Fixing a Leaky Skylight
LESLIE: John from Melville, New York, who’s dealing with a leaky skylight. Tell us about the problem.JOHN: I have a couple of skylights. They’re in like a bathroom and the bathroom has a high ceiling and the skylights just leak when it’s a really heavy rain or when the rain is coming from out of the northeast.TOM: John, what kind of skylights are these? Are they glass skylights? Are they plastic bubbles? Can you describe them for me?JOHN: No, no, no. They’re Andersen skylights.TOM: OK.JOHN: They’re open; you can open them and they have like a copper flashing around them, which is underneath the shingles.TOM: Right. Now, an Andersen skylight has something called a flashing kit and it’s basically assembled on top of the skylight frame so it can be disassembled, because I suspect that something is breaking down in this flashing area.Essentially, what you need to do is take the flashing kit apart. There’s a head piece that will come off first and there’s two side pieces and then you’re going to see like a black, rubber band – like sort of a big lip – and that’s going to cover the step flashing that goes around the side of it. Somewhere in that assembly, you’re going to probably find a crack or a break in the shingles or in some piece of flashing that’s allowing the water to get in. It’s a very good skylight and one that should be easy to fix.JOHN: Oh, wow. Thanks.TOM: It’s not something that you want to take apart and sort of slap a lot of tar around it. It’s got a good flashing system so just take it apart, figure out what went wrong and put it back together again.JOHN: Oh. I just had a guy just put a layer of tar around the …TOM: (groaning) Oh, man.JOHN: Oh, man.TOM: That’s the lazy man’s way out.LESLIE: Yeah, tar is like the worst patch.TOM: Yeah.JOHN: Oh, wow. So how bad is that now?TOM: Is it still leaking?JOHN: I don’t know. He just did it like a couple days ago.TOM: Alright. Well, listen. I would leave it alone for now but if it starts to leak again, what I would do is I would take the roofing apart around it and you’re going to have to cut out everything that he tarred and reshingle right around that. But hopefully, you can probably preserve the existing flashing kit and if you can’t, you could order a new flashing kit.JOHN: Oh, great. OK. (Leslie chuckles) So I don’t have to go with a new skylight. Great. That’s great.TOM: (overlapping voices) No, I don’t think so. I think it’s completely repairable, OK, John?JOHN: Thanks very much, guys.TOM: You’re welcome. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.