How To Prevent a Skylight From Leaking

Articles | Roofing
August 21, 2023

Choosing to have a skylight installed in your home may be a decision you’ve been looking forward to as a homeowner. The extra sunlight can brighten the mood of all the home’s inhabitants, while also saving you money on energy costs as a result of the improved lighting. Properly installed skylights can also increase airflow throughout the home, improving the overall energy efficiency of the building and resulting in further savings on heating and cooling. These added benefits may also help to increase the value of your home, making for yet another reason to call your certified roofer and begin the installation process.

All these benefits go right out the window (no pun intended) the moment you find your skylight leaking, however. If water is allowed to get in through any weak points in the skylight—whether from the initial installation or they’ve developed over time—it can lead to catastrophic damage and expensive repairs.

In this article from Interstate Roofing, we’ll discuss the best practices to prevent your skylight from leaking so you can reap all the benefits while also minimizing the risk of having to deal with water damage.

It All Starts With Proper Installation

As with many things in life, when it comes to skylight installation, you get what you pay for. You may be able to find a contractor who boasts that they can perform the job quickly and very cheaply, but there are many reasons why this is not advisable (at least, not without doing a good deal of research first). The fact of the matter is that a great many of the issues that result in leaky, or otherwise faulty, skylights usually begin when the installation is first performed.

Our first piece of advice for preventing a skylight from leaking is to ensure that it’s installed properly in the first place. Take time to shop around and find an experienced and licensed roofer. Read reviews, references, and testimonials for any contractor you plan on hiring. It’s worth spending a little more time and paying a little more money at the outset, because attempting to cut costs by opting for an inexpensive, but also inexperienced, contractor early on can often come back to bite you later.

Building Blocks of a Great Skylight

So, how do you ensure that the contractor you are considering knows what they’re doing when it comes to skylight installation (or repair)? There are several things you should look out for.

The first is to ask what materials they’ll be using. As roofing technology has advanced, so too have the basic components used in the construction of skylights. For example, the glass used for the window itself should be made of a state-of-the-art material that is glazed in such a way as to block damaging ultraviolet radiation from entering your home. The flashing should be constructed from a strong, but lightweight material that is also resistant to corrosion; often this is a steel alloy. Finally, the sealant used to waterproof the entire structure should be a type of silicone that is highly weather-resistant.

Installation Process

Obviously, installing a skylight in your home will always begin with your contractor cutting a hole in your roof. As you might expect, this is often where mistakes can occur. The opening must be cut to the exact right size and shape for the skylight. If it’s too small, the skylight won’t fit, but if it’s even slightly too big, it may leave a gap that can allow water to slip through. Certified roofers are trained to measure and cut these openings in a very precise manner, and they will utilize high-end tools to assist them in the job.

After the opening has been made, the skylight is carefully placed and secured by your roofing contractors. Once they have done so, they will install a membrane around the skylight, which serves as weatherproofing. Nowadays, these membranes are frequently made from a high-tech, self-sealing material that allows them to close around any nails that are placed through them.

The next step is to place flashing around the skylight. The job of the flashing is to redirect water away from the skylight. It is a crucial element because even the most advanced materials will eventually wear out as a result of the constant onslaught of the elements. By keeping water away from the more vulnerable areas, such as the seams around the window, the flashing will go a long way toward ensuring the longevity of your skylight.

Finally, the flashing is sealed with water-resistant silicone caulking. This adds an extra layer of protection, blocks off any gaps that may exist, and helps to weatherproof the entire system for the long term.

What Happens If You Do Notice a Leak?

A properly installed skylight can last for many years before requiring a major repair or replacement. Having occasional inspections by a trusted roofer, coupled with preventative maintenance, can extend its lifetime even further. Even so, it’s possible that age, extreme weather conditions, or other damage can eventually compromise even the most well-constructed skylight.

Regardless of the reason, if you do notice your skylight leaking, you should contact a certified roofing professional immediately. If water is allowed to seep into your home for any length of time, it can not only damage the property inside the home, but it can also encourage the growth of wood-eating fungus in the roof itself. Ultimately, this can force you to pay to replace the entire roof and not just the skylight. As you might expect, this is an expensive proposition.

By addressing any problems the moment you notice them, you’ll prevent the possibility of costly repairs later on. Note that depending on when the skylight was added, it may also be covered by a warranty. Note that improper installation can often void the warranty. For this reason, you should always have your skylight installations and repairs performed by a certified professional from a reputable company such as Interstate Roofing.