Debunking the myth of the leaky skylight

Why is it that homeowners who wouldn’t hesitate to cut a hole in the wall where they want a new window think twice about cutting a hole in the roof for a skylight? For many, the answer is simply “fear of springing a leak.”

Yet the same modern technologies that ensure windows keep water out are at work in modern skylights, says Joe Patrick, senior product manager with skylight manufacturer Velux. “The truth is, modern skylights are no more prone to leaks than any well-made, properly installed window in your home,” he adds. “The only thing a properly installed modern skylight will allow to pour into your home is healthful natural light and fresh air.”

Skylights are a great source of natural light, thermal heat or natural venting of stale indoor air, especially when paired with available blinds and controls. They are particularly useful in close, small areas where a window may not be practical, and are particularly popular for kitchens and baths for this reason. Skylights have been around for about as long as architecture has, but they enjoyed a heyday a few decades ago … until homeowners began to focus on concerns about leaks.

Whether their fears were well founded or not, many homeowners began to equate skylights with leaks and energy loss. “That was sometimes a valid concern with poorly made or improperly installed skylights,” Patrick says.

Modern skylight technology, however, including pre-engineered flashing kits (the metal “shield” that goes around an opening in a wall or roof) designed to work specifically with the roof type – shingles, tile or metal – makes properly installed skylights totally dependable. Modern skylights not only keep water out, they are energy efficient as well, with Energy Star qualified models available from leading manufacturers.

“Matched flashing systems and other improvements have done away with the number one fear of people who are considering cutting a hole in a perfectly good roof,” says Roger LeBrun, Velux’s product certification engineer. In fact, Velux markets “The No Leak Skylight” that features three layers of water protection. These new deck mounted skylights come with a no-leak product and installation warranty.

After three years of research, development and testing, Velux found that the top concern of homeowners, designers, architects and builders alike was the misconception that all skylights leak. Properly installed skylights shouldn’t leak, even if they’re not No Leak Skylights, Patrick says.

It’s important to choose the right location for your skylight, being sure your roof pitch is matched with the appropriate unit and, once the location is set, to properly install the skylight. Proper flashing is a must so that the skylight can be flashed as dependably, or more so, as anything else that goes on a roof. Some skylights are “fixed,” meaning they don’t open, while others open to vent inside air.

Skylight technology has advanced to the point where Velux, a major producer and supplier of skylights throughout the country, was confident enough to dub its newest deck mounted product “No Leak.” Features include three layers of water protection; advanced LoE3 glass for better energy efficiency and improved daylighting; pre-finished white frames and sashes to eliminate the expense of painting for the homeowner; pre-mounted brackets for quick installation of sunscreen blinds; a lower roof profile with an updated architectural design; and a neutral gray color preferred by consumers and builders for its ability to blend with most roof materials and colors.

“It is important to point out that existing Velux skylights, when properly installed, don’t leak,” Patrick says. “But others, especially older plastic bubble skylights, have, and our research shows that the whole skylight category has been stigmatized and held back because of that problem.” Patrick says that Velux has always warranted its skylights against leaking.

“The image of a skylight as a source of moisture and heat loss is just all wet,” adds LeBrun. With the right product and proper installation, a new skylight can fill your home with natural light and thermal warmth, and passively vent stale indoor air, for years to come … without a single leak.

Among the home-building community, the leak-free message is getting out there. A recent survey showed that nearly 100 percent of architects, builders, remodelers and roofers believe that current skylight technology is better than older technology. And more than two-thirds of all four groups believe that current technology is much better than older technology.

To learn more about skylights and proper installation, visit,,, or

By ARAcontent


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