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  1. #1
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    Oct 2017
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    Contaminated AC system

    I'm a Roofing contractor and recently I got a email from a homeowner that we just completed a job stating

    "We are really, really happy with the work you did. However, I'm really sorry about this news but the air conditioner compressor was damaged and it contaminated the entire ac system. The first thought was that the crew that removed the old roof had covered up the compressor when we had the ac unit on and that's what burned up the compressor.


    On complete replacement of the ac system, it was discovered that a nail from the roof went into the coolant line which caused the compressor to over heat and contaminated the system. Therefore, we had to replace the complete ac system."

    They are asking me to pay for the new system at a cost of $.

    Is it possible to contaminate the whole system with a nail hole in the line?

    No one on my crew recalls freon being released, seems if we hit a line we should have noticed it. I'm not sure how old the existing system was.

    Is there a way for me to make sure we caused this before I shell out $
    Last edited by beenthere; 10-14-2017 at 06:30 AM. Reason: Prices

  2. #2
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    Apr 2007
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    Did you happen to take any pictures on the roof that might include the unit, we could probably get you a General age of it just from the design/shape/color, etc. It is possible to kill a compressor from running it without refrigerant, a nail hole could make the refrigerant leak out. I would guess for these things to happen, it’d be an entry level machine, or pretty old. If it were a brand new unit, I imagine a good contractor would of repaired it. How long of roofing nails do you guys use? Do you remember the unit looking brand new?
    There are two ways to do things, Right and Again.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Nov 2004
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roofuy57 View Post
    I'm a Roofing contractor and recently I got a email from a homeowner that we just completed a job stating

    "We are really, really happy with the work you did. However, I'm really sorry about this news but the air conditioner compressor was damaged and it contaminated the entire ac system. The first thought was that the crew that removed the old roof had covered up the compressor when we had the ac unit on and that's what burned up the compressor.


    On complete replacement of the ac system,
    it was discovered that a nail from the roof went into the coolant line
    which caused the compressor to over heat and contaminated the system.
    Therefore, we had to replace the complete ac system."


    Is it possible to contaminate the whole system with a nail hole in the line?
    _________________ DAMAGED THE COMPRESSOR ___
    ........................... would be accurate IMO ______

    No one on my crew recalls freon being released,
    seems if we hit a line we should have noticed it.

    I'm not sure how old the existing system was.
    Liability does not seem to be the issue here.
    ___ ___ THE EXTENT of Liability Definitely is.

    ________
    ASIDE: How does one make an observation of a release of Freon?
    ... {i.e. odorless in low concentration }
    ______ Who was actually there NEXT TO the condensing unit
    ______ from 8 PM to 7 AM (OR ANYtime for that matter) to "observe" the Freon release?

    __ Wouldn.t it be 100,000 times more evident that a hole was present in the refrigerant line?
    __
    Designer Dan
    It's Not Rocket Science, But It is SCIENCE with "Some Art". ___ ___ K EEP I T S IMPLE & S INCERE

    Define the Building Envelope and Perform a Detailed Load Calc: It's ALL About Windows and Make-up Air Requirements. Know Your Equipment Capabilities

  4. #4
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    Jan 2004
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    PA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roofuy57 View Post
    I'm a Roofing contractor and recently I got a email from a homeowner that we just completed a job stating

    "We are really, really happy with the work you did. However, I'm really sorry about this news but the air conditioner compressor was damaged and it contaminated the entire ac system. The first thought was that the crew that removed the old roof had covered up the compressor when we had the ac unit on and that's what burned up the compressor.


    On complete replacement of the ac system, it was discovered that a nail from the roof went into the coolant line which caused the compressor to over heat and contaminated the system. Therefore, we had to replace the complete ac system."

    They are asking me to pay for the new system at a cost of $.

    Is it possible to contaminate the whole system with a nail hole in the line?

    No one on my crew recalls freon being released, seems if we hit a line we should have noticed it. I'm not sure how old the existing system was.

    Is there a way for me to make sure we caused this before I shell out $
    What they said is plausible.

    The refrigerant release could have been slow enough that no one saw or heard it leaking out. And the compressor could have been damaged by being ran with no refrigerant in it.

    However, nothing they described as you posted it, required a complete system replacement. But the repair would not have been cheap either.

    I would think in this day and age of smart phones. Someone would have taken a pic of the nail hole/nail in the line set as proof.
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  5. #5
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    Jun 2006
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    As beenthere said it is plausible. I have seen roofers cover up running ac units (bad) and nails thru linesets happens. Both can cause compressor failures.

    IMO, They shouldn't get the benefit of a new AC in their house for free. How old is their original unit? Where was the hole? why was the lineset at the roof? How were you supposed to know?

    Might be time to use liability insurance....
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  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2014
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    I would want to see the nail piercing the line. But that's just me.

    Regarding how much the repair should cost, or how much liability you have, would depend on the age of the unit. For example, if the system is 20 years old, there's very little value to the system. If it is less than one year, then the system has a lot more value.

    Think of it like a car in a wreck. There's no way an insurance company is going to buy you a new car if your 20 year old car is totalled. They might give you $400, but certainly not $12,000.
    A skilled Tech would solder a relay on that board and call it good to go.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
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    I have seen this happen twice. What happens is the line set is ran up inside the wall and into the attic. Right where the line set enters the attic there isn't a lot of room so if you don't make sure the line set hugs the bottoms of the roof. When a new roof is put and nailed down a nail pierces the line set. Your roofers probably didn't hear it because it was inside the attic. I always make sure that my line sets are off the roof line.

  8. #8
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    Aug 2002
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    Southold, NY
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    I’ve seen a few lines pierced with your staples. Why you guys use 2” long staples on new roofs I’ll never know

  9. #9
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    Jun 2003
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    Texas
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    Quote Originally Posted by pecmsg View Post
    I’ve seen a few lines pierced with your staples. Why you guys use 2” long staples on new roofs I’ll never know
    I'm purty sure its to keep ac guys in business fixing leaks and running new ref lines! lol But, why run the lines that close to a roof line?

  10. #10
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    Aug 2002
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    Southold, NY
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    Quote Originally Posted by poppa View Post
    I'm purty sure its to keep ac guys in business fixing leaks and running new ref lines! lol But, why run the lines that close to a roof line?
    One trade helping another

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    San Diego, CA
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    In some houses the house isnt built with AC so the line set is run after the fact. Some times the line set is run before the roof even goes on in some condos Ive seen. Ive had to do a leak search on a new install where the lineset was run when the condo was still being framed but not AC was installed. We literally had to cut holes into the wall to find it. And when we found it there was a nail driven right through the suction line. We had to cut out a section and replace it. It was a pain.

    I remember asking the same question as to why roofers use such long nails when they arent going through super thick stuff.

  12. #12
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    Dec 2002
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    in a house, Appomattox, Va.
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    have seen it numerous times, and fixed the leak. I could see the comp being damaged. Have also seen hardi board nails and even hanging a picture in basement do this.

    It may be the nail gun noise was louder than the leak noise, and a nail in a line doesen't leave a gaping hole, since the nail is in it, like a nail in tire, leaks down slower, but if no background noise can hear it. OTOH, some people can not notice when they damage something obvious to everyone else.


    It can be very difficult to run a line after the fact and get clearance from roof sheathing, even if the line is a reasonable distance away, some people go crazy w/nail length. You should enjoy working in one of those attics for a day, like working in an iron maiden.
    If the line was run tight to the roof, even reasonable lenght nails sticking through 1/4" would poke hole in tubing. This occurs right at the top of wall where gable end roof comes over.
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  13. #13
    Join Date
    Aug 2016
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    Name & Model # of unit. I am in Detroit MI area. Is compressor smoked? Maybe get a HVAC Contractor you know to maybe take a look at unit, document age, condition. You mention "burned up the compressor". How long after job did they call you? This is reason for Insurance.

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