Skirting board pinned through a water pipe - should carpenter replace the carpet?

Discussion in 'Carpenters' Talk' started by Tom O, Jan 13, 2021.

  1. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    Hi all,

    I had a carpenter fit new skirting boards in my house a few months ago. The walls were all newly boarded and skimmed.

    We had carpets fitted a month or so later after doing all the painting etc, and yesterday noticed that one of the carpets was wet near a wall underneath a radiator. After lifting the carpet to investigate, I eventually pulled off the skirting on that wall and found that one of the paslode nails used to pin the skirting is stuck in the wall, and presumably stuck in a radiator pipe - water is dripping out of the bottom of the wall directly underneath it.

    I think the nail went straight into the pipe and plugged it, because there was no leak for at least a month between skirting going in and the carpets going down. Then the carpet fitter has partially dislodged the nail when stretching the carpet, and it started to leak. I think it must have got gradually got worse since then.

    I'll have to cut into the plasterboard to expose the pipe and get a plumber to patch it up somehow. But that part of the carpet is sodden, and the supplier says it's likely to shrink and so would need to be replaced.

    In addition, there are two other rooms where the pipes run in the same position, and these have all had skirting fitted in the same way. I think it would be a miracle if the same thing hasn't happened elsewhere, since all the nails are pretty much in line with where the pipes must run. We should probably pull off the skirting in the affected areas and try to see if the same thing has happened elsewhere.

    I think the carpenter should have checked for pipes before nailing the skirting in, and glued it instead on these walls. I assume there is a tool for this. He also used 50mm nails, which seem unnecessarily long.

    A mitigating factor is that in one room, an old redundant pipe is visible running at the base of the wall. It's perhaps reasonable to see this and assume there were no other pipes? Though I think it would have been prudent to check anyway. He certainly should have checked in all the other places, or at least asked if we knew where the pipes were.

    Should the carpenter replace the carpet, if neccesary? I think at a minimum he should replace all the skirting we'll have to remove, and probably pay the plumber's costs.

    What are other's thoughts?
  2. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    Did you point out to him and make him aware that pipes are concealed (unseen) within the wall............grey area!
  3. Kas228

    Kas228 Screwfix Select

    50mm nails/pins does seem excessive for skirting. Have you had a chat with him yet?
  4. terrymac

    terrymac Screwfix Select

    You need to expose the pipework to find out for sure what is leaking. Is your central heating pressurised / sealed system ?
  5. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    I didn't specifically mention it but I don't think I really thought about it at the time - I guess I assumed he would ask any relevant questions. If I was going to nail skirting board into the wall, I think I would try to establish if I was likely to hit anything first. Besides - radiators don't get their water by magic right? In certain areas it's pretty obvious that there must be pipes behind where the skirting is going.

    Had a brief chat yesterday with him before I had confirmed that it was his nails. I'm trying to get a feel for the lay of the land before talking to him.
  6. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    Yes it's pressurised, though currently unpressurised for obvious reasons..

    I'll dig into the wall this evening to confirm 100%, but really there's no doubt that it's one of his nails.
  7. terrymac

    terrymac Screwfix Select

    If a nail punctured a pipe months ago ,on a pressurised central heating system, you would have had pressure loss.
    How soon after skirting was fitted were you aware of the pressure loss ?
  8. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    I haven't been specifically aware of pressure loss except for when I've been removing radiators to paint behind, then refilling and venting etc. There are lots of air traps in the system so I've been venting and topping it up quite a lot recently, making it hard to notice a slow pressure loss. Once I found the leak I deliberately depressurised the system to try and stem the flow.

    However, for approx a month after the skirting was fitted, there was no water leak. I'm confident of this because we were on hands and knees painting the skirting in this exact location and there's no way we wouldn't have noticed. Even a small amount of water discolours the bare floor quite obviously.

    The explanation that makes the most sense is that the nail completely (or 99.9% completely) plugged the pipe, and then the carpet fitters partially loosened the nail when kneeing the skirting, allowing it to leak. Either this or it has gradually rusted to the point where it now leaks. The nail appears to be rusty now.

    I'm sure the carpenter won't dispute that he fired the nail which ultimately caused the leak, but should he (or his insurance) cover my costs?
  9. terrymac

    terrymac Screwfix Select

    If his nail has indeed punctured a pipe , I can't see how he isn't responsible /liable .Is your pipe plastic ?
  10. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    No it's copper.
  11. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    His excess may/could be £1000 so he would have to bite the bullet and take it on the chin.
  12. terrymac

    terrymac Screwfix Select

    A nail in a copper pipe would almost certainly result in water loss instantly ,and evidence of the water loss within days.
    Would be interesting to see a pic of what you find.
  13. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    Is that a common excess?

    Sure will try and remember to take some.
  14. furious_customer

    furious_customer Screwfix Select

    I think he is ultimately responsible and if you made an insurance claim over it I am sure they would pursue him for costs.

    I have sympathy for both parties here - rotten for you to have such damage to your home and rotten for him to lose so much money at such a difficult time too.

    I assume he is a one-man-band rather than a large firm?
  15. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    just claim the cost of damage off the carpenter. At the end of the day he is a professional tradesman and should be aware of the risks. if he did not specifically ask where pipes run or say "if i nail this then i cannot be responsible for hidden pipes i am not aware of" then its down to him in my view
  16. Astramax

    Astramax Super Member

    Varies :(. Does he have insurance cover is the next question.
  17. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    tbh whether he has insurance cover or not is his problem, the liability rests with him unless he tried to ask his insurer to settle it. Unlike motor insurance there is no automatic transfer of liability* and its up to the "insured" to pass it to his insurers.

    * and even with a motor accident it is possible to claim from the individual concerned and leave them to deal with their insurers
  18. Tom O

    Tom O Member

    On the topic of insurance- we only got contents cover about 2 weeks ago, though have had buildings cover forever. This is because until recently the house was pretty much a building site with no contents in it.

    I wonder how they would feel if I claimed - since although the problem was discovered after taking out contents cover; the nail would have entered the pipe well before we took out cover. I'm not sure where we stand on that.

    Hopefully the carpenter will be covered..
  19. jonathanc

    jonathanc Screwfix Select

    as i say, whether the carpenter has insurance is his problem, not yours. if he decides to carry the risk personally then so be it. Second as to your contents insurance: you were not aware of this when you took the policy out and it provided it was not leaking at the time then you have a good argument to claim. However they will also wish to recover the costs from the carpenter. if you have legal cover a part of buildings & contents, use that
  20. FlyByNight

    FlyByNight Screwfix Select

    Two comments - fitted carpets are often part of the building fabric and covered by building insurance, at least in my experience.

    A nail going through a pipe may not cause an immediate leak. When putting down new floor boards for me, my brother in law did not hit a CH pipe, he hit both feed and return with consecutive nails. It did not leak until the nails were removed, or when removal starts.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice