Roofer hit line to air conditioner under decking, who is responsible


Roofing a new roof, hit an air conditioner line under decking, up against decking , are we responsible for it or the plumber who installed it?


It is the plumbers fault or whoever attached the lines to the roof decking
without the required shielding. However, that is an up hill battle and in
the eyes of the homeowner you put the hole in it and should fix it and the
other guy will just twiddle his thumbs while you figure it out and the
empty ac unit gets more expensive to fix while its empty of freeon.
Your best bet is to pay for the patch and get it filled up asap and
explain to the customer that her ac lines were installed improperly against
the roof decking but you appreciate the work and will fix it to get them
back on their feet. Then talk you your salesman about peeking into the
attic on every sale to look for mold, improper insulation, ventilation,
sheathing problems, and OF COURSE if the ac lines are against the roof
I know from experience it has happened twice over the last few years and
the first one cost me about a grand because I played the its the plumbers
and ill figure it out card and the second time it cost me under 500 because
we immediately had a company reline and refill and explain and come out
looking like the good guy.
Good luck.

Ricky Southers


Southers Construction, Inc



You should have a pre job check list that covers this and other reasonably common issues that can occur during a roof replacement. It covers you in the event one of these rare events happens. I don’t see how the roof can be blamed for what’s on the bottom side of the decking. If it happens to have been an insurance job, the insurance should cover it as consequential damage on the same claim.

Do yourself a favor and create a pre job check list. I won’t allow a roof to be built without one being on file signed by the Homeowner.


Questions, questions.

Why would a plumber install an air conditioner line? That said, it is the responsibility of the HVAC contractor to locate the lines for his work in the proper position. This has happened to us several times, as well. Provisions for just this type of peril are in our contract for re-roofing homes. Does it hold water every time? I can’t say that it does, but is does help and on most occassions we have recovered our money for repairs made.

If you are roofing a house for a builder and this is new construction, the builder needs to find another HVAC contractor.


I’ve run into this before. Each contractor is responsible for knowing the code book related to their trade. Most States have a mechanical code that is derived from a larger organization. For example here is some verbiage from the Virginia mechanical code. " In concealed locations where piping, other than cast-iron or steel, is installed through holes or notches in studs, joists, rafters or similar members less than 1.5 inches (38 mm) from the nearest edge of the member, the pipe shall be protected by shield plates. Protective shield plates shall be a minimum of 0.062-inch-thick (1.6 mm) steel, shall cover the area of the pipe where the member is notched or bored, and shall extend a minimum of 2 inches (51 mm) above sole plates and below top plates." That verbiage may or may not apply in your particular case.
You should identify what the code is for your area and decide if you are at-fault or not. It may not be as simple as a freon leak. Keep in mind that if the oil escapes that it can seize up the compressor and be a lot more than just silver brazing and adding Freon. A delicately written letter addressing the homeowner and referencing the codes would be a good idea if it applies in your situation.


Its happened to me 4 times now.
Since i was forced in florida to renail all the plywood decking since oct 2007.
We have taken extra steps for several years now.
We locate the AC unit and see which rafter the freon line could be a threat.
We usually will identify and Not renail the plywood on this rafter on the bottem 8 ft.
2 months ago it happened to me again and it was by a simple roofing nail. A standard 1 1/4 nail…
So now we will yellow crayon outline the underlayment also and not put roofing nails in this area as well.

How i handle it, is i explain the codes,
How the HVAC guy didnt do his job correctly and its freon line was not protected by codes at the time of installation.
I can fix it for under 500.
But if the customer wants a new freon line installed for 1000 or more, He can pay for it.


I’m a little late to the answer suite, but I’ve hit more in the past year than ever. We hit 4 this past year. It pretty much impossible to climb in every attic and try to find an AC line that’s bent or soldered into a 45, up against the deck. If you’re wondering what I do? First I kick the tires off the truck and piss and moan about the person that installed it that way. Try to convince myself its not my fault, but it is my problem.
I fix everyone of them by calling the AC guy, but I always tell the owner that the AC guy did a poor job of installing the lines. You have to remember, these are usually drilled through the top plate and bent towards the attic, so that area is very hard to get to when bidding a roof.

Small units usually run me about $400-$600 for a repair, vacuum and charge. The scary thing now is the last one, cost us $1600 because it was a 5 ton, R22 unit. Called 2 guys to ask how much they charged for a pound of the gold, when my guy said $90 a pound. When the new proposals went out, I placed another addendum to the list, about AC and water lines that are placed too close to the deck that they are subject to being hit by a nail. Now it might be an uphill battle, but when you sign my contract, you’ve agreed that you’ve read and understand what your signing. At least I have something to fall back on if I hit an R22 line, a year from now and it’s $200 a pound. It’s frustrating.


Good post rooferama,
Yes , i was warned by the AC guy what could happen.
That freon cost a fortune!