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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: windows

Window Condensation? A Common Spring Problem To Resolve

Chelsea O'Donnell

This week a reader asked a great question, “My windows are constantly fogged up and I’m not sure why. How can I fix them?”

Window condensation is such a common problem and it happens in homes with too much humidity. If your house is old or new, it doesn’t matter. When the humidity inside the home is higher than the humidity outside, your glass windows and doors will start to show condensation, especially at this time of year when evening temperatures hover around 40 degrees.

Homes should be at about 50 percent humidity. When they are higher, the glass in your home will act as a dehumidifier and the excess moisture will collect on it in an attempt to get rid of the water from the air. Newer homes are built tightly, which makes it harder for moisture to escape. Older homes can let too much moisture from the outside in. This is why condensation doesn’t discriminate. It can happen to any house.

So what can you do to either prevent condensation or get rid of a problem that you already have? Step one is to purchase a hygrometer which is the instrument to measure humidity. As I said, 50 percent humidity inside the home is what you’re aiming for, but anything from 45 to 55 percent is fine. If your hygrometer is measuring 60 to 70 percent or higher, you’ll want to take immediate action. While condensation on windows is unsightly and annoying, mold and mildew growth is much worse.

If you have condensation, here are a few ideas to get rid of it quickly and effectively.

Turn Down Your Humidifier. If you’re using one, it’s working! By releasing less moisture into the air, you’ll reduce your condensation problems.

Buy a Dehumidifier. If your house is constantly damp, a moisture eliminator is going to be crucial. Lots of homeowners run dehumidifiers in their basement all the time but keeping one going upstairs might be necessary. If you are running slightly more humid in rooms such as the bathrooms or the laundry room, try a refillable moisture absorber such as DampRid.

Use Your Fans. Bathroom and kitchen fans are there for a reason. Cooking a dish that lets off lots of steam or taking long showers both create tons of extra water. Extractor fans can help to remove that moisture. Let them run for 10 minutes after use.

Open the Windows. Air circulation is key, so open up those windows and make good use of ceiling fans. Also, make sure you check the humidity in the attic, as heat tends to rise. You may find that your first and second floors have entirely different humidity levels and need to be treated independently.

Insulate! Because condensation is caused by heat and moisture, it’s a good idea to make sure your home is insulated to make the air easier to control. Insulation can be as simple as weatherstripping and door sealing depending on the level of wall and attic insulation in your home. If you’re not sure how much insulation you have, call a contractor to give you an assessment and free quote.

Spring and summer are much wetter seasons than fall and winter, so be sure to check your moisture levels often. As the humidity rises outside, a house that doesn’t “breathe” properly will be susceptible to a number of problems. Consider foggy windows as a warning sign and take action right away to avoid potentially expensive repairs and hazardous breathing conditions in the future.

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.


Energy Efficiency Home Upgrades That Add Value While Saving Money

Chelsea O'Donnell

In case helping the planet isn’t enough motivation for you, creating an energy-efficient home not only reduces your utility bills, but it can increase its value too. Real estate buyers are showing increased interest in homes that carry  Energy Star certifications and paying less for heat and electricity is a huge bonus too.

With so many options to improve your home’s energy consumption, how do you choose what to focus on? Here are some of my favorite upgrades which are easy to implement and will give you the best bang for your buck.

Insulation

Adding or upgrading your attic and wall insulation is a fantastic and cost-efficient way to lower heating and cooling costs. For an average 1,000 square foot ranch, the project costs around $2,000 and the benefit can be upwards of $600 per year on energy bills. In our area, more than 75% of homes are underinsulated which allows heat to escape in the winter and cool air to be lost in the summer. If you’re considering central air for the coming season, don’t even think about putting a system in without having your insulation inspected first.

Solar Panels

While not cheap or easy, solar panels do offer excellent energy savings and are worth mentioning here. The cost can be anywhere from $15,000-$30,000 and once installed, you can expect savings of $500-$1,000 per year on energy costs. Solar panels require very little maintenance but many people consider them unsightly. Suppliers are working on better aesthetic solutions and I think we’ll see a lot of improvements in this area in the next few years. Pound for pound, insulation is a less expensive solution with comparable benefits.

Windows and Doors

Homes lose a ton of energy through windows and doors, especially older ones with loose fitting frames and single pane glass. Energy efficient windows and doors are a smart investment as they will not only save you money in the long run, they are also easy to clean and operate with virtually no required upkeep.

Weatherstripping

Weatherstripping is usually the first recommendation I make for homeowners looking to lower their utility bills cheaply. Energy audits reveal that up to 40 percent of heating and cooling losses occur through air leaks, particularly in older homes. Sealing off these leaks is an easy project that any homeowner can do, it’s very low cost, and the materials can be found at any home improvement store.

Programmable Thermostats

I love programmable thermostats which can help you reduce your energy consumption when you don’t need it. A smart system will allow you to turn down heating and cooling when you’re at work or away for a period of time and the savings will often be recouped in a year. While systems differ, you can expect to spend $200 or less depending on the bells and whistles included.

Gas Fireplace

Gas fireplaces have an energy-efficient rating of more than 70% where wood-burning fireplaces rank around 15%. The cost to convert wood to gas is roughly $2,000, which will pay for itself in just a few years time. While many homeowners love both the smell and the look of a traditional wood burner, new technology has helped gas fireplaces look much more appealing and less artificial than when they were first introduced to the market.

Low-Flow Faucets

While heating and cooling are the biggest energy eaters, it’s definitely worth thinking about your water intake too. Low-flow hardware for toilets and showers is cheap to buy, easy to install, and can cut water usage by up to 50%. This is both great for the environment and can save you upwards of $200 per year on the bill. If you have an old dishwasher and washing machine, now is the time to replace those too as energy efficiency has been the biggest upgrade focus for appliances in recent years.

Making smart energy efficiency investments is a good idea for any homeowner, but it’s important to learn more about your individual home and where improvements can be made. Scheduling a no or low-cost energy audit is a great place to start.

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.

Cost Versus Value 2019: Home Remodeling Projects That Will Pay Upon Resale

Chelsea O'Donnell

One of my favorite things to review is the annual Remodeling Magazine Cost Versus Value Report which comes out at the end of January. This report compares home renovation projects by assessing their cost and their value in terms of resale if and when a house is put on the market. I always find this information to be extremely valuable and I love sharing it for two reasons: it gives my readers an idea about which remodeling projects will actually pay off in the long run and it also uncovers some less glamorous projects that can fetch bigger dollars on a home sale. One of the things I love about this report is that it gives remodelers and owners a glimpse at national trends, but it also breaks it right down on a local level. So let’s jump into the projects that are paying off right here in Hartford County.

Topping the list for 2019 is garage door replacement which, at an average cost of $3,717, will net you an average 99.9% back upon the resale of your home. Garage door replacement actually took the top spot locally, regionally, and nationally for the first time. It also just so happens to be one of the cheapest home remodeling jobs you can do.

Another big category was outdoor improvements with both deck additions and stone veneer upgrades recouping three-quarters of their costs. Here in Hartford County, a wood deck addition netted a homeowner 78% of its cost on an average $14,000 project and stone veneer came in at 73% cost recouped on a project under $10,000. My take on this is that people value both curb appeal and outdoor liveability, and smaller projects that make a house look like the best on the block can mean a major payoff in the long run.

Rounding out the rest on the top of the list in Hartford were minor kitchen remodels, midrange bathroom remodels, and siding and window replacements which all scored well above 50% in terms of their cost versus resale value. Again, investing in these types of projects which both beautify and modernize the home are smart spending and projects such as window upgrades are also both practical and cost-effective since they offer major bonus points in the energy efficiency department.

But what about the projects that don’t deliver as much value? At the bottom of the list were additions with a new luxury master suite netting only 45% of the costs outlaid and a bathroom addition only earning 47% on resale. My take on this? Bedrooms and bathrooms are highly personal and for these higher priced remodeling jobs, it’s tough to get someone to want to pay a premium for a costly job that might be unique to your family. If a bathroom or bedroom addition is in your future, try to tackle it with a flexible plan in mind and know that if a real estate transaction is in your future, a new family might not be as keen on a French bidet and walk-in dressing room as you are.

If you’re interested in the full report, you can access it here. Happy remodeling!

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.