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Cleaning and Repairing a Skylight: How to Maintain your Skylight
Modern skylights are a great way to bring natural light into your home. They can improve its aesthetic appeal and help you to;
- Light up dark spaces like closets or basements
- Improve ventilation and release foul odors by letting in fresh air
- Reduce energy costs by supplementing electricity lighting
- Prevent the growth of mold and fungus by releasing excess humidity
- Better the health of your family by exposing them to sunrays
- Improve visual comfort in the home, especially for the elderly and others with eyesight problems
- Give you a beautiful view of the sky day or night
However, you cannot enjoy all these benefits for long if you do not maintain your skylight. That means cleaning it often and servicing it every once in a while.
Skylights are exposed to dust, debris, and water droplets that may cloud the surface. If left uncleaned, a dirty skylight won’t give you much illumination.
It is also likely to get into disrepair easily, especially if debris and grime get stuck in its closing mechanisms which may cause air and water leaks.
You may assume rainwater washes away most of the dirt on your skylight. Or that they are installed at a pitch that ensures any debris or water runs of their surfaces. But that is not enough to keep your skylight clean forever.
Some water stains, bird droppings, leaves, dust, and other forms of dirt will remain stuck to your skylight with time.
If left on the skylight, this dirt or dust may discolor or ruin the glazing by etching or scratching it.
Therefore, as you can see, regular maintenance is crucial to avoid such unnecessary damages and keep your skylight working properly.
But the question is, how do you maintain a skylight to ensure it lasts for a long time and performs excellently?
Well, the first step is keeping it clean.
How to clean a skylight
Occasionally you have to get a ladder and clean both surfaces (inside and outside) of your skylight. You don’t need any special cleaning equipment or supplies.
Avoid using harsh cleaners on your skylight, especially if they are petroleum or alcohol-based.
Simply wipe it with warm soapy water using a non-abrasive cloth. You must then dry it with a lint-free cloth to get rid of any moisture.
Finish cleaning your skylight glazing by giving it a once-over with a soft cloth and non-abrasive glass cleaner to keep it clear and bright. Repeat the process when cleaning the interior of your skylight.
Next, wipe the skylight framing with a damp cloth dipped in household detergent and warm water until all the grime is cleaned off it, then dry it properly.
If it is made of wood, polish or varnish it, as well. Otherwise, if it’s painted, wiping it is enough.
Where there is mold growth, you can kill it by wiping the area down with a sterilizing solution made of 1 part bleach to 10 parts water.
Then, rinse the area with clean water and apply a protective coating such as varnish or paint, depending on the surface.
Regularly doing this will ensure your skylight lets in more light and prevent breakdowns caused by a build-up of dirt.
Inspecting a skylight
Once you clean your skylight, inspect it for any damages. Some people do that before cleaning the skylight, but it’s best to do it afterward because you can see better when it’s clean.
It is the best way to ensure different parts of your skylight are working correctly. Several issues may pop up.
- The weatherproofing or flashing may be worn out, which may require re-doing to prevent air or water leaks
- The glazing may have cracks, scratches, or etches due to hits from hail or debris such as tree branches
- The framing may be rotten (in the case of wood frames) or in disrepair due to exposure to water or excess temperatures
- Any finish such as varnish or paint may have worn out, which will expose the wood underneath to damage
- Operating mechanisms such as pull cords, gears, and motors may be faulty such that you cannot open or close your skylight correctly.
- The path around your skylight opening may have a build-up of debris that prevents it from closing completely.
- Roof shingles around the skylight may be broken, thereby causing water to leak through it.
- Fasteners that keep your skylight together, such as screws, could be rusty or worn out, loosening sections of the skylight
All these issues can prevent your skylight from operating at its best. And if left unattended to, they will damage it completely, forcing you to purchase another one.
Therefore, you should inspect your skylight at least once a year to identify any problems and work on them as early as possible.
Experts advise us to schedule skylight inspections together with a roof inspection to kill two birds with one stone and lessen the cost.
It helps to find an expert who can do both because they will protect the integrity of your roof.
Repairing your skylight
Once you identify problems on your skylight, you may choose to repair it instead of consulting an expert. Here are some tips on how to solve common skylight problems.
- Apply clear caulk between the skylight glazing and framing to repair weak seals
- Replace damaged glazing with double-paned or tempered glass if it’s beyond repair
- Change the framing if it is worn out due to water damage or debris build-up. For example, you can replace broken wooden frames with new ones.
- Seal or weld any cracks on the glazing using silicone sealant
- Repair roof damage with roofing cement by applying it to any gaps in the roof
- Repair gaps in the flashing using roofing cement or re-install it
These tips will help you to keep your skylight in excellent repair. But you also have the option of hiring an expert.
Using an expert will keep you from damaging your skylight further or causing any new problems.
However, it’s best to find out the cost of repairs first. If it exceeds the price of a new skylight, you should install a new one.
Safety measures to follow when maintaining your skylight
Skylights are installed high up, which means inspecting or cleaning them yourself will expose you to hazards such as dangerous falls.
Therefore, follow these tips to keep yourself safe when cleaning or inspecting your skylight.
- Use a sturdy ladder or scaffolding to get up the roof.
- Solidly set up your ladder against a sturdy backing or use a ladder stabilizer to hold it in place when working.
- Wear safety gear such as a harness, lifeline, and anchor to keep you from falling while cleaning your skylight.
- Put fall protection such as safety netting underneath to cushion you in case of a fall
- Wear roofing clothes that will protect you from injuries, such as a hard hat, tool belt, and roofing shoes.
- Prepare everything you need and keep it by your side to keep from going up and down the ladder unnecessarily.
- Work on your skylight on a cool day to keep from suffering sun damage and heat stress due to high temperatures. It will also keep you from leaving water spots or streaks on your skylight.
- Avoid working on rainy days to prevent falls caused by slipping on wet surfaces
- If your skylight is out of reach because your home has high ceilings, hire professional maintenance experts to clean it. They are unlikely to damage the skylight or roof when cleaning it due to their expertise.
Make it easy to maintain your skylight
You can make life easier for yourself when it comes to maintaining a skylight if you follow these tips.
Pick the right skylight
Choose an easy-to-maintain skylight that provides you with the most benefits.
And before you make a purchase, look through the manufacturer’s instructions to see if you can handle the maintenance associated with keeping it in excellent condition. Such instructions will tell you how to clean it or inspect it and when.
It’s best to install a skylight you can maintain without too much hassle. An electric skylight may be easy to operate using a remote control, but how easy is it to keep the electric wiring in great shape?
Making your choices in this way will ensure you pick the least stressful skylight to maintain. You can also make the right decision by looking at the best-rated skylights in any year.
There, you will find skylights with superior venting and insulation capabilities as well as build.
Installing one of these skylights will reduce the chances of air and water leaks that often damage skylights and reduce your maintenance costs.
For example, a skylight made of double-paned insulated glass and wood framing is less likely to cause condensation issues.
Install it correctly
Many times skylights break down because they were improperly installed.
Therefore your skylight must be installed by an expert in the right way from the start.
Otherwise, shoddy jobs involving improper sealing or flashing will cause leaks and other problems.
Also, choose the proper placement for your skylight with no obstacles that will unnecessarily dirty or damage it.
For example, putting it up close to a tall tree may contribute to tree sap stains or attract birds who will leave droppings on it.
It is also likely to block natural light when you require lots of it to stream through your skylight for the best illumination.
Therefore consider such factors to make sure you install your skylight the right way and in the right place.
High humidity may cause condensation, which will cause water to drip off your skylight.
These kinds of water drops are often confused for leaks. People always assume the skylight is damaged, which is why it is dripping.
Eliminate such confusion by balancing the humidity in your home.
You can do this by ventilating your skylight regularly. If you have a fixed skylight, find other ways to clear indoor humidity, such as ventilation fans or dehumidifiers.
Maintain your roof too
Your skylight may run into disrepair because your roof is damaged. Therefore, when maintaining your skylight, think of your roof too.
Repair any damages to it that may extend to your skylight, such as replacing worn-out roofing cement that may cause damages to the skylight flashing.
You must also replace missing or broken shingles immediately you notice them to keep water from flowing underneath your skylight.
When all is said and done, hiring a roofing expert to keep your roof in great condition is the best way to maintain it and other installations on it.
A skylight should last for a minimum of ten years. If you do not take care of it, you will likely purchase a new one before these years are up.
Since installing skylights is not a cheap venture, it’s a shame to let your’s go into disrepair when you can maintain it and enjoy it for many years.
Therefore, use these tips to keep your skylight in top condition to avoid unwanted repair bills and ensure it has a long lifespan.