A skylight can let plenty of natural light into your home and add beauty to your space. However, if you don't care for your skylight properly, it may become more of an eyesore than an enjoyable architectural element. To guard against leaks, deterioration, and that dreaded dusty look, follow these skylight maintenance protocols.
Check the flashing.
At least once a year in the fall -- and preferably also in the spring -- it's wise to climb up on your roof and take a look at the flashing around the skylight. This is the metal that forms a junction between the skylight and the roofing shingles. The flashing should be flat against the roof and free from rust. If it shows any signs of rust or is beginning to bend, this could lead to leaks, so you'll want to have your roofing contractor come replace or repair it promptly.
Repair the caulk.
While you're on the roof, also take a look at the caulk that seals the window itself into the frame. If the caulk appears to be peeling, molding, or decaying, wait until a dry day, and re-caulk the skylight.
Peel the old caulk out of the groove, using a putty knife if necessary. Then, use a caulking gun to apply a thin line of window caulk (most formulas are silicone-based) to the groove. Smooth the line out with your finger, and let the caulk dry.
Clean it well.
Leaves and debris should not be allowed to sit on the skylight or on the roof surrounding it. They trap moisture near these surfaces, accelerating deterioration. So get into the habit of sweeping debris off the exterior of the skylight whenever you see it. Use a long-handled broom that allows you to reach the skylight from a step ladder on the ground.
About once a year, use a soap and water solution to scrub the exterior glass of the skylight. Rinse it with a steady stream of water from the hose, and it should dry streak-free.
You'll also want to climb up on a ladder inside your home and clean the interior skylight glass with a conventional glass cleaner. Use a cotton swab to get the dust out of corners. Ideally, you should clean the interior every 3 to 6 months depending on how dusty it gets.
To learn more about proper skylight maintenance -- or if you see some damage that you think needs repair -- contact a roofing contractor in your area. Taking proper care of your skylight now will save you from leaks and damaged shingles in a few years!