Roof leaks

Published on February 1st, 2013 | by Henri

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Skylight leaks during light rain

Q.    As I type this, I’m listening to a slight, steady drip coming from a skylight in my kitchen into a pot on the floor. As a background, we’ve owned the house for two years, have done nothing beyond cosmetic (painting, trim, etc.) work, and we’re diligent about keeping the roof and gutters free of debris.

Oddly enough, it only leaks (drips) during a slow, light rain. Heavy rains do not appear to make it drip at all. The same occurred in a skylight in my family room. As well, it only drips from the lower left hand corner (looking directly at the skylight, with the highest-peaked edge at top). Initially, the kitchen skylight never leaked. It was always the one in the family room. Now the reverse seems true. I’m quickly becoming a non-fan of skylights. Everyone I know that’s had them says the same thing. I’m wondering if it’s the angle of the rain.

I had a carpenter friend climb up on my roof to check it out, but with a quick eyeball inspection, he said it looked as though it was installed correctly; skylight . . . flashing   . . . shingles . . . etc. Any ideas before my roof caves in? It’s not that bad (yet) actually, but I don’t want it to become a bigger problem, and can’t replace the roof right now (too much money).

A.    Skylight leaks can be baffling but a very careful inspection should reveal the source of the leak. Since the leaks occur only during light rains and at certain times, it could be the angle of the rain.

Have you noticed if it occurs when the wind is coming from a certain direction?

Knowing this could help find the leak. If you can get your carpenter friend to look at it again more carefully, he could use your garden hose to mimic the type of rain you have noticed causing the leak, varying the angle of the spray until you, standing inside, see water coming through. It may take a lot of sleuthing to find the leak, but there is no reason why it can’t be found.

It sounds like a flashing problem.

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