No! Modern skylights disprove the phrase “all skylights leak!” when purchased from a reputable manufacturer.
So why do skylights still have a leaky reputation? In the 1970s and 80s, these windows were known not only for letting in an abundance of light but an abundance of rainwater. Skylights from that time were primarily plastic. In the early 2000s, skylights underwent significant redevelopment. Glass skylights became the popular choice over plastic domes, and savvy manufacturers took on the challenge to stop the main cause of leaks: improper installation.
The Main Cause: The Installation
Whether it’s a simple mistake of not cutting the hole in your roof to the correct rough openings of the skylight, purchasing the wrong-sized skylight, or not using the proper flashing for the unit, an ill-fitting skylight will cause the unit to leak. Skylight manufacturers that are leading the industry focus on developing products that help eliminate mistakes in installation (such as flashing kits that pair with your skylight) and will oftentimes include a warranty covering the installation of your skylight. Make sure you look for those brands!
Other Reasons for a Leaky Skylight
A poorly handled installation can set your skylight up for waterproof failure, but there are other ways to cause enough damage that a skylight will start to leak. Hail can cause damage to the glass where water can flow through. Skylight manufacturers will often account for harsh or unpredictable weather in their warranties. When selecting a skylight, ensure the manufacturer offers robust protection against the elements.
Reroofing around an existing skylight can also cause a leak-proof skylight to start letting in water. The scraping and hammering that comes with removing and replacing shingles or tiles can jostle the skylight in its frame, which can lead to breaks in the flashing and weatherproofing. The best thing to do in this situation is to plan to replace your skylights when you replace your roof. This can help prevent leaks and coincide with your roof and skylight warranties for the best overall protection.