The simplest leak to prove evidence on is a tile roof leak. If there is a skylight within 6 feet of the drip location odds are it’s the pan flashing on the skylight. It is simply put, the most common roof leak I encounter. No one is ever told it is something they need to maintain. Only when they meet me, due to the most unfortunate turn of events, do they learn the cause and maintenance requirement therein. One simple photo instils confidence in the home owner that I know what I’m talking about. Such was the case today in Vancouver. A single photo showing the wet 1×4 wood surrounding the skylight is proof that a dirty and compromised pan flashing was the cause of the leak. Now if only all leaks were that easy to find.
Let’s talk about skylights. I love them and feel they add so much to a room or space. There are two major manufacturers of skylights that are distributed in the Lower Mainland area. The two companies are Columbia Skylights and Velux. Don’t be confused by the name “Columbia” as Columbia Skylights is not related to the concrete tile manufacturer called Columbia Concrete Roof Tiles. Skylights can be broken down into two categories. Acrylic domed is the less expensive style compared to that of a sealed glass unit. When comparing these two model styles, it’s a case of you get what you pay for. To summarize MY position, I will only install sealed glass units and the skylights.
I recommend are made by Velux. Acrylic domed skylights are prone to condensation. They are not a tightly sealed unit and therefore have no thermal break. I’ve seen these skylights condensate in less than a year from original installation. That is not desirable. In addition they act as a virtual magnifying glass in the summer. What I mean is that the room below the skylight is going to be very warm when the sun beats down on the unit. Sealed glass units will only condensate when the air-tight seal has expired. That tells you it is time to replace it. Typically this seal will last 10-15 years, or more, past initial installation. Also sealed glass units are reflective so the room below will not be as warm as that of those with acrylic domed units.
Now let’s talk about leaks. The Columbia manufacturer has maintained a design that incorporates three separate pieces. The three pieces are the plastic saddle that sits on the curb, the glass or domed window and the frame which ties everything together. Too many times I have disassembled a Columbia skylight to find the plastic saddle cracked and allowing water to enter the house. Velux has recently evolved their design detail to incorporate the whole skylight assembly into a single piece unit. Velux’s design is superior in other ways also. There is a rubber baffle gasket around the perimeter of the skylight which when compressed allows a much more airtight seal onto the top of the curb. A Velux skylight can also be tightly snugged up to the upslope span of the curb which eliminates the possibility of snow build up entering the room below or a bouncing rain getting in under the frame causing a leak.
If you’re considering upgrading your skylights, call my cell 604-561-8798 for a free assessment and consultation.