowers to circulate heat. Another reason to love them is their efficiency. Because heat can be regulated and pellets are easier to maneuver, most homeowners can expect a cleaner, less labor-intensive burn.

Of course, pellet stoves have a few negative aspects to consider. While cleaner burning than wood, pellets are made from sawdust, which will bother people who are sensitive to dust, dander, and pollen. Similar to wood, there is also ash to consider, which needs to be dumped regularly to keep the fire burning efficiently. Pellet stoves are generally more intricate than a wood fireplace, which means there is more to clean and maintain. Finally, most stoves run on electricity which means you’re paying for both the pellets and the energy to burn them.

Natural Gas

Natural gas fireplaces have become one of the most popular options today, mainly because a unit can be fit into an existing fireplace or practically anywhere in the home. People love gas because it’s fast to heat, easy to control, and doesn’t require a chimney or electricity. Simply set the temperature you want and you’re ready to go. In comparison to wood or pellets, natural gas emits the least amount of particles, making it a popular choice for people who have breathing sensitivities. As long as your house already has natural gas, the set up is really easy and you don’t have to worry about buying anything to keep your home warm.

While natural gas does tick plenty of boxes, there are a few things to think about. Admittedly, natural gas flames are the most boring and predictable, making it the least ambiance-friendly option of the three. Of course, you’re also burning a fossil fuel, which is inexpensive right now but can always go up. Finally, if you don’t already have a gas line, you’ll need to get one installed, which might end up being more of a hassle than it’s worth. 

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.


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.