The Problems with Skylights

skylightsAre you considering purchasing a home with skylights or planning on installing them in your existing home? Although they can be beautiful and let in natural light, there are potential problems with skylights that you ought to be aware of.

Modern skylights are manufactured, sized and installed better than ever before, thus minimizing many of the problems of skylights in years past. However, they still create a weak point in your home’s exterior. Here are some of the problems most common with skylights and some tips on how to prevent issues from occurring.

Water Leakage

Wear and tear after years of rain, snow and temperature changes can lead to water leakage around a skylight. Rubber gaskets, seals and sealants, adhesives and flashing can also age under weather conditions and potentially fail, causing water leaks. Proper installation and flashing are critical to preventing water problems. Reflashing and resealing may help solve a water leak.

Condensation

Condensation can naturally occur with a variance between outside and inside temperatures, and is one of the most common problems with skylights. It can also occur from moisture inside the home. Vapor condensation should not be ignored, as it can lead to mold buildup. The use of a ventilating system should help. When installing new skylights, choose energy-efficient models. Pay special attention to the insulation and sealing on the skylight’s underside. There should be enough insulation and roofing felt between the skylight frame and the opening to prevent moist air flow from inside the room from saturating the flashing or cladding undersides and condensing to drip back into the room below. Bathrooms are particularly known for humid conditions and are not the best rooms in which to add a skylight.

Related: US Department of Energy, Energy Saver Design Report on Skylights

Drainage Issues

Since skylights are on the roof and not easily accessible, they can become subject to an accumulation of leaves, snow or debris that can block normal drainage routes, condensation channels and weep holes from rain and snow runoff. Perform regular inspections of the flashing and cladding, and clear skylights of accumulations.

Fading

Skylights can allow in up to 3x the amount of light that comes from your side windows. This can cause fading of furniture, bedding, carpets and floors. Choose skylight models that come with light-filtering retractable blinds to help regulate the amount of light entering your home.

Ice Dams

Roof ventilation is especially important to a healthy home, and one of the problems with skylights is that they can allow heat loss through to the roof that causes snow to melt and refreeze, thus creating an ice dam.

Related: Skylights Pros and Cons: Are They Worth the Money?

Heat Loss and Overheating

Be careful how you position your skylight, especially if it will be on a sunny side of your home. Because it allows in so much light, it can add to interior heat (which can help heat the home during winter months). Conversely, a skylight can also allow heat to escape from your home in colder months. Choose an energy-efficient, insulated skylight, and consider using skylight covers to help control heat. Look at the solar heat gain coefficient number (SHGC). The lower numbers mean that the skylight will block more solar heat from entering.

Problems with Skylights? Call Först Consulting Group.

When you are experiencing problems with skylights, need a skylight inspection, or want to know more about construction practices with skylights, contact Först Consulting Group. One of our specific services is home inspections. We can provide building pathology inspections to look for building defects such as skylight failures, and construction error inspections that prove faulty building practices to help support your claim against your contractor. We also offer associated remedies for remediation and repair, along with associated costs.

As construction experts, Först Consulting Group offers a variety of services for construction defect investigations, litigation support and expert testimony. Contact Först today.

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