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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 Category: Roofs

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.


In the Market for a New Roof? Know Your Options

Chelsea O'Donnell

With April showers often come leaks, which means roof replacement is on lots of homeowner’s minds this time of year. When thinking about a new roof, finding the right contractor, negotiating the best price, and deciding on the color and style are just a few of the options to navigate. But in the past, one thing homeowners often didn’t have to think about was the material, as asphalt roofs have been the most popular choice in our area for their cost-effectiveness and durability. But recently, metal has begun increasing in popularity. While metal roofs are more common in areas of the country with more extreme weather conditions, it’s always good to know about the different options available. So let’s take a deeper dive into the pros and cons of asphalt and metal roofs to help you make the best decision for your home.

The Asphalt Roof

Asphalt is the most popular choice with homeowners for a variety of reasons, but the single most important factor is almost always the price. The average cost to purchase the materials for an asphalt roof is nearly one-third of the cost of a metal roof. That cost differentiation gives asphalt the leg up almost every time. In addition to being the more cost-effective option of the two choices, there is a lot to love about asphalt. Individual shingles give a homeowner lots of color and design choices, and they are faster to install than a metal roof, often taking just a few days of labor. While most asphalt roofs come with a 30-year warranty, they are easy to repair if damaged, and a small section can be replaced without having to get a whole new roof. The material also performs exceptionally well in the rain, heat, sleet, and snow.

Of course, there are a few negative aspects of asphalt roofing that homeowners should be aware of. If you’re installing a new asphalt roof, I always recommend removing the old roof before installing new material, which does add to the labor cost. Another negative factor is the chance that mold, mildew, and algae will grow if a roof is shaded and stays damp for long periods of time. Also, while our Connecticut weather isn’t as severe as other parts of the country, very high winds can loosen shingles if they aren’t installed properly.

The Metal Roof

Even though they aren’t as common in our area, metal roofs have some very attractive qualities that make them worth considering. Firstly, the material is lighter than traditional asphalt roofs, and the metal sheets can often be installed right over regular asphalt as long as it doesn’t have water damage or rotten plywood underneath. Metal roofs also last longer than asphalt roofs, and maintenance is minimal. Mold and mildew cannot grow on metal so if you live in a damp area with lots of shade, this might be a worthwhile benefit. Another plus is that metal roofs are energy efficient all year round, helping to keep the house cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. Plus they perform very well in areas with very high-level snowfall.

Of course, there are a few cons that homeowners should be aware of, and the biggest one is cost. While metal roofs do last longer, the upfront cost can be three times as much as an asphalt roof. Additionally, if a metal roof needs to be repaired, that will also cost more as metal roofs are made in sheets and need to be replaced in that way. From an aesthetic perspective, metal roofs do come in different colors, but there aren't many more options in terms of design and aesthetic. Finally, it’s important to know that without the proper plywood installation and insulation, metal roofs can be noisy, which might not be a con for people who love the sound of rain storms.

No matter which material you use, it’s important to do your research to find the best product for your individual home. The right roof with the right contractor at the right price will ensure that you live comfortably with peace of mind for many years to come.

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.

April Showers Bring Roof Mold

Chelsea O'Donnell

Warmer temperatures and rain can only mean one thing this time of year. It’s roof mold season. My phone rings off the hook for cleanings in April and May when moisture and humidity kick into high gear, giving mold and mildew the perfect opportunity to thrive. So what’s with the black, streaky stains popping up on everyone’s houses and what can you do to get rid of them?

Stains on the roof are generally algae, which gets carried by wind or birds from roof to roof, and may not be visible until they have enough moisture, heat, and humidity to grow and spread. Now don’t be too alarmed, algae isn’t necessarily going to ruin your roof immediately, but it does affect the curb appeal of your home and the problem could end up damaging and pulling up your shingles if not dealt with for a long period of time.
An interesting fact is that copper, zinc, and lead are toxic to algae, and many newer roof shingles contain copper granules, which act as a barrier against any mold growth. Homes with older roofs won’t benefit from this technology, but it explains why you won’t see algae where metal flashing has been installed. If you’re susceptible to algae and in the market for a new roof, be sure to inquire about this type of shingle.

So now that we know what it is, how do we get rid of it? The easiest way to rid your roof of algae is a good cleaning solution, which can be picked up at the hardware store, applied using a pump sprayer and rinsed with the garden hose. One tip is to give any plants below the roof a good drink of water beforehand so they don’t absorb the solution. If you’re not comfortable on a ladder, call a professional to help you complete this task. A clean roof isn’t worth a trip to the hospital, and a local area home improvement specialist will be able to complete the job in just a few hours.

Once the roof has been cleaned, you might want to do something to prevent the mold from coming back again. As I mentioned, copper, zinc and lead-coated sheet metal are toxic to algae, so installing a strip of flashing will help stop that nasty fungus in its tracks. Choose a strip that’s at least six inches wide, and have it installed at the roof peak to ensure that the metal molecules wash down with the rain and protect the roof from mold build up.

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.