It’s well worth it to invest in a skylight for your home: the extra sunlight can do a lot to render the overall environment that much cheerier. The health benefits of a little sunshine have been well studied, and the serotonin boost it provides can turn a gloomy household into a much happier one. What happens, however, when the weather turns, and your skylight begins to leak water into your home? Needless to say, this can be the opposite of uplifting, as water damage, in addition to being tremendously inconvenient, can end up costing you thousands of dollars.
Fortunately, if you notice a leak in your skylight, all is not lost. If you can address the problem quickly, before serious damage occurs, you can often prevent the worst from happening. Read on for more information about how to seal a skylight that is leaking:
How To Diagnose a Leaking Skylight
Just because you notice water dripping from your skylight does not mean it’s actually leaking. The issue is just as likely to be caused by condensation, which happens when warm, humid air comes in contact with much colder glass. Enough condensation can certainly lead to water droplets, which may lead you to believe your skylight has developed a leak, even though it hasn’t. So how can you be sure?
There are several parts of your skylight and the area around it that can fail and ultimately lead to a leak. Most of the time, the leak is the result of the skylight being improperly installed in the first place. When this happens, there can be gaps between the border of the skylight and the roof. These gaps may be imperceptible most of the time, but once the weather turns rainy or the snow starts to melt, they can allow water to drip into your home and cause catastrophic damage.
Your skylight is also surrounded by metal parts called flashing, which can become damaged and ultimately begin to leak. This damage can occur as a result of a single inclement weather incident, such as a particularly strong windstorm, or as a result of gradual corrosion over time. In either case, faulty flashing is another way that water can find its way in through your skylight.
To figure out if you have a leaky skylight, and to eliminate condensation as a contender, wait until it’s dry outside and spray the skylight with your garden hose. No need to be aggressive; a light spray of water should be enough to reveal the problem if there is one. Once you’ve sprayed the outside of the skylight, head inside and thoroughly inspect the area around it to see if any water has made its way into the home. If it has, you have a leak.
Fixing the Leak
It’s usually fairly easy to figure out how to seal a skylight that’s leaking, but note that most fixes that you can do yourself will prove to be temporary, especially if the leak is occurring as a result of improper installation. If the installation has been performed incorrectly in the first place, your best option is to get the best roofer you can find to redo the job. For example, if you live in the Portland/Vancouver area, you’ll want to give Interstate Roofing a call. They will be able to fix the problem in a much more permanent way than any temporary fix you can perform yourself.
While you are waiting on a professional roofer, however, there are a few fixes you can do yourself. If the problem is corroded flashing, for example, you can often plug the damaged areas with roofing cement. Roofing cement is an inexpensive material that you can purchase at any hardware store.
To use roofing cement to seal a hole in the flashing that surrounds your skylight, you will need to make sure the metal is clean and free of corrosion. You can use a wire brush to scrub away any existing rust. Then clean it with soap and water and allow it to dry. If the hole is small enough, you can plug it directly with roofing cement, without worrying about the need for a patch.
If the hole is larger than a pinhole, however, you can also use a metal patch made from the same material as the flashing itself. Note that this will still only work on a hole that’s up to about three-quarters of an inch. Any larger than that, and the flashing will simply need to be replaced.
If the Leak Persists
Roofing cement is a great material that can help slow or stop leaks much of the time, but sometimes, you’ll notice that the leaking persists despite your best efforts. There are several reasons why this might be the case. For example, it might be possible that there are multiple leaks and you’ve only addressed one of them.
It is common for the skylight seal (gasket between glass and frame) to have cracked from age and UV rays. It might also be possible that any further dripping is condensation. While condensation isn’t the same thing as a leak, it can still be a symptom of a larger problem. For example, Weep holes, built into your skylight to allow condensation to drain safely, can also become blocked, causing the condensing water to simply drip back into your home. Older skylights will oftentimes condense. f the problem is serious, you may have to ask your roofer to replace the skylight entirely.
If the leak doesn’t seem to be stopping despite your best efforts, it’s also possible that there’s a leak in the roof itself, in the area around the skylight. A leaky roof can be a symptom of a serious problem with the roof’s structure, and it means that you’ll need to get a roofer to inspect the area immediately. Contact the experts at Interstate Roofing and ask them to locate and repair any leaky areas.