July 19, 2024
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Skylights and Leaks: A Guide to Avoiding Common Installation Issues

Skylights offer a beautiful way to bathe your home in natural light and create a connection to the outdoors. However, improper installation can turn this dream into a nightmare, leading to leaks and potential water damage. Leaky skylights can cause significant problems, from damaging your interior ceilings and walls to fostering mold growth.

This guide equips you with the knowledge to avoid common installation issues and ensure your skylights function flawlessly for years to come.

Understanding Potential Leak Points:

Leaks can occur around several areas of a skylight:

  • Flashing: Flashing is a crucial component that seals the gap between the skylight and the surrounding roof material. Improper flashing installation, using the wrong type of flashing, or using flashing that’s damaged or corroded can all lead to leaks.
  • Curbs: The curb is the raised structure on your roof that supports the skylight. Leaks can occur around the connection between the curb and the roof deck if not properly sealed.
  • Seals: Skylights rely on seals to prevent water infiltration around the frame and between the glass and the frame. Over time, these seals can deteriorate and require replacement.
  • Drainage Systems: Some skylights have built-in drainage systems to channel water away from the opening. Clogged drains or improperly installed drainage systems can lead to water backup and leaks.

Preventing Leaks During Installation:

By taking these steps during installation, you can significantly reduce the risk of leaks:

  • Choose a Qualified Roofing Contractor: This is paramount. Opt for a reputable and experienced commercial roofing contractor with a proven track record of successful skylight installations. Ensure they are licensed and insured, and ask for references.
  • Proper Flashing Installation: Flashing should be made of high-quality material, and properly installed with the appropriate overlaps and slopes to direct water away from the skylight. Use different types of flashing for different roof materials to ensure a watertight seal.
  • Curb Construction and Sealing: The curb should be constructed with waterproof materials and properly sealed at the connection points to the roof deck.
  • Sealant Application: High-quality sealant should be used around the entire skylight frame and between the glass and the frame. Ensure the chosen sealant is compatible with the skylight material and the roof material.
  • Drainage System Maintenance: If your skylight has a drainage system, ensure the contractor cleans and inspects it thoroughly during installation to identify any potential issues.

Additional Tips for Leak Prevention:

  • Inspect Your Skylight Regularly: Schedule regular inspections with a qualified roofer to identify any potential problems with flashing, seals, or drainage early on.
  • Keep Debris Clear: Leaves, branches, and other debris can clog the drainage system and contribute to leaks. Regularly remove debris from around your skylight and clean the drainage system as needed.
  • Address Minor Issues Promptly: Don’t ignore minor leaks or signs of deterioration. Prompt repairs can prevent them from escalating into major problems.

Signs of a Leaky Skylight:

Being vigilant can help you identify potential leaks early on. Watch for:

  • Visible Water Stains: Water stains on the ceiling or walls around the skylight are a telltale sign of a leak.
  • Mold or Mildew Growth: Mold and mildew growth around the skylight can indicate moisture problems and potential leaks.
  • Rotting Wood: Leaking water can cause the wood framing around the skylight to rot.
  • Sagging Ceiling: A sagging ceiling near the skylight could be a sign of water damage within the roof structure.

By understanding potential leak points, choosing a qualified contractor, and following preventative measures, you can enjoy the beauty and benefits of skylights with peace of mind. Remember, early detection and prompt action are key to preventing major repair work and costly water damage. Let your skylights be a source of natural light and connection, not a source of headaches.