On a recent trip, I offered to help a relative with some handyman chores. I began with a walk-around, like a mini home inspection, to get an idea of what needed to be done. In these instances, there are two likely places you will find me: on the roof, or in the crawlspace.
In both places, I found some immediate tasks. In the crawlspace I did a quick repair on a break in the drain line with a rubber collar – it was the moisture on the exterior of the home along the foundation that was a clue, before going under the house. Here's another good example of why you should walk around the exterior of your home from time to time. Also, see this link re: hot water heater relief valves and piping the discharge outside from under the house.
The roof presented a common problem, but a more tricky fix. One of the first places I go when looking at the condition of a roof is the flashing, and the vent stacks. Gaps in these places can easily lead to leaks that often go unnoticed for some time. The rain collar (or "boot") around the vent stack pipe can become dry, brittle, and begin to crack; it no longer seals tight against the pipe. Often the flashing and shingles are fine, so it seems a shame to have to tear out the flashing just to replace the collar.
In this case, the shingles are nearing the end of their life cycle, and I could see a small job turning into a bigger mess by trying to unseat older, brittle shingles in an effort to install a new vent stack flashing. Knowing solutions often come to mind while working on something else, I opted to continue on some other jobs until I could come up with a better plan.
As luck would have it, Ask This Old House was on TV that night. Even better, the segment was on a similar problem – water was running down the vent pipe and causing a stain below. Tom Silva introduced the idea that you could replace just the collar, and not the entire flashing. He suggested buying the individual part, or tear one out from a new flashing (assembly).
Again, good fortune was on my side when I found the individual collars at the local Home Depot store. The proper name is “Rain Collar for No-Calk® Roof Flashings” (from Oatey). Don’t forget to follow the instructions on the product card when you make your installation. In Silva’s case, he put two beads of “special sealant made for roofing applications” over the existing collar at the point it met the pipe – a little like using packing under the bonnet nut on a faucet. I chose the route of “No caulking needed” per the instructions, in part because I recommended a replacement of the roof in the near future.
Hats off to the folks at Oatey. Some clever product people figured out that the collar may fail before the flashing, and that enough people would probably want to replace the collar alone, so why not make it into a standalone product. Since it was new to me, I was surprised to learn (after contacting Oatey), this product has been around since the early ‘80s. This is a huge time saver and it makes an otherwise challenging task on older roofs that much easier.