What Causes Skylight Leakage?

empty room with rustic timber ceiling and skylights

Skylights for Homes

Skylights bring an enormous amount of advantages to the homeowner, including daylight and rooftop ventilation. For homeowners looking to maximize the use of daylight in their home, a skylight can be an optimal choice. It’s also important to consider there are issues that can stymie the choice to install a skylight. Roof skylights can also provide unwanted summertime solar heat gain and wintertime heat loss. If a skylight is improperly installed, you can end up with high energy bills, rooms that are unusable certain times of the year, and expensive repairs due to moisture problems. Let’s review some pertinent information about skylights so you can weigh the pros and cons fairly.

Skylights with Screens

There are three main types of skylights: fixed skylights, and venting skylights. A fixed skylight has glass that is fixed in place and does not open or close. A ventilating skylight has glass that raises and lowers either manually, electronically, or with solar power. Ventilating skylights allow for air circulation by letting the hot air that rises, out. The last type of skylight is a tubular skylight. Tubular skylights are simple devices that direct natural light through a reflective tube to provide a diffused natural glow in a room.

Of these three types of skylights, venting skylights may be equipped with insect screens, and there are some brands that pre-equip their ventilating skylights with insect screens. Consult your local, trusted skylight contractor for details.

General Skylight Guidelines

The following guidelines will help you establish your skylight principles.

Life Expectancy

What is the Life Expectancy of a Skylight?

Generally speaking, skylights last anywhere from ten to twenty years. Excellent maintenance can increase this figure substantially. A substantial factor that would contribute to a shorter lifespan for your skylight is poor workmanship/installation. Hiring a local handyman to install a skylight may seem like a money-saving gesture, but you forsake the proper installation of this radically important roof fixture. Let’s remember for a moment that a window is being installed in place of metal or asphalt roofing shingles, creating a hole in your roof. If moisture were to permeate this important membrane, the damage would be dramatic.


How Do You Know if Your Skylight is Leaking?

As an elegant architectural detail, skylights are captivating. As with any captivating phenomena, there are drawbacks. Skylights are prone to leaking. In fact, skylight leak repairs are among the most common roof leak repairs seen in residential roofing. Diagnose the source of the leak as soon as possible with a thorough inspection. If you happen to notice that any other leaks are occurring, and not from your skylight, consult your local plumber for Alton, Il emergency plumbing.

Let’s return to your skylight leak for a moment. You’ll want to make sure that the source of the leak is not just excessive condensation that has moved along the underside of the glass and dripped down the side of the interior. This occurs more often in very cold climates, in single-glazed skylights, and in damp locations like bathrooms, kitchens, and greenhouses.

If your skylight opens, check that it is fully closed, and that the weather seals are in good condition. If the leak only appears in extremely cold and wet weather conditions, that will also be something to factor in. This will mean that you should look behind the skylight for leaves, ice, or snow which might be blocking the downhill flow of water and causing it to back up on your roofing shingles.


How Do You Fix a Broken Skylight?

If leaks at the insulated glass frame have become permeated with water, that means that the seal of the insulated glass has become damaged. You may be able to re-seal the unit against further water damage. Only a full replacement of the skylight will remove the condensation and opaque skylight glass of a failed unit. Alternatively, if the skylight leak is at the level of the roof flashing, it may be possible to make temporary repairs in the form of roof flashing cement.

Skylight Condensation

Skylight condensation occurs most frequently when warm, moist air rises to the ceiling and comes into contact with the colder glass surface that’s influenced by outside temperatures and weather conditions. Specifically, condensation is the conversion of vapor into liquid, which occurs when the air becomes saturated with moisture and releases it in the form of water droplets.

empty new room with mansard windows

Skylight Repairs

Due to the fact that skylights interrupt and penetrate the surface of a roof, they are particularly prone to leaking. Rainwater flows down the roof, collects at the top of the skylight, builds up, and eventually finds purchase around the edges of the window, where it collects, and can eventually penetrate the membrane. Commonly, condensation can be mistaken for a skylight leak. Rule out this consideration by investigating the skylight thoroughly. A skylight in a humid room, such as a bathroom (where showers naturally occur) can drip moisture. It may appear to be a leak, but isn’t. Make sure before you call a professional roofing contractor, that you can eliminate this factor.

Can Skylights Be Resealed?

When the accumulation of debris and rainwater has causes a sincere leak in your skylight, it will need to be repaired and resealed. A trip onto the roof will be required. While it is always advisable to call a professional to repair your skylight, it can be done by a conscientious homeowner. Before you begin any repairs, prep the area by cleaning the entire area around the skylight. Remove all the dirt and debris. Remove any twigs that make have gotten caught under your roofing shingles. Check the metal flashing around your skylight, and diagnose any possible problems.

Use a caulking gun and a tube of roofing cement to make the repairs. With even pressure, squeeze the trigger of the caulking gun along any portion of the flashing that’s coming away from the skylight edge. Continue to apply cement until all the visible gaps in the flashing are sealed. Check for leaks around the glass. Repair the areas with clear silicone.

Do Skylights Always Leak?

Skylights do not always leak, but if they do, there are some likely culprits. Skylights leak for the following reasons:

  • The flashing is damaged, corroded, or improperly installed.
  • Water has gotten through the roofing upslope of the skylight framing.
  • Condensation may be collecting and then dripping off the underside of a skylight that hasn’t been properly insulated against the cold.

For residents in the Bridgeview and Chicago, IL area, consult the experts at Prusak Construction & Roofing, Inc. for your skylight needs today! Call __PHONE__.