Reuben Saltzman

Chewed Up Plumbing Vent Flashing

One of the most common type of plumbing vent caps in Minnesota is a two-piece frost-resistant plumbing vent cap, which has a piece of lead that can be bent to fit over a plumbing vent, preventing water leakage.  They’re easy to install, there’s no rubber flange at the bottom that will eventually split, and they’re made right here in Minnesota. The only downside?

They’re magically delicious.

Lead apparently has a sweet taste, and was used in Ancient Rome to sweeten wine. Squirrels like to gnaw on those sweet lead caps, and once a squirrel develops a taste for lead, they just can’t seem to help themselves. They keep coming back. I suppose all that lead can’t be good for squirrels, but the main focus is how this affects one’s house.  Once a plumbing vent cap is damaged, water can leak into the attic between the plumbing vent and the cap.  The photos below show a few examples.

Damaged plumbing vent cap 1 Damaged plumbing vent cap 2 Damaged plumbing vent cap 3 Damaged plumbing vent cap 4

The wrong way to repair the cap is to goop it up with tar.  This is ineffective and temporary.

Tar at damaged plumbing cap

Another wrong way to deal with a damaged gap is to use caulk.

Caulk at damaged plumbing cap

Another wrong way to deal with this is to install some kind of goofy cap.

Plumbing vent doesn't need a cap

The proper and simple way to deal with a damaged cap is to replace it.  Most caps are loose enough to just slide right off without any tools.  Check out the 15 second video below for a quick demonstration.

Replacement caps can be ordered online from F.J. Moore, which is a company located in Cannon Falls, MN. If you want to go crazy with your repair so the cap never gets destroyed again, check out this permanent solution by Kuhl’s Contracting.

Author: Reuben Saltzman, Structure Tech Home Inspections

          

One response to “Chewed Up Plumbing Vent Flashing”

  1. Dr. Nancy
    August 20, 2013, 1:43 pm

    Lead is actually quite tasty, a mix of sweet/salty, so I am told. Legend has it the Roman emperors went mad from their habit of drinking wine mulled with spices in lead pots. I have seen cases where cattle got into old lead based paint or batteries and had lead poisoning. Treatment is usually unrewarding.

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