Change Your Houses Shoe Really!


February 17, 2011 11:50 PM

You may not realize it, but your house has shoes! Ok, really they’re boots, and maybe they’re not for walking. But your house has one, or two, or three, or more!

You say you don’t know what a roof boot is? What? How’d you get on my jobsite? Did I hire you? You’re got to maintain roof boots, especially roof boots here in the Raleigh & Wake Forest area with all our hot summers. Roof boots wear out and can cause leaks and ugly brown stains. Or worse! That stain inside on the ceiling isn’t so bad, but left unattended it will be!

Ok, since I now know that you don’t know what a roof boot is, let’s show you. You can’t work with me and not know about roof boots, we change them all the time. In fact, get up on the roof with me and I’ll take you through the whole process. It’s pretty simple, but be sure to take precautions getting on the roof. Better safe than sorry!

A roof boot is essentially a piece of flashing that goes around a vent pipe penetration in the roof. Vent pipes are necessary to do at least three functions: release backed up sewer gas outside of your home (to pass the smell test), allow oxygen into the system to allow bacterial breakdown of waste, and to equalize pressure to allow P-traps to hold water (again, to pass the smell test!) and keep your sewer in you sewer and not in your house. They do more, but I don’t want to bore you. You can learn more on Wikipedia or a quick internet search.

So on the left is a picture of a roof boot. It’s that thing up there on the roof. No, not the hole! We fixed that hole earlier, and you can see the photos of that on our Facebook page. We’ll take care of that in a future post here in the Rain. But glad you noticed the hole, lest you fall in that as we take our trip up on the roof. Step carefully!

Ok, now we’re up on the roof and you can see what a roof boot looks like up close. Go ahead, lean it, it won’t bite. Get close and take a look! But it may have a smell! Remember about the sewer gas? Yeah, not so pleasant on the roof sometimes.

Well, now to get this boot off that we’re up here. No, put your boots back on! I mean the roof, and hand me the pry bar if you don’t mind. I’ll get the shingles off.

There, shingles off!

Change Your Houses Shoe Really!

Now to slide the new roof boot over the top of the vent pipe. wait a minute! Someone caulked this one! Why would they do that? The roof boot even is named "No Calk" (yeah, it really is). It must have been leaking before, or was cracked and they thought this would help it to not leak. Now there is caulk all over our pipe, and we can’t put the new one on until this stuff is scraped off.

These roof boots have a tight fit around the pipe, and the caulk left on the pipe from the previous "work" will stretch the boot too far. We’ll be sure to have a leak if we don’t get that off. Ok, all clean now.

NOW, hand me the new roof boot, and I’ll slide it over the vent pipe like so. Great!

Now we’ll nail down the roof boot and re-install the shingles. We’ll use 1-1/2" galvanized roof tacks. Oh, and that’s why it’s important to take the shingles off carefully: we like to use them again since they match already. Matching old shingles can be a challenge, but sometimes may be necessary. And usually the new roof boot is not the same size, so we have to adjust the shingles to fit around the new boot properly. Hand me the shears and I’ll cut the shingle to match the curve of the roof boot. got it!

Ok, we’ve got the roof boot nailed down, got the shingles back in place. Whoa, wait! Don’t get down yet. We’re not done, mister! If you leave those nail heads exposed like that I’m letting you come back and fix all the water damage on your off time. All those nails are through the shingles, through the roof felt (no, not the green stuff growing on Jay Markanich’s roof. but this stuff ), and through the plywood. If water gets around that nail head.

So anyway, hand me the roof cement and I’ll take care of this pretty quickly. NOW we’re done.

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