A common cause of roof leaks: failed plumbing vent flashings

Check out the photo below.  Do you see the problem?

30x Zoom plumbing vent flashing

The white pipe sticking up out of the roof is a plumbing vent. The rubber boot at the base of the plumbing vent is part of the flashing kit for this vent, and the boot has dried out and split.  Here’s another photo of a split rubber boot, taken from the same roof at a different location.

Split boot at plumbing vent flashing

And here’s another one.

Split boot

This is what happens to rubber boots over time. They seem to last about 10 – 15 years here in Minnesota. Here’s water damage at a bathroom ceiling, which resulted from this defect.

Water damaged ceiling

The Fix

There are three ways of addressing this defect. The first is to replace the plumbing vent flashing entirely. This is the most labor-intensive option, so I can’t imagine anyone doing this.

The second is to slip a new rubber collar over the existing collar. You can find new collars at home improvement stores for under $10, and there are no tools needed for this repair.

4N1 Rain Collar

And a third option is to use a device that looks like a cross between a two-piece plumbing vent cap and Darth Vader’s helmet.  It’s called a Perma-Boot®.


It’s a simple product that can be easily installed in minutes and comes with a lifetime warranty.  Home Depot sells them for around $25, which is a more expensive option than anything else, but well worth the price.  They come in 1-½”, 2″, 3″, and 4″ sizes.

Written By

Reuben is a second-generation home inspector with a passion for his work. He grew up remodeling homes and learning about carpentry since he was old enough to hold a hammer. Reuben grew up thinking he was going to be a school teacher because he enjoyed teaching others so much. In a sense, that’s a lot of what home inspections are about, so Reuben truly does what he loves. Sharlene has worked with Structure Tech since 2000 and Reuben has been contributing to her blog since 2008.

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