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The Common Causes of Skylight Leaks and How to Address Them

Skylights are a wonderful addition to any home, bringing in natural light and enhancing the overall ambiance of a room. However, they can also be a source of frustration if they develop leaks. Dealing with a leaking skylight is a common issue faced by homeowners, and understanding the reasons behind these leaks can help prevent and resolve them effectively.

Common Causes of Skylight Leaks

One of the primary reasons skylights leak is improper installation or faulty flashing. Skylights are essentially roof penetrations, and if not installed correctly or if the flashing around them is compromised, water can seep through.

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Flashing is crucial as it creates a watertight seal between the skylight and the roofing material, directing water away from the opening.

Another factor contributing to leaks is the pitch of the roof. For skylights installed on shingle roofs, the roof pitch should ideally be 3:12 or greater. This pitch allows water to drain properly and reduces the risk of water pooling around the skylight, which can lead to leaks over time. On flat roofs or roofs with pitches below 3:12, a different flashing system is necessary to accommodate the different drainage requirements.

Addressing Skylight Leaks

If you notice water stains or dripping around your skylight, it’s essential to address the issue promptly to prevent further damage to your home’s interior and the skylight itself. Here are steps you can take to address skylight leaks:

Inspect the Flashing

Begin by inspecting the flashing around the skylight. Look for any signs of deterioration, gaps, or cracks where water could penetrate. Properly installed and intact flashing is critical to preventing leaks.

Check for Condensation

Sometimes, what appears to be a leak could actually be condensation forming on the inside of the skylight during temperature fluctuations. Ensure that the skylight is properly ventilated to reduce condensation buildup.

Clear Debris

Debris, such as leaves, branches, or dirt, can accumulate around the skylight and block drainage channels. Regularly clean the area around the skylight to prevent blockages that could lead to leaks.

Repair or Replace

If you identify issues with the flashing or other components of the skylight that are causing leaks, consider repairing or replacing them. Consult with a professional roofer or skylight installer to ensure that the repairs are done correctly.

Consider Skylight Design

When installing or replacing skylights, consider the design and placement carefully. Skylights with proper slope and well-designed flashing systems are less likely to develop leaks. Pitched rooflights, specifically designed for your roof’s pitch, ensure optimal water shedding and reduce the risk of leaks over time. Discuss your options with a qualified contractor to choose skylights that are suitable for your roof type and pitch.

Monitor Interior Seals

Regularly inspect the interior seals around the skylight frame for any signs of deterioration or gaps. Maintaining these seals can help prevent water from seeping into your home during heavy rain or snow.

Preventative Measures

Preventing skylight leaks starts with proper installation and maintenance. Here are some preventative measures to keep in mind:

Professional Installation

Ensure that skylights are installed by experienced professionals who understand the intricacies of flashing and roof integration.

Regular Inspections

Conduct regular inspections of your skylights and roof to catch potential issues early. Look for signs of wear and tear on the flashing and roof around the skylight.


Keep the area around the skylight clean and free of debris. Trim overhanging branches that could damage the skylight or block drainage paths.


Proper ventilation around skylights can help reduce moisture buildup and condensation, which can contribute to leaks.

Prompt Repairs

Address any signs of leaks promptly. Ignoring small leaks can lead to more significant issues and costly repairs down the line.

Monitor Surrounding Roof Areas

Regularly inspect the general condition of the roof surrounding the skylight. Look for cracked or missing shingles, damaged flashing, or any other potential sources of water intrusion.

Check Interior Seals

Inspect the interior seals around the skylight frame for any signs of deterioration or gaps. Maintaining these seals can help prevent water from seeping into your home during heavy rain or snow.

In Closing

Skylights can enhance the beauty and functionality of your home, but dealing with leaks can be frustrating and costly. Understanding the common causes of skylight leaks, such as improper installation or compromised flashing, is crucial to preventing and addressing these issues effectively. By following proper installation practices, conducting regular inspections, and addressing any issues promptly, you can enjoy the benefits of natural light without the worry of leaks compromising your home’s interior.

If you’re unsure about the condition of your skylights or need assistance with repairs, don’t hesitate to consult with a qualified roofing professional for expert advice and assistance.


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