Skylights utilize natural light to make your house brighter and more spacious. Unfortunately, they become a nuisance when they start leaking. Water seepage can replace the beauty and convenience of skylights with mold and rotting structures if not installed correctly.
Skylights can leak for reasons not limited to:
- Old or improper flashing
- Cracks on the skylight material
- Failure to close the skylight properly
- Condensation beneath the glass especially in humid rooms or cold climates
If you suspect your skylight to be leaky, you can inspect it from the ground or the attic. For troubleshooting, invite a qualified roofing expert for an inspection. They can tell if it’s time repair or reinstall your flashing or the entire skylight assembly.
Importance of Skylight Flashing
Flashing is a critical part of skylight installation. It secures the joints which receive most of the water to prevent seepage into the house. When done correctly, flashing directs water away from vulnerable areas into the gutters.
There are chances of water leakage into the building at joints or penetrations on your roof. Flashing is essential in maintaining the health of the roofing material, skylight, and the rest of the construction. There is no doubt water will work its way through the skylight joints at some point without proper flashing.
Flashing gives homeowners the confidence of non-leaking, watertight skylights. The damage which results from water seepage may be noticeable immediately, or it could take time to manifest. It can cause expensive structural issues such as rotting, corrosion, and rust.
For this reason, it’s vital for a professional roofing technician to secure your skylight with high-quality flashing. Proper maintenance can also reduce the chance of water leaks over the years significantly.
Materials for Flashing
The durability of flashing depends on the quality of the material used and the skill level of the contractor, among other reasons. Traditional flashing techniques were labor-intensive and time-consuming.
Some of the materials builders utilized include birch bark and mortar. Sometimes shingles would be angled away from joints to minimize the chance of water penetration.
Today, there are many excellent flashing materials which produce superior sealing and are easier to use. Examples include sheet metal, plastic, and rubber.
With the introduction of sheet metal, lead became a useful material for flashing. It remains in use in some applications despite the health hazards associated with it.
It manifests extreme durability, remaining intact in roofs as old as 500 years. For this reason, lead is an ideal material for use on sections which are difficult to access. It minimizes the need for repair or replacement in such areas.
Besides lead, copper is another durable metal suitable for flashing projects. It is ideal for classy homes and historic buildings.
The most common sheet metals for roof and skylight flashing are alloys of zinc, aluminum, and steel. They are inexpensive, readily available, and suited for the job.
Rubber and Plastic
Other options, though uncommon in modern construction, are rubber and plastic. They are cheap to install, but they quickly degrade in the sun. The materials may be suitable for flashing temporary skylights.
When to Replace Skylight Flashing
One instance which calls for the replacement or repair of flashing is when you need to install a new skylight. The main reason for replacing a skylight is when the glass or plastic breaks or becomes brittle. If there is evidence of water seepage, reinstalling the skylight is inevitable.
You almost always need to reinstall flashing when replacing your skylight, or even just the shingles surrounding your skylight. Most manufacturers recommend specific flashing products for their skylights.
Poor artistry like wrong nailing of flashing is a good reason for water leaks. An amateur may also fail to step the flashing into new shingles, leaving some gaps. A qualified roofing specialist will do step flashing to merge your skylight with other roofing materials seamlessly.
Can You Reuse Old Flashing?
Most flashing experts do not recommend reusing old flashing material because the nails won’t always go back to the original holes. However, a roofing professional can inspect the installation and decide whether your flashing is reusable or repairable. Some considerations for the decision may include:
- The age of the flashing
- The condition of the material
- Whether the previous installation was correct
- Number of repairs or cycles of reuse
The only way to have quality flashing is asking a professional to install a new one. It should happen when mounting the skylight or replacing the adjacent roofing material.
Skylights need a tight seal with the roof. Proper flashing requires installing a continuous piece of sheet metal on both sides of the skylight. For a watertight assembly, rubber gaskets beneath the flashing can further secure the setup.
It’s vital to inspect your skylight from the ground or the attic periodically. If you find signs of leakage or water damage, contact Echols Roofing for a lasting solution.