“Skylights are very nice looking but they're also a lot of problems!” This is how Ivan Roger spontaneously answered when asked to comment this type of product. Moreover, more and more contractors simply refuse to install this equipment because of the numerous problems that follow. Nevertheless, skylights are very popular and often considered by owners who plan to renovate, mostly because contractors are now installing them in new houses.
The cold winters and major snowfalls over the past years, combined with poorly ventilated or isolated roofs have caused many inconveniences: condensation, ice build-up, water infiltration, etc. The main reason is that the roof (angled) through which the skylight is installed is not isolated (the horizontal ceiling is). The heat within the attic space melts the snow which turns into an ice barrier. It is easy to imagine the results once the weather gets warmer. That's enough to break the romantic spell often associated with skylights.
The main problem with skylights is the installation. Yet, our experts believe that, even when the skylight is installed according to the manufacturer's recommendations, there is still a risk of water infiltration.
Further, in many cases, the skylight design is faulty and not adapted to our northern climate. Thus, several models have only a few inches above the frame which favours the formation of ice barriers. It doesn't get better, on the contrary, as skylights are often installed in bathrooms and solariums where a high level of humidity is found.
Let's hope that…
In consideration of the increasing number of complaints related to skylights, l'Association provinciale des entrepreneurs en construction du Québec (APCHQ) has created a Committee of 12 specialists among whom representatives of major manufacturers whose objective is to establish installation standards that will eliminate the numerous problems mentioned above. Solutions have already been proposed, namely installing a waterproof membrane from the skylight to the base of the roof, insulating the skylight walls from the interior and raising much more the skylight from the roof.
It should be noted that the above are general recommendations only and the Committee has not yet made a final decision. When the time comes, each manufacturer will need to adapt these standards to their specific products before including them in their instruction manuals. In the meantime, caution is of the essence.