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Lawn Customer A/C stopped, wants us to pay repair bill. NEED ADVISE!!!

Discussion in 'Lawn Mowing' started by romnesremodeling, Sep 25, 2012.

  1. romnesremodeling

    romnesremodeling LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    Hello everyone,

    My brother and I recently mowed a lawn for a customer and we ran into a problem. We had mowed the lawn around 10 in the morning. Later that night the customer called to inform me her A/C was not operating. I knew exactly what had happened. While my brother was trimming the 3ft tall grass around the A/C unit, he accidentally hit the exposed wiring coming from the ground and going into the unit. When I say exposed, I mean you can see the colors of each wire, with no protective cover of any kind. Some wires were bare and the wire nuts were brittle and broken from being exposed to the weather.

    That being said, when the weedeater got a hold of the wires, one was pulled loose, thus turning off the A/C. After receiving the call about no A/C I immediately went to her house and connected the wire (green wire to green wire) and then came back home. The next day around 1 I get a text saying that the A/C is still not working and she will call a repair man. I knew that meant she was going to expect me to pay for the bill.

    My brother and I went back to her house to find out that someone had altered the wiring and removed a section that had been used as an extension (probably from a prior weedeater incident by the homeowner.) Now the wires are completely altered from what I had seen the day before. The customer stated she had a friend try to fix it and that she was connecting wires while the power was on. She made the statement that the A/C was working AFTER her friend "fixed" the wires, but then it quit. When I questioned her statement I asked, "So your friend got it to work, then it quit again?" The customer stated no, that it hasn't worked since we hit it the other day. My brother and I were unable to determine the proper wire configuration so we left.

    The customer sends me a message today stating that the amount we owe her for the repair bill of a blown transformer is $245. She made sure to add, "Which was caused when your brother hit the wires."

    Here are my questions:

    1.) Are we at fault for hitting her bare, unsafe and exposed wires that are obvisouly not up to code?

    2.) Would hitting the wires with a weedeater cause the transformer to blow, or could it have been her friend that was attempting wiring configurations with the power still on?
  2. grandview (2006)

    grandview (2006) LawnSite Gold Member
    Messages: 3,465

    Send her a letter in writing as to what happened. Cancel her and put it in her ballpark. Lesson learned, don't trim to close to the a/c unit.
  3. kawakx125

    kawakx125 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,130

    i'm not 100% positive on this, but isn't green wire in housing reserved for grounding applications? if that is the case i don't think knocking out the ground would blow a transformer. i'd think an improperly wired transformer could cause it to blow though. its a gray area on who is at fault, their stuff was just asking for damage being unprotected but then again always look to make sure where wires are running around ac units and be extremely careful
  4. Dave does lawns

    Dave does lawns LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 257

    Did you inform her about it first or did you leave it and wait for her to call you?

    If you waited for her to call you. I'd say that you should foot the $245 bill. If you informed her when it happened then I'd say you did your part.

    If it were me I would have called her immediately to inform her of the situation and to say that it had to be fixed before you would service anywhere near the unit again. By fix I mean wires no where that my trimmer could hit it.
  5. C Jovingo Landscaping

    C Jovingo Landscaping LawnSite Senior Member
    Messages: 436

    You didn't start with this is a new customer, so gonna assume she is a reg customer. With that said, why would you let grass get 3ft tall around AC unit?
    Posted via Mobile Device
  6. zturncutter

    zturncutter LawnSite Bronze Member
    Messages: 1,308

    This is why the building code in many locales requires A/C control wires to be enclosed in conduit, might want to mention you would be happy to call code enforcement to make sure it was up to code especially seeing as she wants you to pay for it.:laugh:
  7. Darryl G

    Darryl G Inactive
    Messages: 9,500

    Sounds to me like you owe the lady $245. You broke it, you pay to fix it. I agree that if your brother knew that he hit it the she should have been notified immediately...not sure if that's the case from what you wrote. And were the wires bare and nuts broken because your brother wrapped up in them or were they that way. Just pay the bill and apologize for the inconvenience you caused her.
  8. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,166

    Not always the case on control voltage. I used to do refirgeration work and there is no definative code, local customs yes. The company I installed for used their own color code to help confuse other contractors.
  9. knox gsl

    knox gsl LawnSite Fanatic
    Messages: 6,166

    This whole mess could be avoided on several levels. A. Don't take on over grown lawns without doing a good walk through. B. Don't do damage and just walk away. C. Don't try to fix something you have no business working on. I would just pay and walk away form this deal. If I hit it and let the customer know up front and the unit was out of code I would put the ball in her court but being as you just walked away and then later tried to fix it you assumed all liability.
  10. romnesremodeling

    romnesremodeling LawnSite Member
    Messages: 2

    I wasn't aware of the wires being hit until I received the call from the customer that night. The customer didn't even realize the A/C wasn't working until she got home that night. My brother knew he got close to the wires while trimming, but when he saw them he stayed away and continued trimming elsewhere.

    The grass was 3ft because the customer only calls us when the weeds are high. It's not a customer that really cares about her yard.

    The wire I reconnected was green, but it wasn't a ground. It's a thermostat wire and the color codes don't mean the usual green=ground.

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