Skylight Problems

By HomeAdvisor

Updated March 2, 2017

Wooden skylights

Skylights can bring the outside into your home in a way that few fixtures can. Whether it’s sunlight you crave, or the view of a starry night from the comfort of your living room, a skylight can provide it. Unfortunately, like just about anything else in a home, skylights occasionally have problems. Since they are often a bit inconvenient to access, skylight repairs can be particularly cumbersome.

Common Skylight Repairs

Fixing a leak is the number one reason homeowners call for skylight repair. About 90 percent of all leaks are caused by a “flashing” problem. Flashing is a piece of metal that sits flush against a skylight opening and sweeps away any water. Many leaks are slow, and you may not see them for several years until the drywall next to the skylight starts to buckle. Because they might be hard to spot when they start, it might be a good idea to have your skylight examined once a year by a professional to identify any problems before they grow. Modern, top-of-the-line skylights that are carefully installed or repaired by a service professional can be expected to remain watertight for a long time.

Newer skylights are built in accordance with rugged construction requirements. Still they can crack with impact, especially if they are glass. If your skylight is in an area where it can be easily broken, consider replacing it with a plastic, shatter-resistant version. These have the added advantage of being lightweight and economical.

Moving Skylight Repairs

Some skylights can open a few inches to allow air circulation. They’re usually operated with a pole. Occasionally the gears that raise and lower the skylight can get jammed. Some skylights can be opened automatically with motors. And like all mechanical things, these motors need occasional maintenance and repair. Remember that skylight repairs for automatic models may also be electrical rather than mechanical, and might require a different type of service provider to fix than other skylight problems.

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Many manufacturers have designed shades to fit within the frame of their skylights. Most are opaque, and can be opened and closed fully to give you maximum control over the amount of light you let in. Sometimes the gears that operate the shades can get jammed. Motor-controlled shades are a great option for skylights that are very high and out of reach. However, these motors need maintenance and repair from time to time. The problem may also be electrical.

Skylight Cleaning<

Sometimes a skylight problem stems not from a malfunction or any type of permanent damage, but simply from the skylight being dirty. Since they are hard to reach, skylight cleaning is often a job that homeowners tend to put off. The good news is that many service providers can bundle skylight cleaning with another task that needs to be done anyway. For an extra charge, you might be able to have your skylight cleaning done when you get your gutters cleaned. Though a maid service will probably balk at the idea of going on the roof to clean a skylight, it is very likely that professional window cleaners (a service that is, in itself, well worth the cost when you compare it to doing the job yourself) will be happy to include skylight cleaning in their routine, and do a pretty good job of it, too!


  1. Akram Bhuiya, July 30:

    Motor is working, but skylight is not opening.

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