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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Gilreath

Should You Avoid Skylight Installation On Your Roof?

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

There are many reasons why skylights are popular. A good source of free lighting, they add an extra touch of beauty to any residential and commercial building. In addition to the benefits, there are also disadvantages, and if you're not aware of them, you can end up paying much more than you should. Make sure you are educated on all aspects of skylight installation both positive and negative whether you have them already or plan to add them to a new roof.

an image of what skylight nstallation looks like

Water leaks

Skylights are notorious for leaking - or maybe that should be infamous. Water can penetrate your roof as seals and flashing deteriorate with time. The process can be accelerated by things such as rain, snow, and debris. Despite the fact that modern skylights are less likely to leak than older ones, they can leak if they are not properly installed. Regular maintenance and inspections can help detect and prevent any leakage. If you already have a leaking skylight, it's important to get it fixed as soon as possible to avoid further damage to your roof and property.

Ice dams pose an additional leak risk. Whenever snow accumulates on the roof, the skylights cause it to melt. Eventually, ice dams can cause more leaks and increase roof maintenance costs, resulting in more leaks and ice dams.

Damage and Defects of Skylight Installation

Skylights are more susceptible to damage from wind and storms than standard roofs. A skylight can easily be cracked by hail or flying debris, for instance. A skylight can be the weakest part of a roof when it comes to snow loads. In the event of heavy snowfall, your skylight could fail if you calculate the maximum weight load based on the rest of the roof. To avoid this, skylights should be fortified with extra bracing and stronger materials. This can help ensure that your skylight can withstand the elements and last for years.


Workers performing roof maintenance are at risk of serious injury or death if they are struck by skylights. Skylights are often intentionally stepped on or sat on by workers who assume they are designed to bear their weight. Another risk is tripping and falling onto a skylight. Due to this, OSHA considers skylights to be open holes and requires them to be protected by screens or guard rails.

Nevertheless, guardrails are not 100% safe either. A roofing maintenance professional can fall through a skylight just as easily as he or she can fall through a safety net, depending on the quality of the net or the weight of the victim. Additionally, guardrails may not be able to protect a worker from falling debris. Furthermore, guardrails can be inadequate if they are not properly maintained or installed.

Exposure to light

In addition to providing free natural lighting, skylights also have a few drawbacks. It is possible for skylights to let in too much light, causing excess UV exposure and glare. The damage caused to furniture, carpets, artwork, and other valuable items is not only frustrating for employees, but can also be preventable. This can be prevented by installing window shades or adjustable blinds. Therefore, it is important to consider the pros and cons of installing skylights in the workplace.

money to represent the cost of energy loss due to skylight installation

Costs of energy loss

While skylights provide free lighting, they can significantly increase heating and cooling costs. Heat simply does not transfer as well through skylights as it does through traditional roofing materials. Heat escapes during the winter. Sunlight and glare only exacerbate the problem in the summer when heat seeps into the building. According to the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC), skylights can cause a building's interior temperature to fluctuate by over half of the difference between the exterior and interior temperatures. This can cause a strain on the building's heating and cooling systems, resulting in higher energy costs. To reduce this strain, the NFRC recommends using skylights with special coatings, such as Low-E glazing, to help regulate the temperature.

Restrictions on space

Rooftop space that could be used for equipment or other purposes is taken up by skylights. In order to maximize the benefits of free natural lighting, you should dedicate 7-10% of your roof to skylights. There's no way to use that space for rooftop equipment or support. A roof maintenance worker might need space for maintenance as well. Having a small roof will be a problem. It's important to strike a balance between the need for natural lighting and the need for rooftop space. Careful planning and design should be done to ensure the most efficient use of the space. It's recommended to consult a professional for advice on how to best utilize the space.

Skylight installation can add aesthetic appeal to a building, and it can also reduce the cost of electrical lighting. Building managers must consider both aspects before making an informed decision, however. Remember to consider hidden costs such as roof maintenance, heating and cooling, and safety precautions when considering skylights for your building.

If you have questions about your current skylights and roofing repairs or if you are considering skylights, reach out to the experts at Herring Residential and Commercial today for a free consultation.

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