Leaking Skylight: Why It Happens and What to Do

Jan 01, 2011
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Skylight on roof

Skylights are meant to let in extra light, not water. Added natural light makes your home feel brighter and more spacious, but leaking skylights can take all that beauty away and replace it with rotting structures or mold if you don’t catch them in time. So, if you have leaking skylights, read on to let Networx tell you why they leak and what to do.

Reasons for Leaking Skylights

If you notice a small amount of water leaking out of your skylights, there are several simple ways to verify where the leak started. First, double check to make sure that the skylight is fully closed. Then verify that the leak is not actually pooled condensation from the underside of the glass. (This happens often in very cold climates, damp rooms and with single-glazed skylights.)

You’ll want to look at the area around the skylight from both inside and outside (using proper safety precautions) to check for damp or stained surfaces. Then, clear away any leaves or debris that have gathered on the skylight and check the skylight itself for cracks. Seal cracks with a layer of clear silicone along the entire length of the crack.

Inspecting the Roofing and Flashing Around a Leaking Skylight

Once you’re sure the water is penetrating from the roof outside, look carefully to see if the shingles and flashing around the skylight are properly installed and functional. Roofing should be firmly nailed down, so correct any lifted shingles.

Next, take a look at the flashing. The purpose of flashing is to make a watertight seal between the skylight and the roof, so any visible defects or damage (like corrosion or pinholes) are signs that your flashing needs to be replaced. You should also check to see that the roofing material extends all the way around the flashing, including each side and the top. If there is space between the roofing and flashing, debris and water can get trapped and cause leaks.

Sealing Flashing Around a Leaking Skylight

Start by clearing any water or debris that has collected between the roofing and flashing. Then lift the roof shingles away from the edges of the skylight so you can access the flashing. Use a putty knife to add a layer of roofing cement in the gap between the edge of the flashing and the roofing. This will provide a seal against future leaks as long as it doesn’t dry out or become brittle. You’ll need to check the roofing cement sealant every few months to make sure it is still functioning properly. If it is peeling or dried out, remove it and apply a new layer.

If these do-it-yourself repairs don’t do the job or if you are uncomfortable hanging around on your roof long enough to find out, then find a reliable roofing contractor near you. Certified roofers will be able to repair your leaking skylight quickly and efficiently.

Author Sirena Rubinoff, a writer based in California, specializes in budget decorating solutions. Ask Sirena how to decorate for less.

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