Roofing Nail Punctures Freon Line - Whose at Fault?

I just recently received a phone call from a customer whose HVAC guy discoved a freon line punctured by a roofing nail from an installation we did a few months ago. The HVAC guy found the punctured line in a 2nd story closet ceiling after he cut several areas of sheetrock out of the ceiling and wall. The customer is expecting me to pay for the damages which are over $900 for finding the leak, repairing it and refilling it with freon.

My question is, who is at fault? We installed the shingles properly with a 3/4" nail penetration. The freon line was installed right against the roof decking and covered by sheetrock and insulation.

Has this ever happened to anyone else? Does anyone have a disclosure or waiver the customer has to sign if this sort of thing ever happens.

The original builder and plumber may have to eat it since electrical wiring, plumbing, and HVAC work should not be installed in a manner that would allow such an incident to take place.

It sounds like the original installation inspection was not properly performed.

And how would that circumstance be your fault in a reasonable mind…?

You are supposed to do an attic inspection with every estimate. I have seen it done here a few times. The contractor caused the problem and you can not go after someone from years past. Hence you just paid for not looking in the atttic and choosing the correct nail length to not interfear with the ac lines. a 1 inch nail would have been a better choice maybe. But you are at fault here. Your nail hit the line.

i 100% disagree

the lines were improperly installed origanally. he just said that they were hidden behind sheetrock. probably no attic access (cape style). i wouldnt pay it.

who has enough time to inspect 100% of every rafter for lines?


Most of the time when I do my estimates, it is during the day time and no one is home, so I can’t inspect the attics.

Plus, the main ones I am really concerned about, are the old ones that may have skip sheathing in place.

At best, when I do check out a ranch or split levels attic, I just peak inside the hatch with my flashlight when I can.

Many home owners have the access hatch so cluttered up, it would take spring cleaning just to get to it.

I can not see how a hidden and unexpected and unforeseen predicament could possibly be his fault at all, with the exception being that the home owner had informed him about the hidden obstacle in the first place. They were in a much better position to know for sure.



This happened to me three years ago on the first day of the shingle install on a 20 yo home. The company paid it($400) without hesatation, with a sincere apology. They have done both the neighbors roofs since.

What do the neighbors roofs look like?


If he would have looked then he would have noticed the ac up there and well used a shorter nail. Maybe its me but i want to check the condition of the attic for mold, vents hooked up and other things. He should pay its a mistake he made. The home owner did not put a nail thru it.

Reguardless on looking in the attic he should pay. Its good buiness.

1 Like

No way, especially since it was stated that it was a cathedral ceiling.

The home owner was in the greater position to know of hidden obstacles and had the responsibility to advise the contractor accordingly.

I would tell the home owner to put a claim in through their home insurance policy and if they would want to try to subrogate the claim with my liability insurance, fine. Thats what insurance is for.


Same thing happened to us a few months back and we ended up paying for it, customer just took that 600 dollars off the final payment. Sucks to have to pay for the mistakes of others but sometimes life is like that.

As far as checking the attic? We do but in this case it was in an odd area. As far as using smaller nails? Code demands the nails penetrate the decking and in our case at least the line was run up against the underside of the roof deck. Sometimes things are unavoidable no matter how thorough you are, it’s called the X factor.

IMO just pay it and forget about it.

If he looked in the attic the ac would be there not hidden. Or atleast signs of lines.

Reguardless he should pay for it.

If he looked in the attic the ac would be there not hidden. Or at least signs of lines.

Yes… How is was he to know the lines were run improperly if they aren’t visible? Are you suggesting he should use nails on the entire roof that don’t meet code because there might be an unseen line running along the roof deck? Say what you like but you can’t avoid all the pit falls in this business. This is just one of those unavoidable situations that arises every once in awhile and there’s not a thing you can do about it.

[quote=“gtp1003”]If he looked in the attic the ac would be there not hidden. Or atleast signs of lines.

Reguardless he should pay for it.[/quote]

wow. i just had to register to post on this thread because gtp1003 is a complete idiot. read what you wrote, moron. anyway im new to the board, so hello everyone

well mrroofer,
hello and welcome. now lets get to know the vast amount of experience and knoledge that you offer us. or at the very least,the large amount the qualifies you to call someone else a moron. i got a feeling on this one!

1 Like


GTP is far from an idiot. He has proven his knowledge many times on this and other forums, which I can not say for you.

Although I disagree, as a matter of fact, very strongly with his conclusions on this topic, I would not for even a brief moment consider disparaging his knowledge and willingness to share with others.

Can the same be said for your vast posting history?

Lets hear more from you first.


1 Like

While I don’t agree with GTP on this particular topic, he is a long time respected member here.
He has proven his knowledge and experience many times…

wow. i just had to register to post on this thread because gtp1003 is a complete idiot. read what you wrote, moron. anyway im new to the board, so hello everyone[/quote]

Who the fork are you???
You should learn some respect or just go away.

This is an unusual and sticky situation.
How was the roofer to know?

Tar Monkey summed it up the best.

I just hope this doesn’t happen to me…

Thanks for sticking up for me guys. I might not have said the right thing but i still feel he should pay for the damage. SOmething similar happened to me a few years back doing a favor thats why i say pay. Its just the right thing to do.

My only reasoning is would the ac system bein the attic if the lines are there? If not then im wrong. No biggie we all make mistakes.

But i know nothing i swear nothing.


I will have to agree with GTP on this one. Your nail caused the damage regardless of the poor a/c instillation. If you tore off the roof and left nails in the driveway would you pay if the h/o got a flat? Good business practice says yes. As far as using a nail that penetrates 3/4 of an inch into the attic space, most shingles that I have installed over the years call for only 1/4".

Just my .02.


The local code here in Shelby County requires the nails penetrate the roof decking a minimum of 3/4", as do most roofing manufacturers specs.

We did an attic inspection, but this line was in a closet ceiling wall with the freon line pressed up against the roof decking. The local code states that in a concealed location (such as this) all piping of any kind must have at least 1.5" inch clearance or be protected by shield plates.

So as far as code and attic inspections we did everything we possibly could do to prevent this situation. The reality is that any contractor that did the roof would have been at risk to hit the line as well. It was preventing the inevitable.


If the line is run up against the roof deck it really doesn’t matter if the nail in question penetrates 1/4" or 3/4" does it?..

At that point then really its a judgement call. I would pay it and write it off on the taxes. It might be a referal for you later. It was done wrong but there is nothing you can do but fix the problem since your nail went thru the line.