Ask an Expert: Winter Losses

Ask An Expert is a question-and-answer column designed to address common questions related to forensic investigation and property damage. Each month we’ll feature one or two questions submitted by you – our readers and customers – and provide detailed, easy-to-understand answers. Email your questions to [email protected] or submit your questions here.


Question #1: Can you explain more places to find case-specific snow loads for areas with mountains and rural areas with no organized building departments?

Dennis Rich, P.E.: Most areas, even rural and mountain, have some sort of building department.  However, if you cannot contact a local (city or county) building department, defer to state building code departments which can be found online.

Question #2: Do ice dams damage the shingles? How common is this?

Dennis Rich, P.E.: Ice dams can cause damage to shingles by causing water to back up under the shingle, freeze, and lift the shingle, thereby causing the shingle to tear and delaminate the underlying shingle along the seal strip.  During cold weather, shingles are more brittle and susceptible to cracking or splitting when lifted.  Also, once the seal is broken, there is no guarantee that shingle will properly reseal.  Damage due to ice dams is not commonplace, but it does occur.

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About the Expert

Dennis Rich joined Donan in 2012 as a forensic engineer based out of the firm’s Milwaukee, Wisconsin office. Mr. Rich has worked in the following industries: industrial steel and concrete design, residential construction and design, commercial construction and design, and manufacturing structures construction, design and modification. His areas of expertise are structural engineering and residential and commercial construction, design and inspection. Mr. Rich’s other project capabilities include residential and commercial roof inspections, structural evaluation after fire losses, and water intrusion, among others.

Mr. Rich is a licensed professional engineer in Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin. He holds a Master’s and Bachelor’s degree in Civil/Structural Engineering from Michigan Technological University.

View Dennis’s full professional profile here.

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