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Aerial view of brand new slate roof replacement and new skylight installation by Shake Guys

Do I Need My Skylights Replaced When Getting a New Roof?

Skylights can be found on just about every other home in the median price range on up. They’re obviously a functional way to save money, and they nourish the brain by ushering in real sun rays.

Like all parts of a home, skylights have lifespans, but there is one instance that may disrupt the tenure of a skylight: roof replacement. So should you replace skylights along with your roof? Or does it stand a chance at survival?

Roofers, handymen, DIY warriors, and homeowners often chime in with conflicting answers like:

  • Your skylights will be fine.
  • Just add extra caulking around the skylights.
  • You’ll need new flashing around the skylights.
  • Always replace skylights when installing a new roof.
  • Only replace certain types of skylights like the bubble kind.

We put together a reliable short answer, but go ahead and reach out to the cedar roofing experts, Shake Guys, for more information and advice.

Always Get Skylights Replaced When Getting a Roof Installed!

Closeup of older roof in need of replacement and skylight.

We can’t stress this enough! A roof replacement is a big deal. The tear-off phase is certainly going to disturb your skylights. There are no kitten gloves that can stop this. Even the best and newest skylights stand a large statistical chance of being compromised. Wood frame, bubble and plastic panes, and skylights that open are extremely likely to fail within a year of a roof installation.

Be sure to get an expert roof inspection and report that provide details of your skylights.
Call us for a FREE EVALUATION – 847.272.2278

What Goes Wrong with Skylights?

There are several seal points that can be disturbed enough to let moisture in. As always, once moisture gets a foothold, it begins to do one of several things:

  1. Leaking – Water immediately finds the quickest route in. This is a physical leak that one can observe dripping. A busted seal can be impossible to detect while a roof is replaced. If the problem is small, it will lead to another issue.
  2. Warping of moistened material – In conjunction with hot and cold temperatures creating swelling, the area affected grows over time. Typically, within a year of your roof replacement, this warping will lead to water staining the ceiling as well as the possibility of actual leaking.
  3. Rotting – Should rot, lichens or mold find a foothold, the rate at which the affected area swells can be intensified, and leaking will surely occur within 18 months.

Why Don’t New Caulking and New Flashing Help?

There are too many points that could have been blown below these top most protective points. These first defenses do fine with vents and chimneys but tend to do a poor job securing a skylight for long due to the nature of the skylight being a large, semi-flush, and heavy port in a roof.

Is There Any Circumstance in Which a Skylight Can Survive a New Roof?

Family decides to replace skylight along with roof.

Obviously, there is always a chance any skylight can make it through a tear-off, but there is only one scenario in which there’s a fighting chance that a skylight will make it. If the skylight meets these points, we’d give it a better than 60 percent chance of survival:

  • The house was designed and built with it.
  • It is static (non-opening).
  • It is a top brand.
  • There is now wood used in its construction and boxing.
  • The pains are glass.
  • It is no more than 10 years old.

How many times have we seen this scenario? Pretty much never as most roofs are over 12 years old by the time they need replacing.

Who’s at Fault for a Leaky Skylight That Isn’t Replaced After a Roof Installation?

Any good roofer will insist that homeowners have their skylights replaced no matter what. A top roofer will not make it mandatory, but they will outline the seriousness of the situation. Ultimately, homeowners are responsible for their skylights, but a solid roofing contractor will always inspect the area if called on to do so.

At Shake Guys, we routinely get calls about a skylight issue about a year after a roof install. It’s on us to take a look and evaluate the situation. Depending on the nature of the damage, we will repair the issue, typically for a fee, or recommend a skylight company to repair or replace the skylights.

Closeup of metal roof replacement and new skylight installation.

How to Maintain Your Skylight

Maintaining skylights is essential to ensure they continue to provide natural light, ventilation, and a pleasant ambiance to your home. Proper maintenance can help extend their lifespan and keep them in good working condition. Here are some steps for maintaining skylights:

Regular Cleaning: Clean the skylight’s glass or plastic surface regularly to remove dirt, dust, and debris. Use a soft, non-abrasive cloth or sponge, mild soapy water, and a glass cleaner if necessary. Avoid using abrasive materials that can scratch the surface

Inspect Seals and Gaskets: Check the seals and gaskets around the skylight frame for cracks or signs of deterioration. If you notice any issues, have them repaired promptly to prevent leaks.

Clear Debris: Clear leaves, twigs, and other debris from around the skylight’s exterior. Make sure that the drainage channels or weep holes are not clogged. Proper drainage prevents water from pooling and leaking into your home.

Inspect Flashing: Examine the flashing, which is the metal or other material that surrounds the skylight and provides a waterproof barrier. Ensure it’s intact and properly sealed. Any damage or deterioration should be repaired or replaced.

A Skylight That Fails a Year After a Roof Is Installed Creates Another Problem!

It may cost a bit less to have a skylight installed during a roof replacement because it’s easier to put it in while the decking is bare. If this isn’t done and leaking ensues a year later, there is going to be a big problem. It won’t be the cost or the hassle, but the fact that now your roofing system will need to be disturbed to repair or install new skylights. Just as the skylights were compromised, now too will your roof face similar issues with blown seals.

Don’t risk your property, wallet and sanity — get your skylights replaced when getting a new roof!

Contact the professionals at Shake Guys for a free inspection.

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