The Pros & Cons of Skylights: Everything You Need To Know About Skylight Maintenance

The Pros & Cons of Skylights: Everything You Need To Know About Skylight Maintenance

At Elite we’ve worked on thousands of roofing projects that combine roof membrane and insulation, HVAC equipment, and of course, skylights. Skylights are an appealing aesthetic choice for industrial and residential spaces. They provide natural light and help any structure feel more open. However, anytime there is a skylight on the roof of a structure, it means that there is a hole in the roof that is covered by what is essentially a sealed window.

While they undoubtedly look beautiful, skylights come with their own set of maintenance issues and installation cautionary tales. If you either have existing skylights or are looking to purchase a home or a building that has skylights installed, consider these things before forging ahead.

We’ve partnered up with Marco Ferrazzo at Artistic Skylight to give you our combined expertise! Here is everything you should know in order to keep your skylight in tip-top shape!

Pay Attention To Condensation:

Condensation may look like a leak coming from the seals of the skylight, but humidity inside your home or building may actually be causing condensation to occur. High humidity environments are generally not ideal for skylight installation, so this is also something to consider.

Reasons Condensation May Be Occurring: 

  • Temperature differences: Colder outside temperatures require lower interior humidity levels. If the interior is too humid, then excessive moisture could build up on the interior lenses of the skylight. Think about the way that your shower fogs up when there is too much humidity, the same principle applies to skylights. The best way to combat this is to try and reduce the humidity that occurs in your home (items like vaporizers, for instance, can cause excessive condensation).
  • Single glass panels: single acrylic domes or single glass panels do not have the air/gas separation barrier that is present in either double domes or insulated glass units.  The air space provides separation between the exterior and interior environments which could make it a better choice for structures where condensation is a concern.

 Skylight Maintenance

Before Skylight Replacement

 Skylight Maintenance

After Skylight Replacement

Don’t Cut Corners On Installation or Skylight Maintenance:

Skylights that are not properly installed can cause a whole host of issues. If proper waterproofing materials and installation techniques are not used, the seal between your roofing system and the skylight could be compromised, causing expensive damage to your structure. When it comes to skylights, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Be mindful of these items during installation to ensure that your skylight performs as intended:

a. Use a suitable vapour barrier such as ice and water shield type membrane on pitched roofs.

b. Ensure compatible waterproofing membranes on flat roofs.

c. Size the skylight appropriately to ensure proper fit.

d. Verify site measurements with the skylight supplier before signing off on shop drawings.

e. Build the skylight curb to the appropriate height and rough opening size. The skylight should be at or above the recommended minimum height above the top of the roof membrane.

f. Ensure that there is a proper number of fasteners to secure the skylight to the curb ( we recommend 1 fastener per each 12” of curb perimeter).

It can be difficult to know if your skylight is being installed correctly, which is why it is so important to have an installer that offers an extended warranty on your skylight to cover any incidental issues. Choose a technician that has ample experience installing skylights, and remember that the larger the skylight, the more complex the installation.

Noise & Wind Issues Are Signs Of A Problem: 

Contrary to what some may believe, there should never be any whistling, howling, or excessive noise coming through a skylight. If you currently have a skylight and are noticing whistling or any kind of noise near the skylight, it’s almost certainly a sign that there is a gap between the top of the curb and the underside of the skylight. This can be remedied by sealing the gap with an appropriate one-sided gasket tape. If this is an issue you’re experiencing, don’t ignore it. Sounds may be the beginning, but eventually this kind of gap could lead to leaks that could damage your roofing structure.  In addition, if there is an air gap then you have the risk of drifting snow getting inside the premises from the skylight.

Normal Wear & Tear – Skylight Maintenance: 

Even when a skylight is installed perfectly, it does require a little bit more maintenance than a regular roofing system. Some of the issues you may encounter are:
Spider or hairline cracks in the acrylic skylight domes caused by prolonged exposure to the sun.
Failure in the glazing seals that results in condensation issues between the skylight domes, causing a cloudy or foggy appearance.
Accelerated deterioration based on your roofing structure (pitched roofs, pyramid, gable, or barrel-vaulted units with a south-facing exposure tend to exhibit this).

The good news is, all of these issues can be easily mitigated with regular maintenance. We recommend inspecting your skylight once per year, which can nip most of these issues in the bud. However, it is important to note that skylights, even when maintained perfectly, do not last forever. That’s why it’s important to choose a company with a robust warranty. Artistic Skylight warranties the seals on their skylight units for up to ten years, so that you can rest easy and let the light shine in.

Do you have more questions about skylights or roofing in general? Give us a call, or chat with us during working hours! We’re here to help.