Most of today’s homes are stick-built homes with asphalt shingle roofs and unfortunately cheap rubber pipe boots are used to flash out the plumbing vent pipes. If you go back 50 years you will see many more homes that utilize lead pipe flashings and galvanized pipe flashings which in my honest opinion or much better options. In Greensboro, North Carolina where my company is based, I would guess that 95% of the homes have rubber pipe boots installed. The reason for this is when large construction companies build tracts of homes, this is the cheapest option and every saved penny counts.
The problem with rubber pipe boots
Unfortunately, the rubber boots do not hold up well to the Sun. A roof that is designed to last 25 years is installed with boots that only last 8 to 10 years. As you can see in the photo above, the boots get dry rotted from the Sun and begin splitting. Once this starts it is not long until chunks break out and water leaks into the home damaging the ceilings. By having your roof checked on a regular basis you can avoid damage to your home by catching this before it is too bad.
Solutions to the rubber pipe boot problem
There are several things that can be done when you are home becomes affected by rotting pipe boots. There are also several preemptive measures that can be taken such as using lead or galvanized pipe boots to begin with. Lead or galvanized pipe boots should especially be requested when replacing your roof. If you already have the rubber pipe boots there are a couple preemptive measures you can take such as adding polyurethane to the outside of the boot to prevent cracking. Once the pipe boots have began to rot, replacement is going to be needed in most cases.
Replacing rotted pipe boots
Once the rubber has began dry rotting and splitting there is usually no turning back. The pipe boot needs to be replaced with a new one which means tearing the old rubber boot out and installing a new one. The problem with this is it tears the shingles up because the pipe boot is installed during the roofing process and has shingles that lay on top of its flange. One way around this is to put a rubber cap over the split part of the boot which they sell at most roofing suppliers. Another way around this is to cover the entire boot with a device called a perma-boot.
This is the best way to repair a dry rotted boot or even to use as a preemptive measure on a home with rubber pipe Boots. The perma-boot is a tfo plastic 3 piece cover that slides over your vent pipe wrapping over the top Edge like a metal pipe flashing would. Each piece overlaps the next creating a waterproof seal that is hard plastic and UV resistant. The best part is that there is no removal of the old boot and the shingles remain intact, making for an easy roof repair. This means that you’re not destroying your roof in order to replace your faulty pipe boots but instead are covering them with a permanent solution that will not dry rot in the Sun.