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Repair vs Replacing a Skylight: What Should You Do and Why

While it’s not a common occurrence, skylights do fail. Flashing around the outside can come loose, seals can dry rot, and glass can break. At the end of the day, a skylight is a plugged hole in your roof that faces all sorts of weather issues. The biggest question we get is often, “What are the pros and cons of replacing vs repairing a leaking skylight?” Most roofing companies will not repair skylights they install, let alone ones that they didn’t. There are obviously pros and cons to both situations, especially as a DIY homeowner. Our suggestion is to hire a professional who knows what to look for and how to cure problems; however, steps can be taken to determine the best action.

Step 1 – Determine where the skylight is leaking

This may sound like a silly step, but it is important to determine the best course of action going forward. Stains in the ceiling around the skylight indicate that the outer area, or flashing has failed. Contrasting that, water around the glass suggests that the seals around the glass itself are the culprit. Finally, cracked glass is often obvious to the untrained eye. These are the three most common failure areas.

Step 2 – Determine how bad the failure is

Once the failed area has been determined, the most important step is to figure out how bad the issue is. This step is the key determining factor as to the ability to repair or the need to replace your skylight. Small seal failures react well to caulking or silicone, while rotten boards causing flashing to fail indicate that more than a simple replacement is required.

Step 3 – Begin your repair or replacement

There is plenty of information around that shows how to properly repair leaking skylights. This is aimed at the DIY homeowner. One thing to keep in mind is that any attempt to alter a skylight will immediately negate any warranty that is in effect. It goes without saying that a warranty issue should always be handled by a licensed professional. If ease of repair lends itself to your DIY skills then a small job should be all it takes to ensure a dry household. If the repair job is more involved than your skillset, it is smart to contact a professional. While most will not handle repairs, they will be identify issues and offer suggestions at the least. If a replacement is the route chosen, you can sleep well knowing that your new skylight is covered under warranty for years to come.

As a note, for the most part, all repairs are temporary fixes. If the skylight itself has failed, there is often a reason for it. This means that it will happen again, with each time often necessitating a more extensive repair. While it is possible to repair skylights, a majority of the time it is even more wise to save time and money and just have the skylight replaced.

Ranch Roofing is a leading full-service roofing contractor serving the greater Boston area. Founded in 1996, Ranch specializes in residential, commercial, and rubber roofing solutions near our hometown of Arlington, MA.

By Matt Daigle

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