Let the Sun Shine in

Best bets for new skylights: bringing greater light, ventilation, energy efficiency and views to your home
Let the Sun Shine In
Let the Sun Shine In
On this Lucas Valley roof, a cluster of domed acrylic skylights lights up the Eichler below.

Our love affair with skylights stems from a simple place: the desire to feel fresh air and warm sunlight even when we're inside our homes. Nothing really beats the feeling of being one with nature.

The romance can turn sour, however, when those beloved skylights begin to drip, condense with moisture, or become brittle over time.

Through a little professional counseling, and perhaps replacement with a younger model, homeowners can rejuvenate their relationship with these special architectural features.

Skylights leak and condensate for a variety of reasons. Temperature fluctuations, improper installation, age, and inadequate waterproofing are the leading causes.

Let the Sun Shine In
The skylight above this Eichler kitchen helps to make meal prep an easier task.
Let the Sun Shine In

In Eichlers, when radiant-heated floors are paired with single-dome skylights that face cold air outside, condensation naturally occurs. Over time, condensation deteriorates the skylight's aluminum frame, as well as its curb, which is the raised, wooden frame that helps to deflect away water.

Sun and weather can degrade a skylight over time. Something hitting the window, like an errant ball from a neighboring yard, can also crack it. Problems may also arise when someone improperly caulks the edging of an old acrylic skylight.

Skylights are constructed to operate in conjunction with rainwater. Each skylight has weep holes that drain the water that gets under its frame back onto the roof.

Over time, the weep holes can get clogged, causing water to back up and leak into the house. An experienced skylight contractor will know to inspect weep holes and unclog them before attempting any other repair. Unfortunately, inexperienced do-it-yourselfers and handymen may instead caulk the window, which can make the problem worse. Excessive caulking will clog weep holes permanently.