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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. 

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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 Category: Indoors

Is the Air in Your Home Making You Sick?

Chelsea O'Donnell

To most people, air pollution is defined by smog and exhaust that heaves from factories and cars, contaminating the air that we breathe outside. But did you know that the air inside your home can be more polluted than what you’re breathing outdoors? Believe it or not, lead, radon, formaldehyde, dust, cleaning chemicals, mold, mites, and pet dander are all hidden pollutants living inside your home, affecting your family’s health on a day-to-day basis. While we don’t want to think about it, it’s a common reality that I see in houses all over our area. What’s worse is that it’s doing more damage than you probably realize.

Because people spend more time indoors when the weather gets hot, we are seeing indoor air pollution take its toll more severely, especially in young children and elderly people who can develop asthma or breathing problems due to the hidden contaminants in their home. Sometimes it’s a summer cold but often it’s a telltale sign of indoor pollution. So what can you do to make sure your air quality is up to par? Here are five simple tips:

Get tested. Radon and lead tests can be done by a professional and are also available in at-home kits. If your home was built before the late 1970’s it’s a good idea to have it tested as lead based paint was highly common and can cause a range of health problems, especially in young children. As for radon, it just so happens to be the number two cause of lung cancer in the USA.

Watch the water. Mold loves moisture, so if your home regularly clocks humidity levels above 50 percent, you’ll want to start running a dehumidifier. The amount of mold and mildew build-up I see in people’s homes would shock you, yet they wonder why their kids have asthma and their elderly parents can’t breathe. Here’s an extra tip: a humidity reader, called a hygrometer, costs less than $10 at the local hardware store.

Clean your vents. Proper ventilation is vital to ensuring your home can breathe properly. While most people don’t have enough attic ventilation as it is, they also forget to clean the vents that are accessible and easy to maintain. The air conditioning filter, dryer vent, and even a blow-dryer are likely full of dust and dander, so be sure to keep them lint and funk free.

Go green. Household plants are a fantastic natural ally in keeping your air quality up to scratch. Palms, ferns, English Ivy, and Peace Lily are common indoor plants that also earn top marks for ridding the air of toxins. Just remember that you’ll need one plant for every 10 square yards of living space to keep the air clean. 

Make it a habit. Cleaning the house regularly will improve air quality simply because dust traps chemicals and allergens in it. Upgrade your vacuum cleaner for one with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter and make sure to wash kids stuffed animals regularly with hot water as dust mites love living in fabrics. When you start running low on a household cleaning product, swap it out for an all-natural alternative without the harsh chemicals. While you’re at it, say goodbye to those synthetic fragrances too - according to one study, a popular plug-in air freshener was found to contain 20 different volatile organic compounds (VOCs), including seven regulated as toxic under U.S. law. An essential oil diffuser will do the job without the poisonous toxins.

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 http://www.odonnellbros.com. Advice is for guidance only.

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.


Upgrade the Lighting In Your Home with LED

Chelsea O'Donnell

Spending more time indoors always gets me thinking about what small projects I can tackle to make a big impact on my home. One of those is lighting - which is especially important during these colder, darker months of the year.

Lighting can make or break the functionality of a room. If it’s too dim, you’ll be stuck squinting and turning on extra power sources that you probably don’t need. If it’s too bright, you’ll feel like you’re in a grocery store or a shopping mall.

LED lighting has given homeowners some exciting new options, but it can be tough to know what to buy to ensure that your lightbulbs function the way you need them to. But once you get the hang of it, making the switch is a no-brainer as the energy efficiency and longevity of an LED bulb pays for itself over and over again. So without further ado, here is what you need to know to add this little improvement to your late winter project list.

The first thing you’ll want to think about is whether you want a cool or warm hue in various rooms of your home. Light is measured in degrees Kelvin and the brightness of light bulbs mimic the brightness of the sun. To give you an idea of what this means, the sun is at its brightest at around midday when it measures a very bright, white-blue light that tops out at about 6000K. A morning sunrise or afternoon sunset will be a warmer or more orange hue and will measure in at about 3000K. Generally, 4000k is considered neutral.

So how do we convert that sunlight to inside light? If you’re used to incandescent bulbs, you’re probably thinking about wattage. But contrary to popular belief, wattage is actually the measure of energy a bulb uses as opposed to its brightness. To measure brightness you need to consider lumens, which will help make the conversion easier. As an example, a 60-watt incandescent bulb creates 800 lumens of light, but an LED bulb that produces the same amount of brightness only requires 15 watts. Here is a chart to illustrate the conversions.

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So after figuring out the math, how do you choose the right bulb for your home? If you’re a 9-to-5er, chances are that you’re home a lot more often when the sun is coming up or going down, and you’d probably be more comfortable with LED lighting that replicates a warm glow. This is especially true in relaxing rooms like bedrooms and living rooms. In these cases, I would suggest no more than 4,000 lumens. If you work from a home office or do a lot of cooking, these rooms require brighter light, so 6,000 lumens of light or greater might be more appropriate. 

It’s also worth noting that many LED light bulbs come with dimmer settings which can be very helpful in controlling light so long as your current fixtures are set up for it. I’d also keep an eye out for the ENERGY STAR logo when shopping for LED lights. While many manufacturers offer serious energy efficiency claims, ENERGY STAR actually tests and certifies the ones that offer the best products in the market.

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.