Pneumatic De-ice boots are used to break ice off of the wing. The boot itself inflates with air in cells running the length of the wing. When inflated the ice breaks off. They are a crucial component to flying safely and should be maintained to avoid degradation.
Prepping and sealing BFGoodrich De-Ice boots is great preventative maintenance service that should be done minimum every six months unless rain strips the coating off the boot. If the boots are not coated they will deteriorate from the elements also known as rubber vulcanization. Ozone, UV rays, turbulence, aggressive cleaning, neglect, solvents, wet washing, and no protection are the contributors to De-Icers breaking down. Bugs can also etch the rubber leaving unsightly imprints due to their acidic nature. Deteriorated De-ice boots can lead to cracks in the rubber. If too many cracks are in the rubber the aircraft may not be able to shed the ice build up. Replacing de-ice boots is also very expensive.
The coatings create a physical barrier from the elements for the rubber and help shed ice. The process is called prepping (removing old coating) and sealing(applying new coating) the boots. When prepping most boots are made by BFGoodrich and therefore, Goodrich Aerospace products should be used.