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Skylights | Roof Leak

Do Skylights Always Leak?

February 3rd, 2023 | 5 min. read

Do Skylights Always Leak?

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Adding a skylight to your home is the perfect way to bring more natural light into your home. But as you’re doing research, you’ve probably heard they always leak.

Unfortunately, this stops most people from considering a skylight. I will say skylights have had a bad reputation for leaking for a long time

But is it really true? 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided homeowners with transparent information so they can make the best decisions. Because of this, I want to give the honest answer of whether or not skylights always leak.

I’ll start this article by diving right in and answering the big question. After that, I’ll break down the 3 main reasons why skylights leak. 

Do skylights always leak?

No, skylights do not always leak. This is a huge misconception that homeowners have when considering adding a skylight to their home. 

While skylights have the potential to leak just like every other roof penetration, it’s simply not true that every single skylight leaks. Most skylight leaks are actually caused by improper installation or waiting too long for a replacement (more on this in a minute).

In fact, the leading skylight brand Velux offers a 10-year no-leak guarantee. They wouldn’t be the leading skylight brand or stand behind their products if they always leaked.

3 reasons why homeowners experience skylight leaks

As I said, skylights do have the potential to leak like every other penetration on your roof. But there are 3 main reasons why homeowners experience a skylight leak. 

Let’s break down how improper installation, the need for a replacement, and defective skylights can lead to leaks. 

1. The installer didn’t follow the installation instructions

As I said earlier, most skylight leaks are caused by improper installation. As long as your roofing contractor or installers follow the manufacturer’s installation instructions exactly, your skylight won’t leak for the life of materials (possibly up to 20 years). 

leak around a skylight(Leak around skylight)

If you experience no leaks during the first rain after the skylight was installed, you’ll know the installation was done properly. On the other hand, I guarantee you’ll have a leaking skylight if the instructions weren’t followed. 

This makes hiring a roofing contractor with a history of proper installation crucial to your skylight investment. If you don’t know how to find one, look at Google reviews, ask people on Nextdoor, and even ask potential roofing contractors for references to see past work.

You can also check out VELUX’s website to see certified contractors they trust to install their products correctly. 

2. The skylight needs to be replaced

After improper installation, waiting too long to replace a skylight is the second most common reason a skylight leaks. The materials that keep a skylight leak-free aren’t meant to hold up forever. 

So, a skylight will eventually leak if you wait too long to replace it. Replacing your skylight at the right time is the easiest way to save you from a costly leak. 

For example, VELUX offers a 10-year no-leak guarantee. This doesn't mean the skylight needs to be replaced once it reaches that 10-year mark. 

But if your skylight is around 20 years old, it’s just a matter of time before the materials fail and a leak shows up. However, I understand that it’s hard to know when to replace a skylight if you haven’t had to before. 

skylight installation(Skylight installation during roof replacement)

That’s why I recommend replacing your aging skylights during a roof replacement. This ensures the roof and skylight are aging at the same rate to make replacing them easier in the future. 

3. The skylight is defective

Our last reason is the most uncommon, but it still does happen. The last reason a skylight leaks is due to manufacturer defects. 

Obviously, this happens during the manufacturing process. It could be a problem with the seal, flashing kit, framing, glass, or something else. 

No matter the cause, you’ll have to reach out to the manufacturer to get a replacement if your skylight is found to be defective. Unfortunately, your roofing contractor can't exactly fix this problem like the other two reasons. 

But they can document the defect and give you an explanation to pass on to the manufacturer. As long as the skylight is truly defective and wasn’t damaged or improperly installed, manufacturers should have no problem sending a replacement. 

What else do you need to know about getting a skylight?

Now you know the 3 main reasons why a skylight would be leaking. No matter the reason, a leaking skylight needs to be taken care of as soon as possible to avoid further damage. 

Hopefully, after reading this article, you feel better about moving forward with a potential skylight project. But before actually starting the process, you need to know a few more things about getting a skylight to truly feel good about your decision.

That’s why I wrote another article breaking down the 6 things every homeowner needs to know about getting a skylight. 

Since 1990, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has provided high-quality skylight services to thousands of homeowners in Nashville and surrounding Middle Tennessee areas. That’s why VELUX certified us to install their products. 

Check out 6 Things You Need to Know About Getting a Skylight to learn what else you need to know before diving into a skylight project.

roofing contractor questions checklist

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