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Help! My Skylight Leaks When It Rains

A skylight can be one of the most important features a home has since it can turn a room that might otherwise seem dark and dreary into a bright and cheerful space. It’s also one of the more vulnerable areas in the home, as it has several weak spots that rain can slip through if they happen to become compromised.

Skylights are also sometimes installed incorrectly, which can also lead to leakage. If your skylight leaks when it rains, this can lead to catastrophic damage inside the home. It can create unsightly dark spots on the ceiling, cause the wood floor to warp, and destroy property that it drips onto. If your home is experiencing a leaky skylight, here’s what you can do.

Figure Out What’s Leaking

While the individual parts that make up your skylight are probably all made from very strong, sturdy materials, they can still be vulnerable where these parts connect. That said, if you notice a leak, there are several parts of the skylight that are likely to be the culprits.

The Lens

The frame of the skylight holds the lenses together. A silicone sealant is usually used to connect these parts together and to form a watertight seal. Over time, however, the relentless assault of wind, rain, and other inclement weather can damage this seal. Even a small crack in the sealant between the lenses and the frame can allow water to make its way inside your home.

The Skylight Flashing

The flashing on your roof is thin and lightweight but serves a critical function: it redirects rain away from more vulnerable areas of your roof. Made from thin metal, you’ll notice flashing protecting areas of the roof such as the chimney and any valleys from the rain. This flashing is also installed around the skylight, and as long as it’s properly installed and remains in good condition, it will do an excellent job to keep water out of your home. However, if it becomes damaged by the weather, or if the metal begins to rust, it may begin to let the water in.
Other areas can develop leaks as well, and you’ll have to work to discover exactly where those leaks are coming from.

Locating the Source of the Leak

The easiest way to locate the source of a leaking skylight is to do a hose test. This is a two-person job: one must remain in the home, underneath the skylight, with a bucket. The other must spray the top of the skylight with a garden hose. Eventually, if a leak is present, the person inside the home should be able to see water droplets begin to form. This is the spot where the leak is.

You may also notice that there are several leaky areas. If that’s the case, you’ll need to fix them all before you can guarantee there won’t be any water damage inside your home every time a rainstorm blows through.

On occasion, you may notice water damage, and yet the garden hose will not yield any evidence of leakage. In this case, the leak may actually be caused by condensation. As skylights are in a higher part of the home, the temperature differences between the room, the outside, and the skylight itself can lead to water droplets forming on the glass. These will then drip without any obvious signs of a leak.

Fixing a Leaky Skylight

If your skylight leaks when it rains, the first step toward addressing the problem is to thoroughly clean it. Often, a buildup of dirt and debris can actually become the cause of a leak, for several reasons. Twigs, sticks, and branches can damage both the glass and the seal around it, leading to leaks. They can also become stuck between the frames holding the skylight together, allowing water inside. Sometimes, repairing your skylight is as simple as clearing it of twigs and branches.

The next step is to replace the damaged sealant. Waterproof silicone sealants can be purchased in most hardware stores. Install sealant over damaged areas, ensuring that the leaky area is thoroughly covered. In some cases, you’ll have to peel away some of the original sealant and replace it entirely.

If the cause of the leak is due to damaged flashing, you will have to replace the offending material. This can be a difficult job, not to mention a safety concern if you are not careful. If you need to climb onto the roof to repair some flashing, make sure you have all the proper safety gear for working with the tools. This means gloves, closed-toe boots, and eye protection (as well as fall protection equipment, of course). Carefully use a roofing hammer to pry away the damaged flashing. You can then replace it by nailing down new flashing made from aluminum or another durable material.

As we’ve mentioned, it’s also possible the source of the leak is actually condensation. If this is the case, then adding silicone sealant or replacing the flashing will not help. Your best option in the case of condensation is to improve the ventilation in your home and consider investing in a dehumidifier.

If the Problem Continues

If you can’t seem to solve the problem on your own, or if personally replacing flashing and climbing around on the roof is not something you wish to do, you can also contact a professional from Interstate Roofing. We specialize in the installation and repair of skylights, as well as other roofing features.

When a skylight leaks when it rains, in many cases, the problem is caused by improper installation. That’s why it’s important to avoid the problem entirely by securing the services of experienced professionals to perform the installation for you, and Interstate Roofing certainly fits the bill. We are also able to perform maintenance and repairs, no matter how severe the leak is or how extensive the damage that has already taken place is.

Help! My Ceiling Is Leaking!

It’s a sight no homeowner wants to see: water dripping down from the ceiling and into your home. Water leaks can lead to huge sums of damage, both to your belongings and to the structure of your home itself. When your ceiling is leaking, the cost of figuring out the problem and repairing it can go well beyond any damaged possessions or furniture. That’s why it’s vitally important that you do everything you can to determine the source of the leak, then call in the appropriate specialist. Here’s how to salvage the situation, do some detective work, then plan your steps from there.

Stop Any Further Damage

When you stumble across a leak in your home, the only thought in your head might be a panicked, “My ceiling is leaking!” It’s completely understandable if you’re caught off guard, but you have to maintain your composure. Once you know that your ceiling is leaking, time is of the essence. Move anything out of the way that might be more susceptible to water damage, particularly if it’s lightweight and easily transported far away from the leak.

Afterward, shove any furniture in the surrounding area far away from the dripping water. A coffee table may be able to sustain more drips than that paperback novel you keep meaning to finish, but prolonged exposure to water can cause wooden furniture or flooring to warp. Are there any rugs or upholstered furniture in the disaster zone? Move them out of the way and dry them as best you can. If you have carpeting that’s been soaked, you may even want to pull it up and let it air out. Yes, it’s a major pain to do, but if left alone, you could be putting yourself at risk of mold. Better to rip it up now and figure it out later than put your health at risk.

Stop Things from Getting Any Worse

With your possessions out of immediate peril, you’ll need to get the situation under control. It’ll take some time to find and fix the leak itself, so first, you’ll need to find a way to contain the leak until you can properly seal it. If you don’t, water will only continue to flow uncontrolled into your living space, potentially leading to even further damage to the structure of your home. Grab anything you can find that can catch and collect the dripping water and strategically place it underneath the leak. You’ll want to have multiple options on hand so that when your first container of choice begins to fill up you can seamlessly switch to another.

While not necessary, some people find it useful to place something in the container to help muffle the sound of the dripping. It might not stop your ceiling from leaking, but after a few hours of constant dripping, you’ll be thankful for the silence. Whatever you end up using, don’t forget to check on it regularly. If you leave a bucket unattended and it starts overflowing onto your floor, you might as well have done nothing at all.

Locate the Source of the Leak

Now that you’ve bought yourself some time, you can get to work figuring out just what exactly is going on. Try to pinpoint where the water is coming from, tracing backward from the leak toward the source. If you have access to your attic, climb up and start poking around with a light. Water stains, warping plaster, or other deformations can be helpful clues in tracking down the point of origin. Following the water back to its source will also help you find any other areas that may have suffered water damage.

Investigate the Cause

Once you’ve located the source of the water, it’s time to do some sleuthing to get to the root of the problem. Now, no one expects the average homeowner to be able to diagnose all mysterious leaks that may crop up with unerring accuracy, but understanding the nature of the problem will help you immensely when it comes to fixing it. There are plenty of things that can lead to your ceiling leaking, so work through the process of elimination and come down on a likely suspect.

Is the water coming out of a leaky or cracked pipe? Then the issue comes down to your plumbing. Is condensation gathering in your air conditioner, causing it to drip out of the unit? Then your HVAC system is the culprit to blame. Or is it gathering along the interior of your attic or crawlspace due to poor ventilation? Improperly regulated humidity can also cause water to gather and, eventually, leak down into your home.

What about your gutters, are they clear and directing away from the building? A clogged gutter leaves rainwater nowhere to go, potentially causing it to leak back into your home. Does the leak appear whenever it rains, or do you notice any breaks or protrusions on the inner side of your roof? If so, you may be looking at some roofing repairs. If you feel confident you’ve identified the source of the leak, it’s time to get some help.

Call in the Experts

Now that you know what you’re dealing with, you can call in the right backup. If it looks like your roof is the problem, Interstate Roofing is ready to help. With decades of experience providing roof repairs and maintenance in the region, we have the skills and expertise needed to patch up any damage to your roof.

Most leaks can be repaired quickly at our standard repair rates. If the problem is of a larger nature, we are happy to get your roof watertight temporarily and provide an estimate for a permanent fix. When it comes to leaks, there’s not a second to lose. Give us a call, and we’ll be there to the rescue.