Skylights are incredibly beautiful and can add some much-needed light to your home. Having additional natural light skylights can also look to expand interior spaces, reduce utility bills, and help make your home seem a little more inviting.
The problem is, however, that skylights, especially when installed poorly, can be prone to developing water leaks. In fact, skylight leaks are among the most common roof repairs in residential homes. When a skylight starts to leak, it can be minor but can lead to expensive water damage, especially if it goes unchecked. A leaky skylight can also be an indication of other, more serious, hidden roof damage. You can contain and prevent skylight leaks by asking a roofing contractor to perform a regular roof inspection.
What Causes Skylights to Leak?
The first question to ask is what causes a skylight to leak. As with most things, it can be a variety of factors. Some people blame leaks on faulty product design but usually, it’s the skylight wasn’t installed or maintained properly. Sometimes it can be a combination of several factors including old age.
How To Spot a Leak
If you’re indoors, you might not even have to step outside to see if there is a leak around the skylight. If you see a dark spot around the skylight you need to distinguish whether it is a true leak or just built up condensation – moisture on the cool skylight surface. Depending on the skylight design, especially modern ones, some of them have condensation drip trays that collect extra moisture.
The best way to determine a skylight leak is to do it from a vantage point indoors. Look very closely at where water stains originate inside the building – trace stains to their highest point. The leak will likely be at the highest point from the wet spot.
Homeowners can have trouble determining exactly where the skylight leak is occurring, sometimes simply slather caulk or roof cement all over everything in sight. This is obviously not the best way to do it and can not only value your home but also can cause lasting damage. In addition, when professional roofers are called in, a roof-cement slathered skylight that is still leaking may be even more difficult to diagnose.
If the skylight leak is at the roof flashing, it may be possible to do a temporary repair using roof cement around the perimeter of the unit. While this can be used if a roofer cannot be contacted immediately, the best solution is to remove the shingles near the skylight and install a news properly.
Modern skylights have been designed by their manufacturers to make the window as simple as possible. As a backup to prevent leaks around skylights, during the installation process, roofers usually also install flashing which are lips to direct water away from the sealed area. It is a good idea to seal the skylight curb and surrounding roof area with a bituminous membrane.
Older bubble-type skylights that were mounted flush with the roof surface are notorious leakers because they relied entirely on sealants between shingles and the skylight. Newer curbed skylights are much more reliable.
Indoors, if the ceiling drywall is badly leaking, it is best to remove the damaged drywall material completely, remove any wet or stained fibreglass insulation, and clean the ceiling area. It is always best to get a professional contractor to do this, rather than a DYI project.
What Can You Do To Prevent Skylight Leak?
Many if not all skylight leaks can be prevented through seasonal roof inspection. A roofing contractor will look for damage to the shingles, and gutters, but will also check the flashings for holes, cracks, or other signs of damage or deterioration. They should also check the interior of the house for issues that could be causing your problems. It is best to schedule roof inspections during the Spring or Summer to make sure your home hasn’t sustained any damage during the harsher winter months.
Taking care of your roof with regular check-ups is a great way to prevent skylight leaks. Roof maintenance is especially important around winter time, more so than in other months because of the damage, the cold can do to the skylight and a roof in general. This is largely due to the threat of ice dams, which can cause costly damage.
First, after a particularly heavy snowstorm, you should clear your roof of snow as quickly as possible. Quick snow removal does not allow precipitation time to melt and refreeze on the roof, creating ice dams. Ice dams can block drainage to the point that moisture can seep into the home through the roof and skylight.
Another factor to consider with skylight leaks is the humidity level in the highest floor of your home. Too much humidity in the air, which can come from the laundry room or bathroom, can cause condensation on skylight glass while leading to leaks or even cracks around the frame. Ask your roofing contractor to suggest an appropriate ventilation system or dehumidifier for your home to prevent condensation.
If you hire an inexperienced roofing who is not familiar with skylight installation, then you can be in trouble down the road. If the skylight was installed on an older roof as a retrofit, and especially if the installer did not install the skylight properly, leaks at the skylight are likely. Always ask the roofer about their experience with skylights.
Hire a Professional Roofer to Help
Skylight leaks can be very difficult to repair, and we don’t recommend you do it yourself. If done poorly it can lead to significant interior and exterior damage. Instead, call for the advice of a professional. It will be cheaper in the long run and will prevent you from a lot of headaches.
If you notice leaks around your skylight, contact Cambie Roofing, a family owned & operated local roofing contractor with decades of experience in residential and commercial roofing. We’ll evaluate your skylight and surrounding shingles and recommend repairs that will fit your budget and remedy your water problems.