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Replacing Vent Stack Boots

What are those pipes sticking out of your roof, and why they lead to leaks?


vent stack bootsEvery typical house with indoor plumbing has one or more 'pipes' sticking out of their roofs. These are typically 2"-4" pvc pipe which is connected to the rest of the plumbing in the house. These PVC pipes are usually enshrouded with lead or rubber 'boots' which are in turn tucked under the shingles. The purpose of these pipes is to provide air to the piping within the house so that waste water will flow out of the house.


vent stack boots2Over time, the lead boot starts to deteriorate, and is often actually eaten by grey squirrells. Rubber boots also expand and crack. These damages allow rain to infiltrate the house. If you see discoloration on ceilings and walls in baths and kitchens this infiltration is often the cause. If allowed to fester major problems will occur.


You must get on the roof to examine these boots to determine if they are a problem. Look for cracks, and any openings around the PVC. Replace the boot even if a tiny crack is apparent. To remove the old boot, carefully lift the shingles which are overlaying the boot. Lead boots typically are not nailed to the roof. Rubber and plastic boots typically are nailed, and require extra care. In either case you must carefully work the boot free. In some instances, cutting the boot is expedient. Now measure the pvc pipe to determine the size of replacement boot you need. Purchase that, and carefully work it onto the stack, while tucking the flanged base under the shingles. This too takes care. Nail down using roofing tacks, and dab the nail tops with roofing tar (available in a caulking tube).