Many homeowners enjoy skylights because they allow natural lighting into the home while maintaining privacy. However, sometimes homeowners wish they didn't have skylights because of all the problems they cause. One of the most challenging problems involves condensation, which could cause damage to personal property in the interior of the home, as well as structural damage. If you have skylights or would like to have them in your home, here are a few important things to understand.
Condensation forms on the glass at the dew point
You may remember a bit about condensation from your science classes in elementary school. Condensation forms at the dew point. The dew point is the variable temperature at which moisture in the air forms into visible droplets of water when it hits a surface, which is also at a different variable temperature.
Since the temperature of the interior of your house is likely different from the exterior of your house, condensation typically can form on your skylights. This tends to happen when there is a lot of moisture in the air, such as from taking a steaming-hot shower or boiling a pot of water, and the outdoor temperature is a lot colder or hotter than the indoor temperature.
To combat the build-up of condensation on skylights, manufacturers design them with double or triple panes of glass with a space of insulated air in between each pane. This significantly reduces the ability for the surface of the glass to reach the current dew point at any given time, which eliminates the build-up of condensation. Of course, condensation can and will build up if there is something wrong with the skylight.
Problems that can cause condensation to form
As was already discussed, if you have a single-paned skylight, there doesn't have to be a problem for condensation to form. However, for condensation to form on double- and triple-paned skylights there does have to be a problem. Here are two problems double- and triple-paned skylights can have:
- The seal around one of more of the panes of glass is broken. This is allowing air and moisture to seep in and form condensation at the dew point. This can be caused by a stress fracture on the seal, or the skylight may have been improperly installed.
- One or more of the panes of glass are cracked or broken. This will also allow air and moisture to compromise the insulated space in between the panes. This can be caused by debris breaking the glass or structural problems with the framing.
Repair tips for when there's condensation in skylights
It's important to have a condensation gutter surrounding the interior of the glass of single-paned skylights. This is a ledge that will collect condensation that forms on the glass so it doesn't drip onto your furniture and other belongings. It's important to clean out the condensation gutter on occasion, or it will overflow.
For double- and triple-paned skylights, the seals around the skylight may be repaired. However, it's important to figure out of the breach in the seal has caused any structural damage to the framing of the skylight and/or the roof before moving ahead. If the flaw caused moisture and/or water to leak into the framing or roofing, there may be water damage and wood rot.
Once it's determined that there is no structural damage, or it has been repaired, the skylight can be removed so the panes and seals can be repaired. However, it may be a good idea to replace the skylight entirely, not just repair the panes and/or seals.
Hire a contractor who specializes in both roofing and window repair for the best results. These professionals know where to look for hidden damage that may have been caused by faulty skylights.