Roof vents are essential to any household plumbing system. They allow sewer gases to safely escape to the outdoors without polluting your home and making you sick, and they also create neutral air pressure in your pipes so gravity can do its job and remove waste water from the home. However, the vents also create a potential trouble spot where water can seep into your home when the rubber boots around them crack or wear out. Read on to learn more about how to fix split vent boots and protect your home from water damage.

An Essential Component of Your Household Plumbing

The rubber boots on your plumbing vents should last at least ten years, hopefully more, depending on the quality of the material and your local weather. Once the rubber starts to split apart, however, water can drip into the roof – if you see water spots starting to form on your ceilings on the top floor of your home, the vent boot is a potential culprit.

Fortunately, replacing the vent boots is not a very complicated or expensive process. You'll need a ladder to get to the roof, some caulk, and a new boot to slide into place. You will also need basic shingle-repair tools like a knife, nails and a hammer, in case you need to lift shingles out of the way to remove the boot. Note that if you have metal flashing around your vent instead of a rubber boot, the replacement process is essentially the same.

From New Boots to a Full Sheath

Once you have all your tools in place on the roof, you first need to pry up or remove any shingles that are holding the boot or flashing in place. Be careful not to tear the shingles, or you will have to replace them instead of just hammering the old ones back in. Once you can access the boot, slide a knife under it to free it from any caulk (or remove the nails holding down metal flashing), clear any debris from the area and slide the new boot into place. If it was caulked or nailed before, repeat that process. Then nail the shingles back as they were, and you're set.

If you want to go the extra mile, there are also products that cover your entire vent in plastic sheathing. These items, such as the Perma-Boot, just slide over your existing vent, covering up any cracks in the rubber boot and preventing water from getting at potential access points around the vent. These products cost a bit more than repairing the boot and flashing, but don't require any shingle removal and should present a longer-lasting solution to leakage problems.

Place Your Household Plumbing in Good Hands

Although the repair is relatively simple, you shouldn't attempt to fix your own vent boot if you aren't comfortable climbing onto your roof, or if you don't have any experience with shingles. If you need your vents inspected or are having any other problems with your household plumbing, contact an expert plumber today.