Skylight Replacement: Everything You Need To Know as a Baltimore Homeowner


Skylight Replacement: Everything You Need to Know as a Baltimore Homeowner

Skylights – man, the team at Four Twelve gets a lot of questions on skylights and skylight replacement. What are my options? When do I know it’s the right time to replace my skylight? How do I know if it was installed properly or not? To help you get a better understanding Let’s start with the basics. What are the different types of skylights available to YOU as a homeowner in Baltimore? And how do you know it’s time for a skylight replacement? 

Velux VS. Pyramids

When opting to install or replace a skylight, it boils down to two options: a Velux skylight or a pyramid skylight.

A pyramid skylight installed by Four Twelve.
A pyramid skylight installed by Four Twelve in Charles Village on 2/5/19

So, Velux skylights are the modern, highly insulated, flat skylights available for flat roofs as well as shingle roofs. If you want a skylight that has higher insulative properties and a more modern look, this is an option for you. Additionally, Velux offers a special product called “solar skylights” which are remote operated, solar powered skylight option that comes with a 30% energy tax credit.

Meanwhile, Pyramid skylights are the historic, galvanized skylights available for flat roof home homeowners across Baltimore. These come in custom length and width sizes and have options for ventilated or unventilated. People love the ventilated option for creating airflow in and out of the top floor of your home to craft a more comfortable, better-circulated living environment.

When Is It Time for a Skylight Replacement?

There are several attributes of your skylights that may signal it’s time to consider a skylight replacement. Hesitating to replace your skylight can result in damage to the interior of your home, so it’s important to stay vigilant when looking for signs of damage.

Covered Weep Holes

an image of weep holes covered by a previous roofing contractor Four Twelve found upon roof inspection.
Weep holes covered by a previous roofing contractor Four Twelve found upon roof inspection.

Covered weep holes are one of the most common issues we see working in Baltimore City on pyramid skylights. This is often the result of other roofing contractors performing roof repairs, and in the process cover up the weep holes on the side of the skylight mount. One of the key functionalities of a pyramid skylight is the ability to shed water through weep holes at the base of the glass panes where it connects to the galvanized mount. Two things we see that signifies it’s time for a skylight replacement are when roof repairers have sealed up these weep holes with either a strip of membrane or roof cement. These weep holes must be opened in order for the skylight to perform properly.

Cracked Glass

A pyramid skylight with cracked glass found during a skylight replacement.
A pyramid skylight with cracked glass in Charles Village.

Another instance, which may seem obvious, is if your skylight has cracked glass, which is visible from the inside of your home. When these panes are cracked, the skylight becomes a vulnerability and the potential for water intrusion is high, leading to potential paint and drywall repairs down the line.

Rusting Metal

Another sign that your skylight is at the end of its life span is when the galvanized metal has corroded across the structure of your skylight. As a homeowner, one sign you can look for is orange or brown streaks coming down the glass panes of your skylight. Often times when we see this, it means that the galvanized metal of the skylight is disintegrating, and exposing itself to you as the homeowner from the inside. Most times when we see this from the inside and get up on the roof,  we discover that the protective metal structure has begun to flake and deteriorate. 

At Time of Roof Replacement

We also recommend a skylight replacement at the same time of a roof replacement. Often times, if your skylight is old or in disrepair, there is not much sense in keeping it in conjunction with a new roof. Additionally, there are savings in replacing your skylight at the same time as your roof. Once the construction team is at your property, the fixed cost of getting a team out to the site to replace the skylight is significantly lower. This is why we recommend rolling it up into the same project. On top of that, the flashing for your skylight is highly interconnected with the roof install, and ensuring that these are done in conjunction often leads to fewer leaks and less maintenance over the longevity of your roof system.

How Is a Skylight Properly Installed?

Skylights must rest upon a built-in wooden box connected to your roof decking. Often times, we do this with a 2×4 or 2×6 construction. After the box is in place, we will run our roofing underlayment up and over the box system to properly flash the opening. After that, the skylight is ready to be set on top of the box system. Once in place, the skylight will either be mechanically attached with screws or sealed in place with a weatherstripping system that is part of the installation kit.

A protective cricket built during a skylight replacement.
A protective cricket built against a new skylight installation by Four Twelve.

Another detail that Four Twelve folds into its skylight construction process is building a cricket (a water diversion system), on the uphill side of the skylight. We’ve found this detail to be incredibly important for the proper performance of your skylight system. Crickets allow for water to shed effectively downhill and around your skylight, minimizing the possibility of leakage over the lifetime of the skylight system.

Let Four Twelve Help You With Your Skylight Replacement

As roofing contractors in Baltimore, Four Twelve has seen just about every type of skylight damage there is. From cracked glass to covered weep holes, our team has the trained eyes to quickly assess and diagnose the issues plaguing your skylights. Whether you’re curious about a new installation, or simply need help figuring why there’s water leaking in from your skylight, let the team at Four Twelve assist you. Contact us today.

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