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Compliments of:Choice Office Image
DF PhotoDavid Fialk, REALTOR
 Choice Realty Co.
732-283-3400 Office Direct
August, 2016
In This August, 2016 Issue
Stains on Asphalt Roofing Shingles
Surface residues or discoloring stains can affect almost any type roof. One particular condition that has been an issue in southern areas for many years, but has become more commonplace in other regions in recent years, is the staining of asphalt shingle roofing caused by algae. Generally this conditions only affects a roof's appearance; although, when present on certain roof products or when there are other detrimental conditions present, it may impact the overall service life of the roof.
The staining and discoloration caused by algae initially appears as dark brown and black, or sometimes greenish streaks on the roof surface. It's most noticeable on white or other light-colored roofs. This discoloration is different from the stains caused by dirt and tree debris that tends to accumulate on localized areas of a roof; but it is not uncommon to find both conditions on the same roof.
Because of its appearance, the discoloration from algae is sometimes referred to as "black mold" staining. But the majority of the growths are not mold fungi at all, but a type of algae formation that feeds on organic material such as the filler (calcium carbonate) used in the ceramic granules installed on the surface of the asphalt shingles.
The algae growth tends to occur most often on shingles with northern and eastern exposures or where the roof is shaded and slow-to-dry after rains. The growths can be found in almost all regions, although the problem is more widespread where the weather is warm and damp a good part of the year. But just even short periods of wet summer weather can allow the algae to get established and begin spreading. Cold, dry weather will slow or stop the spread, but may not eliminate the condition altogether, as the stains will remain, and the algae will continue to spread when conditions are favorable again.
Algae Spores are carried by the wind. Once the spores alight on a roof, if conditions are favorable for growth, the algae will continue to spread, typically moving up and across the entire roof - and release more spores that move from one roof to the next throughout a neighborhood. The subsequent growth of moss and other fungi that thrive on the algae and other organic matter that accumulates on the roof can exacerbate conditions.
Commercially available treatment products can be used to arrest the growth, and in some cases clear the staining. There are also professional roof cleaning services that specialize in removing the stains or abating the spread. Only cleaning solutions recommended by the roof manufacturer should be used.
Some methods used to remove or fight the algae are potentially damaging to the roofing and to the surrounding property. Aggressive washing (e.g., by scrubbing, or high-pressure spraying) and the associated foot traffic on the roof can cause loss of granules or other damage to the shingles - leading to premature shingle failure.
To avoid injury or roofing damage, it is best to have roofs treated professionally. The cleaning solutions will make the roof surface slippery and hazardous. Before applying cleaning solutions, any heavy dirt buildup or debris should be carefully removed. Foundation plantings should be covered and the applicator should wear protective glasses, gloves and clothes. Some cleaning solutions can kill grass and other vegetation, so run-off from the treatment process should be collected or diverted to a suitable drainage point. It's also important to rinse the gutters and other surfaces with clear water to prevent the solution from corroding or staining them.
While some treatments will kill the algae immediately, it may take several days or weeks for the color to fade. Unfortunately, cleaning is, at best, only a short-term benefit in most cases. If spores are present or return, the algae will begin to grow again as long as favorable climatic or weather conditions are present.
Actually the best way to fight the staining and discoloration from algae is to prevent it from growing. Manufacturers offer products with algae-inhibiting features. Labeled "algae resistant" (AR) or "fungi resistant" shingles, they have zinc granules mixed in with the normal ceramic granules on the surface of the shingles to help prevent algae growth. Copper or zinc strips placed at the ridge area of the roof can also control the growths. Installing a dark roof will not prevent the algae problem but it will be less apparent.
Note: These tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at www.housemaster.com.

Check Your Storm Protection Before the Storm 
Now is the time to make sure you are prepared for a fire, storm or other emergency event that may lead to days without access to basic utilities or render your house uninhabitable.
This includes making sure you have adequate
insurance protection and an emergency survival plan in place.
Following a disaster, many homeowners are stunned to discover their insurance doesn't cover everything they lost - and sometimes doesn't cover any of their losses. Take the time to fine-tune your coverage now - to avoid even more headaches should a disaster ever strike.
Standard homeowner policies do not cover flood damage from rising water, whether it's coastal flooding from a hurricane's wind-whipped storm surge or inland flooding from heavy rains. Special flood insurance may be your only protection from flooding. Even if flood insurance isn't required by a lender because you no longer have a mortgage, think twice before forgoing flood protection.
Not all policies cover damage caused by wind or hail. Even if you are not in an area frequented by high wind and regular hail storms, you may want to consider this coverage. Your insurance agent can provide information on your current coverage as well as your options.
Standard policies usually limit payments on valuables such as jewelry, silverware, antiques, boats and guns, and computers. So if you're a collector or have high value possessions, you may need to get a special endorsement to ensure reasonable protection.
If you live in a condominium, find out what coverage your condominium association provides. You will still need your own homeowner's policy to cover any damage that may occur to your unit and its contents. Pay attention to your deductible or out-of-pocket expenses. Most policies have a higher deductible for hurricane damage.
Does your policy cover the replacement cost or depreciated value of your possessions? Most policies cover the "actual cash value," or depreciated value, of personal belongings, which means you won't get what you paid for your furniture, electronics and clothing if they're ruined. It costs more to insure them for their replacement value, but you'll have an easier time getting back on your feet.
If your home and possessions have increased in value or you've made improvements to your property in recent years, check your coverage limits. Consider increasing your coverage if the policy doesn't cover the current value of your home and its contents. Many policies make automatic adjustments as replacement costs increase; even so, you need to make sure your policy keeps pace.
Make an itemized inventory of your belongings, including costs, purchase dates and serial numbers. Attach receipts to the inventory sheet. Your insurance company may require proof of the cost of any item for which you make a claim. Dated photos or videos of your possessions are also a good idea.
Keep a copy of insurance records in a safe deposit box or with a relative or friend. These records should include your insurance policy, inventory records and the phone numbers for your agent or insurance company for reporting claims. Upon receiving an evacuation notice, you should take insurance records stored at home with you.
If your property is damaged, hire only licensed and reputable workers, preferably from within your community. Beware of fly-by-night repair businesses that request payment before the work is done.
Have a Plan in Place - for all Types of Emergencies
It's also important to have an emergency plan in the event of a major storm or other disaster. Begin by putting a list together of what each occupant needs to know and do. This list should include a house escape plan, the locations of all emergency shut offs for the home's essential systems and emergency phone numbers. The emergency plan should also include the tools and other items such as fire extinguishers, flashlights, first aid kit, utility tools, food , water and food that may be needed during an event or for the days immediately afterwards.
Once a plan is worked out and put on paper, tour the house and review key issues with all occupants so they know where everything is, and understand what needs to be done and under what circumstances.
First, review the escape plan so everyone is aware of the quickest and a safest way to get through and out of the house. There should be a primary route and secondary escape plan for each room or area of the house. The need for ladders or other help for window access or egress and other special issues should be reviewed. The plan should also include a primary and secondary meeting location outside the house, and alternate ways to contact each other, including through someone outside the immediate area.
If the garage door has an electric opener, this should be disconnected from the door so the door can be manually opened should the power go out. This disconnect is usually identified by a cord hanging down from the bracket connecting the opener mechanism to the door. It should only be used when the door is in the down position.
Making sure everyone knows where the utility shut-offs are located is also very important to help prevent any fires or other incidents that could compound the extent of damage or injuries.
   Main Electrical Shut-off: This is the one that most often needs to be turned off,
particularly in areas where the wiring is mostly above ground, due to falling trees and other wind damage that can occur. It is usually located in an electric panel in or outside the garage, or in a utility room or basement. There may be one single main circuit breaker or fuse to shut-off all the electricity in the house. But be careful as there may be multiple breakers that need to be turned off to shut down power for the whole house. Check any labeling that may be present but take some time now to confirm that it is accurate and tag or relabel the shut-offs as needed. If you are in an area regularly subject to storms and/or power outages, consider a generator.
   Gas Main shut off: This may be outside, usually on the street side of the house foundation at the gas meter, or if propane, at the tank. A wrench may be required to turn the gas valve off. Mark this shut-off as we  ll
   Water Supply Shut-off: The water shut-off for municipal systems is usually in the basement or a utility room, but may also be outside at the str eet-side foundation. If water is supplied by a well, there should be a shutoff at or near the water tank.
   First Aid Supplies. General purpose first aid kits can be purchased that include small amounts of most items needed. But also stock extra band aids, wraps, and antiseptics, and antibacterial lotions. Also include a few days supply of any critical medication and create a plan for anyone that may have special medical needs.
   Fire Extinguishers. All homes should have fire extinguishers. Best locations include the kitchen, garage and utility area, and anywhere there is a fireplace or stove. General purpose extinguishers are best for homes; check labels carefully as some are designed only for specific type fires. Review fire extinguisher usage with all occupants. Also have a hose available at outdoor faucet at all times (subject to winterization).
   Flashlights and Tools. Maintain a supply of flashlights, lanterns and extra batteries. Store some of the extra flashlights without batteries so that they are not damaged due to battery corrosion. Put together a toolkit with basic utility tools (hammer, screw drivers, pliers, hand saws, tape, adhesives, rope, and nails. etc.) and keep it for emergency use only. Also include personal protective equipment such as masks, gloves, and rain gear, and several sets of clothing, just in case.
   Emergency Contacts. Maintain a list of emergency telephone numbers to contact the fire department, police, emergency services as well as key relatives, schools, employers and other helpful numbers. If certain cell towers or localized power outages occur in the immediate area, even if you have service it may not be possible to get in touch with your primary contacts, so additional emergency contacts should be setup for relatives or friends a distance away. Local health, police, fire department and emergency management officials can provide additional information, particularly about special local issues.

Note: These tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at

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Driveway Seal Coating
Periodically applying a seal coat to an asphalt driveway will not only improve its appearance but will help it last longer. A seal coat protects the driveway from the sun's ultraviolet rays and helps prevent water from seeping through cracks, where it can contribute to freeze-thaw damage or undermining of the driveway.
New asphalt driveways should be allowed to age a year or so before applying a sealcoat. Generally a recoating is only needed every three years in most areas; however, in sunny, hot climates or where the driveway is subject to heavy traffic, more frequent application may be required. Whether a new or existing driveway, the appearance of fine cracks is a clue it is time to apply a seal coat. The graying of a driveway's surface is another indication the asphalt is drying out.
If you are ready for a little hard labor you can tackle sealcoating yourself, and should be able to do a good job provided you use a premium grade product and follow the manufacturer's directions and. When contemplating whether to do it yourself, getting an estimate from a professional sealcoating company may help in your decision.
A professional applied seal coat may double your cost; however, your back may appreciate it. In addition, the seal coating and crack-filling products used by most professional applicators are often better than those available at home centers.
The basic choices are either an asphalt-based product (a byproduct of petroleum refining) or coal tar (a byproduct of coal processing). Most consumer-available sealers are water-based and contain fillers, additives and asphalt. With the inclusion of special additives in asphalt-based sealers, their durability and resistance to oil and gas, which can breakdown the asphalt, has improved over the years; but coal tar products are still generally more durable and more resistant to oil or gasoline damage. From an environmental standpoint though, asphalt products are better because they do not emit high levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
Product cost alone may not determine quality, as asphalt products can be more expensive depending on the amount of additives included. The best way to determine quality may be the length of the warranty. Better seal coat products have a five to six-year pro-rated warranty.
If you decide to do it on your own, make sure your back is up to it. The amount of product required will vary depending on the type, amount of sand fillers, and the condition of the driveway. Most estimates indicate five gallons will be needed for each 250 - 400 sq. ft. But it is best to purchase a few extra returnable containers to make sure you can finish the job without interruption. Under estimating the amount needed is a common mistake, which can lead to trying to stretch it out too much, ending up with a less than uniform appearance or adequate protection.
Before beginning, all cracks over 1/8 inch need to be filled with crack filler compatible with the sealcoat product. Next, any spot residue from oil leaks or other contaminants need to be treated per the sealant manufacturer's recommendations and the driveway needs to be power washed. Most manufacturers recommend a squeegee type applicator; however, a special brush may be needed for rough areas.
While seal coating can help maintain a driveway, there is a limit to its effectiveness in prolonging the driveway's service life. If the original base it was installed over was not sound or it was a clay or silty soil, or if the driveway has weathered to the point that there are numerous or large cracks, resealing may have minimal value.
A sealer can cover hairline cracks and other small, isolated cracks can be repaired with success; but if the driveway has settled or heaved excessively, or cracked to the point it has "alligator" cracking as pictured below it is beyond the point where any crack repair or seal coating will be of much help. Exposed to freeze-thaw cycle will only accelerate the damage when there is extensive cracking.

Note: These tips are only general guidelines. Since each situation is different, contact a professional if you have questions about a specific issue. More home safety and maintenance information is available online at

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"A REALTOR You Can Rely On"
David Fialk, REALTOR
Choice Realty Co.
1144 Green St.
732-283-3400 Office Direct
732-283-2100 Office