Skylights are a fantastic way to cut through the winter gloom of the West coast, providing natural light during darker months. When considering commercial skylights, this added lighting can have the benefit of reducing electricity costs of artificial lighting when using Energy Star certified materials in larger spaces. Skylights can also help improve customer and employee morale — because sunshine makes people happier. In addition, skylights are an attractive addition to your business architecture.
This all sounds great, but people will often mention a huge downfall in skylights — that these windows to the sky can leak. Actually, properly installed and maintained skylights shouldn’t have any trouble with leaks. You can help avoid and prevent water problems by being aware of the following signs.
Ensure Proper Installation
Any skylight or any window for that matter will leak if not installed correctly. Modern skylights are designed to be water-tight when installing correctly, so choosing a skilled contractor is important. At the time of installation, there should be care and precision in framing the opening and applying flashing and sealant to the skylight area.
Maintenance and Cleaning are Required
Structures need cleaning and maintenance to stay in top shape, and commercial skylights are no different. A common cause of skylight leaks is the erosion of the seal to the roof over time. Older skylights may need to be replaced at anywhere between 10-20 years, while newer products can have an extended lifetime. A key to helping these seals last the longest is to schedule regular cleanings and inspections to remove dirt, mold, moss, and ice that can damage the areas where the roof and skylight meet.
In addition, you will get the most sunlight and beauty with clean windows.
Another common cause of leaks is physical damage to a skylight. A maintenance worker might apply too much weight to a small window, a bird might generate an impact, or a hailstorm may cause cracks. Construction in your area may also put your skylights at risk. Unfortunately, there is no way to prevent an accident, but choosing a good insurance and product warranty can greatly reduce and replacement cost.
Also look for quality skylight materials, as newer products will be less likely to crack in the first place when compared to older acrylics.
Balance Skylights and Traditional Roofing Material
Temperature problems are more likely to arise with a large number of skylights and minimal roofing insulation. Lack of insulation can lead to extreme temperature differences which can cause condensation, and while condensation is not a direct leak from the outside it can still cause water problems. Always check with a licensed contractor to find the best balance between light and insulation when choosing your skylights. Consider modular skylights for larger areas, to increase stability and proper seals between different windows. Ask your architect what layouts will give you maximum light and energy efficiency, and always use energy-saving materials.
Learn more about commercial skylights in the Bay area with your local experts.