Pipe Boots -Common types

Pipe boot is a roof flashing that seals the plumbing pipes on your roof system.  Just about every home has several of them.  You can recognize them on the roof over rooms such as: bathroom, laundry room, or kitchens. They are available in a few different variety’s but most commonly are of two types: Rubber and Lead.

Rubber Pipe Boots

Rubber pipe boots come in two adjustable size ranges. The smaller version fits pipes 1.5″ up to a 3″ while the larger version fits a 3″ to 4″ pipe. Rubber pipe boots work by simply fitting tightly around the PVC pipe itself. There is a rubber ring in the center that slips over the PVC pipe and holds tight to keep water out. Rubber pipe boots are generally $5-$8.00 each.  Some have a metal base while others are completely made of a type of plastic.  The major drawback to a rubber pipe boot is that it will eventually deteriorate in the sun.  Based on my experience here in North Florida, you may see 10-14 years of service.  A roof that is 10+ years of age should have an annual inspection to ensure rubber pipe boots are not cracked.
Rubber Pipe Boot

Rubber Pipe Boot


Lead Pipe Boots

Lead boot with wire mesh protection.

Lead boot with wire mesh protection.

Before/After with painted lead pipe boot.

Before/After with painted lead pipe boot.

Lead pipe boots are commonly recognized as the higher quality over rubber.  They work by covering the entire pipe.  Since lead is very malleable, the flashing is easy to manipulate around the pipe itself.  Lead pipe boots are made in specific sizes to match common plumbing pipes: 1.5″, 2″, 3″, and 4″. Lead pipe boots cost from $8-$12.00 for a smaller 1.5″ up to $18-22.00 for a large 4″ boot. The benefit of lead over rubber/EPDM is that lead should last forever!  The major drawback to a lead pipe boot is that they fall victim to rodent (squirrel) damage.  Rodent damage is actually a very common cause for roof leaks. Defending against squirrel damaged pipe boots is not so hard.  Once can spray paint the boot itself which offers some protection but requires on going touch up.  Another alternative is to wrap the lead flashing with some small wire mesh.

Roof Maintenance is Key

No matter what type of pipe boot you have on your roof system the key is to keep an eye on them. A visual inspection at least once a year is recommended.  Older roof systems (10-12+ years) should be more frequently. Also, if you cannot climb on your roof you can always use a pair of binoculars to get a closer look! Just like most everything else in life, they key to longevity is through proper maintenance and prevention!!!
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