My Contractor Put a Nail in a Water Pipe
I recently had about $45K of remodeling done to the main floor of my 23 year old house. I was very happy with the contractor throughout the process until a recent event. The remodeling work was completed approximately 2 months ago. Last Friday I found water leaking from the ceiling of my basement. It turns out that the contractor's finishing carpenter nailed a piece of baseboard trim into a copper water pipe. The room behind the wall is the powder room with the sink directly on the other side of the wall. The hole in the pipe sealed, but eventually the seal broke and the water leaked onto the basement ceiling and got part of the basement carpet soaked. I had a plumber in to fix the pipe and contacted my contractor.
On contacting my contractor (including a photo of the nail that penetrated the pipe) she denied that the damage to the pipe and basement was her responsibility. Her reasoning was:
"The original builder should have left more room to the edge of the studs for pipes placement. As well a metal cover plate in front of the copper pipe for protection was missing. There is no way for the finish carpenters to know where pipes are.
I am willing to help with some of the drywall repair work but cannot be faulted for the damage. The original installation wasn't done properly. Had it been there would have not been a problem."
I contacted the plumber who did the repair work and he told me that everything associated with the powder room plumbing was according to code and that the metal cover plate is only required when a pipe is running through a stud, not running parallel to the stud. What the plumber told me was consistent with the research I did. (See International Plumbing Code section 305.6 regarding pipe protection.)
When I followed up with the contractor on these items, she said she could find plumbers that would disagree and insisted that she was not at fault. She further said that when nailing the baseboard trim into the wall, the finishing carpenter wasn't trying to nail into a stud and that it wasn't necessary to nail into the stud. I then asked her why the carpenter used such long nails (the nail was at least 2 inches long). She said something to the effect that it's supposed to be done that way. She insisted that there's no way her carpenter could have know where the pipes are in an inclosed space that her crews hadn't opened up. She said she was willing to help repair the damage but would not cover all associated costs.
I again followed up on her rationale for not being at fault. My research showed that baseboard trim SHOULD be nailed into studs and that is why such long nails are used.
I've attached a photo of the inside of the wall where the nail penetrated the pipe. The yellow circle shows the nail that did the damage. I also have a picture of the damaged pipe after the plumber removed it, but I can't figure out how to attach 2 photos.
I'm looking for help out there. Is there any way that the contractor should not be fully responsible for the water leak and the associated damage?