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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: winter

What To Do Now To Prevent Ice Dams Next Winter

Chelsea O'Donnell

With the slight warm up this week, do you think winter is finally on the way out? If you’re like most homeowners, you’re probably a bit sick of the snow shoveling, ice chipping, and slushy commutes. And if you’re one of the unlucky many that I’ve seen, you’re probably ready for that ice dam to finally melt.

An ice dam forms when heavy snow blankets the roof, forming an extra layer of insulation. As warm air rises from your house and up through your attic, it causes the layer of snow closest to the roof to melt and the water to slide down into the gutters. This would normally be a good thing, but because so many homes in our area aren’t properly insulated, the water refreezes at the eaves of the roof, creating icicles.

Not so bad right? Think again. Icicles are a sign that water is refreezing over your gutters instead of draining through them, which forms an ice blockage. As that ice grows and grows, the water has nowhere to go so it starts to move under your roof shingles and eventually into your insulation and drywall. This is when you’ll start to see the leaks in your ceiling and walls. Sure, those huge frozen icicles look pretty, but you won’t be so fond of them when you see the damage that they can do.

The best way to avoid this problem is by taking preventative measures. I get calls from homeowners to remove ice dams after every winter storm, and for many, it is too late and they are already facing thousands of dollars worth of damage. But if you’re lucky enough to catch an ice dam before it fully forms, it’s a smart idea to get rid of it as quickly as possible

Firstly, when you’re clearing snow from your driveway and sidewalks, think about your roof too. Removing snow from the house is the best way to protect your home against it melting and refreezing in the gutters and up the roof. If you already have an ice dam forming, you can use a hammer and chisel to get rid of it, but be very careful as roof shingles are more delicate and brittle in cold conditions. One safe home remedy is to fill a pair of pantyhose with an ice melter and lay it across the ice dam so the water will melt into the gutter. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder, call a professional to help you get rid of the ice dam quickly and safely.

These, of course, are just stop-gap measures. The only way to prevent ice dams from forming permanently is to have your home properly insulated and ventilated. More than 75% of homes in our area are under-insulated which causes the heat from your home to shoot right through the roof. Having appropriate insulation and ventilation will keep your home free from ice dams and will keep you much more comfortable in both the winter and the summer. You’ll feel the difference immediately, and you’ll see the benefit in your energy bills too.

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.

When Wet Winter Weather Brings Unwanted Guests Indoors

Chelsea O'Donnell

I recently received a question from a reader that I thought I’d share with all of you. She asked, “During the winter I sometimes get mice or rats in my house. I assume they are looking for a warm place to settle in and find food, but they aren’t welcome here! How can I deter them this year?”

My reader is right - her rodent problem absolutely has to do with the little buggers looking for a nice warm place to hide out from the winter weather and to grab a meal while they’re at it. Here are a few simple tips to reduce the chances of them making a home in yours.

Firstly, seal off the premises. Make sure doors and screens are always closed tight and look for breaks, rips or holes that lead outside. Generally, caulk is a good sealant, but weather stripping around windows and installing new door sweeps on doors will keep small animals out and will do double duty by helping to insulate your home.

For bigger areas such as the chimney, you can use a thick wire mesh to keep the critters away, just make sure the material is thick enough that it can’t be chewed through. Believe it or not, a mouse can get through a hole the size of a dime, so be diligent in your search for entry points.

Another tip is to make sure you don’t leave any food lying around. Mice and rats are pretty resilient to the cold, but they have to eat to survive and looking for a meal in your house is a lot easier than trying to find one outside. Many pet owners leave animal food out for long periods of time, which makes a delicious meal for a rodent. If a mouse can get into your house, the last thing you want to do is give them a reason to stay. Keep that food, pet or otherwise, sealed up tight.

Finally, watch that wood pile. A lot of people keep firewood stacked up next to a doorway or entry point, giving mice an easy in. Find a safe dry place for wood that’s a bit further from the door to deter unwanted guests.

If your home is susceptible to rodents and you’ve tried to get rid of them with no luck, you might want to consider having the problem dealt with by a pest control professional. There are plenty of traps, sprays, and natural solutions on the market, but using the wrong deterrent might drive pests up into the walls where they can start chewing on wires and causing long term, more expensive damage. A professional exterminator can help you to deal with the problem while keeping both your home and family safe.

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.

Winter Basement Leaks - A Common Problem To Look Out For

Chelsea O'Donnell

I often talk about the importance of proper attic ventilation to prevent leaks but as the winter peaks, the basement takes center stage as the place in the house where water damage will most likely occur.

The temperature often rises after a big storm, making moisture a huge problem for homeowners. Standing water can find its way into your basement through non-structural cracks in poured concrete walls or deteriorated joints in masonry walls. Poorly fitted or old basement windows, as well as utility openings, can also let water in.

The best line of defense against a wet basement is to make sure that the water is directed away from the foundation. Inspect your gutters and downspouts to see if they are working the way they should be and also check to see that the ground right around the house is higher than the rest of the yard. Having the yard grade at its highest around the perimeter of the foundation will ensure water drains away from the house instead of into it.  

If you think your house is susceptible to leaks, you can also use a waterproofing membrane or coating to seal the foundation or basement area. However, if you have regular leaking problems, you may need to have a drainage or sump pump system installed by a professional.

Even if you don’t have a leak problem, the basement can get pretty damp from now through April, which creates the perfect environment for nasty mold and mildew to grow and fester. To get rid of the excess water, I always like to run a dehumidifier in the basement as the weather warms up. A dehumidifier works by pulling the moisture out of the air and storing the excess water in a holding tank. Many people keep dehumidifiers in their basement all year long to control the dampness that can often be felt in underground areas, but I find it especially useful this time of year.

You can find out if your basement is holding a lot of moisture by purchasing a simple five-dollar humidity gauge from the local hardware store. Ideally, you want the humidity to be under 50%. If it’s higher, a dehumidifier might be a good solution. Generally, a unit will come in 25, 30 and 40-pint models, and on average a 25-pint unit will be sufficient to control the moisture in a 1,000 square foot area.

One last word of advice - if you have a dehumidifier or plan on getting one, please be sure to empty it regularly and keep the filter clean. A simple wipe down with a damp cloth and spray bottle will do the trick to keep you breathing freely and ensure a longer life for the appliance.

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.