How to fix a Skylight leak

bigdtcApril 13, 2009

Last week when Dallas area was having 60 mile an hour winds, I walked into my kitchen and noticed a lovely cool breeze - upon looking up, realized there was a tiny gap of daylight at the bottom of my skylight in the ceiling. It is probably no more than 1/8", but is even across the bottom of the skylight. In all fairness, it probably has been there at least a year, but the winds don't often blow the right direction to notice. I was hoping I could screw up my courage, hop on my 8ft ladder with caulking gun in hand and silicone that slice, but had a coworker tell me I need to do it from the outside so water doesn't pool. Any advice is welcome, I will need even more courage to get on the roof, so want it done right the first time....even if it means hiring a professional -


Terry, decidedly non-handy home repairperson

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What kind of skylight? How is it flashed? What is the roof slope and roofing material?

The flashing at the bottom of the skylight may be separate or integral with the skylight frame and it has probably been lifted by gusts of wind. Depending on how it is made you might be able to push it down onto the roofing after putting a bead of sealant under it. Nailing it in place might cause trouble so be cautious about doing that. If the roof slope is low you should call a roofer.

    Bookmark   April 13, 2009 at 5:29PM
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Hmmm, that alone convinced me I might need to leave this to a professional. But I may get on the roof and take a look first. It is a square window skylight. The roofing material is asphalt shingle. The slope is a 45 degree angle? I know that isnt the proper measurement, just a visual judge. It is probably flashing, now that I know what to look for, I will take a look and make a judgement call. Thanks for educating me into what is involved.


    Bookmark   April 14, 2009 at 4:05PM
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A properly flashed skylight in a steep sloped roof would have self-adhering flexible flashing (Ice & Water Shield) sealing the skylight frame to the roof sheathing and then metal flashing would cover that. The metal flashing would be installed in pieces or "steps" along the sides between each shingle. Unfortunately, these features are often not included.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2009 at 7:32AM
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I agree flashing would be a better option (as in problem solved, and not just a temp fix).
best of luck..

    Bookmark   April 17, 2009 at 7:50PM
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I feel the need to vent, and your post will let me do it constructively :)

I had a leaking skylight 2 years after a total roof replacement, and two "professionals" were unable to repair it after multiple attempts. One was recommended by a sibling, and the other had done roofing jobs in the past that had withstood the test of time. I finally had enough, went on the roof with a hose, pinpointed the entry point and made the repair. Now I can finally repair the 4x4 foot hole in my drywall ceiling that's been there for four months.

Whether you hire a professional or DIY, I wish you the best of luck.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2009 at 1:34PM
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My uncle is a roofer and he has told me numerous stories of having to fix a "handyman's" patch job that consisted of sealant or roof tar. So i would suggest replacing the flashing and any tar paper or roofing that needs to be...but probably just flashing? if you decide to hire a professional make sure its NOT a handyman and IS a roofer. A handyman can do many jobs poorly and a sub-contractor can do 1-2 jobs very well!

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 2:29AM
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"A handyman can do many jobs poorly and a sub-contractor can do 1-2 jobs very well".

Depends on the handyman. A true handyman is well versed in many trades but like most "pros" these days, they are getting hard to find. With the current influx of job layoffs, some will "become" a handyman and unfortunately will lack experience and keep the bad rap of handyman in check. Hiring a handyman is no different than hiring any other. You check out their work, check out references, make sure they are covered by all the leagalities such as insurance, etc.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 11:03AM
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I have to disagree although I know it's pointless to continue to make generalizations. In my experience, few residential roofers or handymen understand how to flash a skylight properly so it is necessary to provide complete specifications and supervise the work regardless of who does it. The biggest problem with hiring a handyman is that he probably doesn't have adequate insurance or a home improvement contractor license and is far more likely to fall off of the roof.

It takes a lot of skill and experience to even do a bad job on a roof which is a fact I demonstrated on many occasions in my youth.

    Bookmark   April 23, 2009 at 11:33AM
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