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Skylights typically leak in one of two places: between the glass and the frame that holds the glass. Between the glass of a skylight and the frame that holds it is a sealant applied when the skylight is made.  This keeps water from leaking in between the two.  As the years go by the sealant ages shrinks, gets brittle, and loses adhesion.  Water will start seeping in.  RIBA Construction offers a variety of services, including skylight leak repair near Fairfax, Virginia.

These leaks typically show up near the glass and most often by the lower corners.  With older skylights, (even if drywall doesn’t looked stained when seen from ground level), if one were to examine the trim as seen from the roof side of the skylight, black or brown staining indicates a seeping leak.

An older skylight could be going strong for decades and is reused when a new roof is installed.  A few months later it starts leaking and the roofer tells you he did everything by the book.  Just the action of removing and resetting an old skylight can be the final straw for old brittle interior sealant, causing it to crack and let water through.  This is one reason why manufacturers recommend replacing 10-year and older skylights when the roof is replaced.

How to Repair a Skylight Leak

1.  Sealing the outside of the skylight along the glass/metal interface is a temporary option and can last 6 months to a couple of years.  Flex Seal is a good product for this.  The problem is that when the skylight starts to leak again, the leaks will be slow oozing leaks that don’t necessarily show up dramatically.  Over time though the wood structure of the roof can rot and mold develop inside the skylight or skylight shaft.  Still if one is a year away from replacing the roof, a temporary repair would buy time until the skylight can be replaced along with the roof

2.  The outer frame around the glass can be removed and sealant installed much like it was at the factory.  This work should only be done by an experienced technician.  The labor cost is about what the labor cost would be to replace the entire skylight, (not including the skylight itself).

3.  If the skylight is a curb-mounted model, the top portion of the skylight can be quickly and relatively easily replaced.  Think of taking the lid off of a shoebox and replacing it with a new lid.  This is a good solution when the skylight base is solid and well-flashed.

4.  Replacing the skylight.  Most of the older skylight sizes are still being made and while new Velux skylights are guaranteed to be leak-free for 10 years, the technology has advanced and one might expect these to last 20 or 30 years. RIBA Construction can help upgrade your skylight with new skylight leak repair near Fairfax, Virginia.

The Roof Itself is Leaking Above or Beside the Skylight

It can happen that the roof itself is leaking above or just to the side of the skylight.  Water runs down the slope over the underlayment below the shingles and comes through into the house when it hits the opening made by the skylight.  This is more common with older roofs and the leak itself has to be repaired.  Things to look for are nail pops through the shingles, vents, or chimneys upslope or closely adjacent to the skylight.  Missing shingles are a sure tipoff and might lead to an insurance claim.]

The third type of leak is through the flashings of the skylight.

1.  If your skylight is on a flat roof, one should consult with a good flat roof contractor.  Taking matters and a bucket of tar into one’s own hands can result in damaging the roof itself, depending on the material.  For example, EPDM, (rubber) is dissolved by common roofing tar.

2.  On pitched roofs it’s common for a roofer to make their own flashings around a skylight.  This saves about $100 a skylight.  Unfortunately, these site-made flashings, unless made with stainless steel or copper and soldered, depend on caulk at the corners to keep water out.  Caulking exposed to the elements begins to fail in 5 to 10 years depending on how well it was installed.  These caulking-related corner leaks show up in the corners lower down in the skylight shaft or in the ceiling below the corners or downslope from the skylight.  Scraping out the old caulk and replacing it is an option when the corners are exposed and otherwise functional.  In some cases, site site-made flashings have additional ad hoc cosmetic metal that interferes with reaching the corners to fix them.  Getting a good stick with new caulking to old metal can be a little dicey.  Polyurethane caulking such as OSI or Vulcum is recommended for this application.

Whether the flashings are homemade or the kit provided by the manufacturer, they need to be installed correctly.  Step flashings should align with the bottom of their perspective shingle course and the back pan flashing should dump water out on top of shingles and not in such a way that water gets under the roof.  Flashing kits are ideally installed without exposed nails but any exposed nails should be caulked.  Another common leak around skylights occurs when the caulking on an exposed nail wears out, the nail rusts, and a hole develops right through the roof.

The best course of action in these cases is to replace the flashings.  Since this is most of the labor in replacing a skylight, adding in the cost of buying the skylight the whole unit can be replaced. RIBA Construction offers a variety of services, including skylight leak repair near Fairfax, Virginia.

Skylight Leak Repair Near Fairfax VA

For projects big or small we have the crews to handle them. Five-star rated class A contractor that is licensed, bonded, and insured. We provide quality work at a good value. Ask today for a quote on your project! Contact RIBA Construction today to schedule your consultation.