Canadian Underwriter

How air conditioner installer got dragged into basement flood

March 12, 2019   by Greg Meckbach

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Moisture that an air conditioner collects could damage your client’s home if it doesn’t drain properly, but the client cannot necessarily blame the air conditioner installer for a flood.

Basement flood victim Samuel Sieb took Gandy Installations Ltd. to British Columbia’s Civil Resolution Tribunal but lost.

Gandy Installations put a furnace and air conditioner in Sieb’s home in 2016, Civil Resolution Tribunal Member Julie Gibson wrote in Sieb v. Gandy Installations LTD., released March 7.

Technician is checking air conditioner

Gibson ruled against Sieb, who wanted Gandy Installations to reimburse him for $761.25 that he paid to have his flooded basement repaired. The key question before the CRT was whether a professional who installs an air conditioner has a duty to check the drainage.

Sieb provided no evidence that the flood was due to improper installation of the air conditioner, Gibson wrote in her decision.

He claimed the basement flooding, which happened the evening after his air conditioner was installed, was caused by the air conditioner drain. The installer argued that it was more likely due to a pre-existing blockage that Sieb did not discover until the air conditioner had been running several hours.

Gibson ruled that an installer should choose a site with adequate drainage but does not have a duty to actually test whether the drainage functions properly. “It is not a requirement that the air conditioning installer pour water down the home drainage system to check for blockages,” she wrote.

Sieb did not provide the CRT with evidence of his restoration contractor’s opinion on the source of the leak, Gibson wrote.

He also did not provide evidence from anyone who repaired an air conditioner drain line blockage, “which he should have been able to do if that was the cause of the problem,” wrote Gibson.