Most building owners do not recognize the importance of updating skylights until it is too late, and often only after people’s safety has been compromised. Having someone on the roof come crashing through a skylight should not be the first and only sign that there is something wrong. Commercial building owners who have skylights in their structures should make sure those features are inspected, updated and well maintained to protect their stability and integrity.
This process can be as simple as having an initial inspection with renovations or replacements as dictated by the results of that evaluation. After the updates have been made, it requires a regular maintenance plan. The cost of these steps together can be much less than the expenses and emotional cost associated with a bad accident or tragedy. It is simply not worth the risk.
Risks of Having Neglected Skylights
Skylights are often placed so high up in the ceiling that it is easy to miss any integrity issues because they are simply hard to see.
Having old skylights and neglected skylights are not always one and the same. Even newer skylights that are not properly and routinely maintained can result in the following conditions that could pose safety risks:
- Brittle, fragile, and cracked skylight materials
- Skylight concealment due to debris, plant growth, snow, or hard to see materials
- Leaks due to improper installation or weather damage
- Cracked or bubbled sealant that could allow moisture penetration
- Safety hazard for those walking on the roof such as maintenance and construction crews
- Safety hazard for those inside the building who could be harmed by broken skylight debris falling
The biggest risk of neglecting the skylights in a commercial structure is that in cases such as this, problems go undetected until a serious accident or tragedy occurs. Once things reach this point, it creates a multitude of problems for the building owner. This is an unnecessary risk for individuals on or below the roof that could have been avoided.
The Importance of Updating Skylights
Once you know what the risks of neglecting skylights are, you also understand the importance of updating skylights.
In general, most high-end and expertly installed skylights can have up to a twenty-year lifespan. However, if the skylight is made of acrylic, it may cut that potential lifespan by ten to thirteen years. Keep in mind that these estimated lifespans do not take into account intense circumstances such as weather-related damage.
Although most people automatically assume updating means getting a brand-new skylight, it may only require renovation of this particular feature. Every situation is unique and should be personally evaluated by a professional roofing expert.
Before a renovation or replacement is recommended, the following three steps should be taken:
- Thorough inspection of the feature by a professional commercial roofing company
- Documentation of any weak and/or failing spots
- Examination of seams and penetration to ensure both are watertight
The data gathered from this process will help determine if a renovation or complete replacement is needed.
If an expert determines that a renovation of the skylight will provide sufficient modernization, commercial owners can generally expect something similar to the below procedure:
- Determine and set safety guidelines for employees for the duration of the skylight project
- Remove loose or hazardous materials that may have originated from previous repair attempts by others
- Remove cracked, broken, or compromised skylights
- Install self-flashing skylights as needed
- Seal new installations with modern and quality materials
- Follow manufacturer’s recommended instructions
- Meet warranty guidelines for installation
- Clean up work area
Why A Roofing Company Should Perform Skylight Renovations and Replacements
Skylights are a window of sorts, but they are also part of the overall structure of the roof. For that reason, the skylight, roofing materials, and connections must work together to protect the interior of a commercial building. With these features being a part of the roof, it is critical to enlist the help of a reputable and experienced roofing company who also specializes in skylights. If hiring a glass installer alone to do the installation, they may not have the necessary qualifications to ensure that it does not compromise the integrity of the roof.
Some considerations to keep in mind when looking for a professional roofing company include:
- Look for a company who specializes in multiple roofing solutions so they are prepared to handle whatever the situation calls for
- Ensure the changes the company wants to make are necessary and well documented from the inspection
- Choose a company that is willing to find the most economical but functional skylight repairs and installations for your budget
- Verify that any changes or installations are done so with the intent of extending the life of the existing roofing system
When working with professional roofing experts, should roof damage be discovered amidst a skylight replacement or installation, it allows the same company already on the job to evaluate and fix the situation in a more effective and expedient way. If a glass installer was in the same situation, they would likely have to halt work and call in a roofing company, which can significantly delay the end of the project.
Benefits of Modernizing Skylights
Aside from the importance of updating skylights, there can also be added benefits to modernizing them, whether it is via renovation or complete replacement. Some of these benefits include:
- A warmer and more inviting ambiance in the interior of the building
- More aesthetic appeal
- A reduction in energy usage as the use of artificial light sources can be reduced when there is an abundance of natural light
- Better skylight insulation which can also reduce energy usage
- Increased productivity from people working within the building as natural light is thought to sometimes be helpful in improving a person’s mood and energy level, often increasing productivity
The importance of updating skylights is not just a maintenance issue, it could also be a life saving issue. Protect those on top of and inside your commercial building by ensuring that your skylights are well inspected, installed properly, and maintained on a regular basis. The peace of mind for building owners is worth every penny.