More Publications

  • Cost Plus Billing
  • Domestic Freeze Breaks
  • Emergency & Temporary Repairs – Cost Plus Billing
  • Forced Air Heating
  • Hail
  • How Carbon Monoxide Affects the Home As Well As Health
  • Solar Storm
  • Sump Pumps



In the past, we have covered the topic of water damages resulting from pipe breaks caused by freezing water, including the water in both domestic and sprinkler pipes.  With the slowly falling outdoor air temperatures, and the severe cold temperatures expected to be coming, you might think this is another newsletter on this frequent topic – however, we would like to cover a new, up and coming topic: insurance fraud involving water losses.

Recent articles on insurance fraud have compared water losses with arson.  Both require an adjuster’s review of the insurance policy against the insured’s possible motives to determine if fraud could be the driving force.  However, unlike a fire scene, the first responders to a water loss are . . .

Thermal Expansion

Just like the 1984 hit song from the movie Beverly Hills Cop, The Heat Is On.  With the summer heat upon us, the mercury levels are rising and most of us located across the United States are seeing high temperatures in the mid-to-upper 90’s, and some areas have/are approaching or breaking the 100°F mark.

Although being phased out due to medical issues with the toxicity, mercury has been used in thermometers since the early 1700s due to its relatively high coefficient of thermal expansion, expanding and rising with increasing temperatures and contracting and falling with decreasing temperatures. Just like mercury, many of the modern day building materials used in our houses and buildings are also subjected to thermal expansion. In the summertime, when ambient air temperatures are well below 100°F, it is possible for walls, roofs and cladding systems located on a west or south facing wall, exposed to the heat of the sun, to reach temperatures as high as 140°F.


As Spring and warmer temperatures arrive, homeowners often become aware of issues regarding their roof which are speculated to have emerged during the preceding winter months and Spring storms.  At RFE, we have the expertise, experience, knowledge and know-how to determine the causes of all residential roofing issues and damage such as: Wind Damage, Unsealed Shingle Tabs, Hail Damage, Lifted Fasteners, Shingle Slippage . . .


With the Holiday Season behind us, we might start being reminded of the record breaking winters we experienced in both 2013/2014 and 2014/2015, and the multitude of wintertime claims that can be associated with severe winter weather.

At RFE, we have the expertise, experience, knowledge and know-how to determine the causation of all of your wintertime damage claims such as:

Ice Dams:  The melt water from ice dam formations  will leak inside buildings and cause significant interior damages to both walls and ceilings, and can also compress and reduce the thermal efficiency of the wall and ceiling insulation. . .

Mine Subsidence

Have you ever wondered what happens to a structure built over a void in the earth, especially if that void de-voids?  Probably not.  But, for some, it is not a matter of conjecture – it is a sinking feeling.  Many subsurface voids are created by underground mining for coal, formed ages ago in shallow, marshy areas where plant debris and organic matter accumulated, and were buried and compacted by overlying sediment.

The two types of underground coal mining are (1) room-and-pillar, and (2) long-wall.  Most underground coal mines are of the room-and-pillar variety, consisting of a number of rooms, called stopes, cut into coal beds.  These rooms are accessed by passageways from the surface:  adits (horizontal), shafts (vertical), and slopes (inclined).  As a room expands, pillars, or columns of coal, are left to support the room’s roof and control the flow of air.  Large barrier pillars of coal may be strategically placed to support surface features such as roads, streams, and railroads.


Evidence is a key component in any investigation. Often times, properly documented evidence can be the deciding factor in a loss adjustment settlement, mediation, arbitration, or court litigation. All evidence must be legitimized and a foundation must be established showing how the evidence was collected, who collected it, where it was collected, who has and had custody, how it was processed, and when changes of custody occurred. A $5 plumbing fitting that resulted in a $100,000 water loss is no longer worth just $5. It is now the key component to a subrogation case. That fitting must be protected and preserved. ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials) has specific guidelines and protocols on how to manage the handling, storage, and examination of the evidence. These guidelines will explain what you should and should not do to prevent spoliation.

Freeze Breaks February 2015

For the second year in a row, many parts of the country are experiencing periods of sub-zero temperatures resulting from the “polar vortex”.  Now a household word, the polar vortex is a low pressure system of strong, upper level winds over the northern pole that keeps the cold air locked up there, for the most part.  On occasion, the polar vortex becomes distorted and allows that cold arctic air to spill southward.  When it does, the wind speeds rise and the outside air temperature drops, leading to the potential of water damage caused by the freeze and thaw of indoor plumbing.

Winter Time Moisture - December 2014

Santa Claus, snow days, presents under the Christmas tree, holiday movies, Christmas songs, and New Year’s resolutions are only some of the things that we get to look forward to as the weather gets colder, the snow starts to fall, and we head into the winter season.  No matter what your holiday traditions are, the one thing that will definitely bring the Grinch to the holiday party is winter time moisture problems.  Condensation formation resulting in attic leaks and mold growth are only some of the problems from winter time moisture that can turn Buddy the Elf into Ebenezer Scrooge.

chimney fire

As the leaves are changing and the holidays are stacking up, many take a break from the bustle by sitting alongside the fireplace.  The smell and crackle of the burning wood has a great way of getting us to relax, even if it is just for a moment.  Unfortunately in our line of work, we know how quickly relaxation can turn to panic and fireplaces can definitely move us there in a hurry.

Photo  3 - Damage Repair Cost Estimating

RFE’s engineers are building construction and damage repair experts. We set an accurate Scope that allows RFE’s experienced construction estimators to quantify and cost that Scope. With geographically localized Unit Cost data bases from Xactimate, RFE can prepare legitimate repair and replacement estimates for any location in the country.

Photo 9 - Residential Heating Equipment

Knowing the common categories of residential heating equipment will help in determining where to look for the cause of a non-operational unit, and your potential source of subrogation. RFE is a leading expert in this field.

Photo 1 - Earthquake Vibrations and Building Damages

Earthquake vibrations can cause significant damage to buildings and structures. Even minor vibrations can cause building owners to carefully dissect their property for any type of damage that may or may not have been there before. It’s important to be able to determine if these damages are caused by the actual earthquake vibrations, or if there are other preexisting conditions.

Photo 2 - Fire Protection - Sprinkler Line Freeze Breaks

RFE, has years of experience in the investigation of losses involving sprinkler systems. Through analysis of design documents, construction correspondence, maintenance records, and site inspections and testing, we are able to determine the How and Why of the loss that our Client is looking for.


An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the eave of a roof and prevents snow melt from draining off the roof. Ice dams form as the heat from the building escapes into the attic and warms the roof deck enough to melt the snow on top. Several variables impact the formation of ice dams.

Photo 5 - Lightning Damage

Investigating damage suspected of resulting from lightning necessitates a systematic process that addresses all possible causes until each unproven theory is sequentially eliminated. RFE has years of experience in the investigation of losses resulting from lightning. Our scientific method of analysis, including site inspections, testing, and research, enables RFE to determine the How and Why of the loss for our Clients

Photo 6 - Mechanical Failure Analysis

Today’s analysis of mechanical failures often requires multiple steps, each determined by the results of the previous. At RFE, we have developed a systematic approach to the investigation and analysis of mechanical failures through our years of experience. Our scientific method of analysis, including site inspections, testing and research is unparalleled

Photo 8 - Mechanical & Electrical Equip Fire Investigation

A mechanical or electrical equipment fire can move quickly, leaving the insured homeless, without a place to work, or even ending in loss of life. The professional staff at RFE will work just as quickly to determine the cause and culpability of the fire, helping the insured to return to their normal routines

Photo 10 - Pipe Breaks From Freezing Water

At RFE, we have years of experience in the investigation of losses resulting from pipe breaks, supported by in-house laboratory testing on the effects of freezing water inside pipes. Through site inspections, system testing, and analysis of utility bills and maintenance records, the staff at RFE can quickly get the bottom of the causes of pipe breaks.