How Not to Fix a Skylight

What to Avoid in Repairing Your Skylight

Do not apply tar or mastic-type materials to your skylight or flashing. It might seem like a good idea for its low costs. But this is one situation where you get what you pay for.

The roofer has various types of products (tar or other mastic material) that he paints on the exterior of the skylight frame and flashing.

ugly tar flashing

Unfortunately  the repairs typically don’t work, or at best don’t work for long. And a skylight that has tar all over it is only more expensive and difficult to properly fix.

The most common occurrence of tarring skylights happens when a replacing a roof and the skylight leaks afterwards. A call is made to the roofer, who did not put money into the bid to flash or replace your skylight, and does not want to put money into it now. It’s cheapest for them to tar the skylight. We even get reports of homeowners not being able to reach the roofing company after that.

The Worst Type of Skylight Repair

The roofer has various types of products (tar or other mastic material) that he paints on the exterior of the skylight frame and flashing. Tar is very waterproof, and a thick sticky substance, so coating everything should keep the water out. While it initially can, it quickly fails and starts leaking again. Water and gravity always find a way.

This is why skylight manufactures don’t make skylights water tight, they just give the water some place to go (down to your roof, and then to your gutters). Even your roof work the same way. When you tar a skylight, you block these drainage methods and the water fills up until it finds another path, right into your home. Think of clogged gutters, which are never a good thing for your home.

This method of repair is common but future repairs are impossible without removing the frame and throwing it away. Finding replacement parts is often difficult, either the manufacturer is out of business or the manufacturer is no longer making that particular skylight and the frame is no longer available.

Tar repairs also prevent the acrylic to expand and contract from heat causing cracks. This requires replacing with an all new acrylic dome set, all new extrusions and fasteners. Which ends up making it cheaper to replace the skylight than repair it.

What to Do Instead

skylight installation rough in

Our recommendation is to hire an experienced skylight repair technician that knows how to evaluate all the problems. They will know how to give the owners choices in different types of repairs and the expected life-span of the repairs. If you don’t have one in your area, give us a call. We’ll give you a free phone consultation and will even give you some suggestions about what type of repair might be best for you, if you send us some digital pictures. We are also capable of coming to your location for evaluations and/or repairs.

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