Skylights are lovely things, admitting plenty of light and generally brightening the mood of any room. Yet sometimes skylights leak. They are literally holes in a roof, a part of your house not usually intended to have holes. Why do skylights leak? And how should you repair a roof leak around a skylight? We can think of six reasons why skylights leak. We also know more than six ways to repair them.
We will roll out six reasons your skylight is leaking, but first a caution: stay off your roof! Do not attempt to diagnose a roof leak or any roof issue by walking on your roof. Even on a one-story ranch house, roofs are dangerous places. Enlist the help of a trained, well-equipped roofer to look at your skylight.
Do you know the age of your roof and skylight? Both features of your Charleston-area home can wear out. Sometimes the problem with a skylight is its age. Metal fatigues. Wood rots. Rubber deteriorates. Caulking gets stiff and brittle.
A local, professional roofer can examine your skylight from inside your home and from your roof to roughly determine its age. This can be a great start because you should not spend money on a skylight long past its useful lifespan. A new skylight may be the economical answer.
Your roofer can determine if, indeed, your skylight is leaking or the water is coming from some other source. Here are six possible reasons why skylights or the surrounding roof could be leaking into your Charleston-area home:
- A wandering roof leak — Your skylight sits within your roof’s field shingles (or metal panels), and all around it, your roof extends up to the ridge and down to the eaves; a ridge leak can wander down between your roof layers before dripping through drywall near your skylight
- The skylight itself — Sometimes the skylight frame (metal or wood) loses its structural integrity, and small amounts of moisture can bead up, then drip down into your living space
- Condensation — The skylight could be entirely watertight, but the powerful heat of a South Carolina sun can cause condensation to form on the inside glass, then pool and drip inside your fine home
- Faulty installation — Roofers are best equipped to install skylights, though handymen and do-it-yourselfers will claim expertise; faulty installation is extremely common and often doesn’t reveal itself for years, as materials degrade and gaps open up
- Failed flashing or weakened roof cement — Flashing is thin metal used to bridge and seal gaps between unlike materials, such as the skylight and the roof sheathing; roof cement is a sticky adhesive used to hold parts in place; if either fails, your skylight can leak
- Improperly installed insulation — Every gap and space within the walls and roof of your home should carry insulation to keep your expensively treated indoor air indoors; poor or missing insulation allows water to accumulate and enter your building envelope
The solutions to your skylight or roof leak have to be tailored to the problem. This is the difficulty with relying on do-it-yourselfers, “helpful” neighbors, or handyman services. They do not have the expertise to properly assess the source of the skylight leak, and they usually do not have the resources to fix the problem.
The best way to diagnose the true cause of water infiltrating around or near a skylight is to contact your local, helpful residential roofer. After a complete inspection, your roofer can give you remedies for the real issue (skylight, roof, insulation, condensation, etc.) and save you money on needless “repairs.”
Be open to the idea that the original skylight may need to be replaced. But also be ready to hear how a few dollars’ worth of caulking may cure the problem! Do not be afraid to ask your friendly roofer plenty of questions about your options.
If, for example, you are even mildly contemplating a complete roof replacement, you may be better off combining a new skylight with a new roof so the job is done correctly once and for all. This decision also gives you maximum options, from skylights to sun tunnels. If you plan to move within a year or so, a less expensive repair may work to your benefit.
If you plan to remain in your Charleston-area home and want to enjoy worry-free service from the skylight, talk honestly with your roofer about your budget, schedule, and concerns. You seldom go wrong by selecting the highest quality installation or repair your budget will allow.
Skylights are only one of many home features that Trico Exteriors in Charleston, SC is ready to handle for you. Contact us today to learn all we can do to maintain, protect, and improve your home in the tri-county area.