The Disadvantages of Skylights in Houses: Common Issues and Solutions

by | May 22, 2024 | Skylight

The Disadvantages of Skylights in Houses Common Issues and Solutions

Skylights, while aesthetically appealing, can introduce unexpected complications in a home. When installed, they increase both direct expenditures linked to set-up and later maintenance, such as leaks and condensation issues, that could eventually lead to more substantial troubles. Moreover, an often-overlooked downside is their impact on home insulation and energy consumption. The added windows can modify a home's temperature -- pumping up your energy bills -- through loss of heat in winter and extra warmth in summer. So, if you're considering adding that touch of sky in your roof's design, it's not just the immediate installation charges to contemplates about.

While skylights bring natural light and ventilation into a home, potential disadvantages may include increased heat loss or gain, potential for leaks if not installed properly, and potential for fading of interior furnishings due to increased exposure to sunlight. It's important to consult with a professional roofing contractor to assess the specific implications for your home.

Inviting skylit living room

Costs of Skylights – Installation and Maintenance

There's no denying that skylights can significantly enhance the aesthetic appeal and ambiance of your living space. However, it's essential to keep in mind the financial aspects associated with them.

Let's begin with the installation costs. These can vary widely based on several factors such as the type and size of the skylight. For instance, fixed skylights may generally be less expensive than vented ones, where the latter can be opened to allow ventilation. Structurally, larger skylights usually require more materials and labor to install, especially when adding one to an existing roof rather than during new construction.

For example, installing a large vented skylight on an existing roof that requires significant structural adjustments will likely incur far greater costs than adding a small fixed skylight to a newly constructed home.

Now let's consider ongoing maintenance costs. Regular maintenance is necessary to prevent issues such as leaks or condensation, which could lead to more significant problems over time. Roofing around the skylight needs regular inspection for any possible leaks or damage resulting from exposure to the elements. Proper flashing, sealants, and insulation necessitate meticulous inspection and replacement when required.

It's important for homeowners to factor in these costs when considering having skylights installed in their homes. Although they undoubtedly bring a beautiful source of natural light into your living spaces, homeowners should be aware that there are financial implications beyond just the initial installation costs.

Consideration should also be given to the potential energy savings offered by skylights through natural light and heat gain, which could offset some of these ongoing costs.

Understanding these costs will provide a more holistic view for homeowners considering bringing in this charming feature into their homes—an understanding not only of its expense but also its value.

Now equipped with financial awareness surrounding skylights, homeowners are better prepared to delve into another substantial area of consideration—insulation loss and energy consumption increase.

Insulation Loss and Energy Consumption Increase

Thermal skylight heat loss

Skylights can have drawbacks when it comes to your home's temperature control and energy use. The additional glass brings in more sunlight, contributing heat to your living space, and in winter, that extra thermal conductivity can let warmth escape. Both scenarios lead to a higher demand for heating and cooling, impacting energy bills and home comfort.

The dual nature of skylights is part of the appeal—they brighten up rooms and bring in natural light while offering a view of the sky. However, this can come at a cost, especially when it impacts the energy efficiency of your home. It's essential for homeowners to be aware of how skylights might affect their energy use so they can make informed decisions.

Consider this analogy: Skylights are like open windows but on your roof. On warm, sunny days, they let in the sun’s heat just like a window does on a hot day. The difference is that once you open a window, you might feel instant relief; however, solar heat gains via skylights can be less noticeable but keep building up over time.

The insulating properties of your roofing system can be considerably impacted by skylights. While modern skylights incorporate advanced glazing that helps mitigate some of these issues, homes with an excessive number or poorly positioned skylights might experience more substantial challenges.

When installing skylights, working closely with a professional can help optimize their placement and find solutions to reduce their impact on insulation loss and energy consumption. Measures such as selecting energy-efficient glazing materials or incorporating shades or blinds can also help manage these concerns effectively.

Skylights can bring many benefits but understanding their potential drawbacks is crucial for homeowners considering installation. It's about striking a balance between ample natural light and maintaining comfortable temperatures within the home without causing significant increases in energy usage and costs.

In considering ways to maintain comfortable temperatures within your home, now we turn our attention to exploring the topic of "Temperature Rise: Causes and Solutions". This will shed light on common factors contributing to temperature rise indoors and effective strategies to address them.

Temperature Rise: Causes and Solutions

Bedroom with skylight

Skylights brighten your home with natural light, but they can also bring an unwanted side effect: heat gain. This means that during particularly sunny days, rooms with skylights may feel warmer than other areas in your home. The main culprit for this is the greenhouse effect. Just like a car with its doors locked on a hot summer day, skylights can trap and magnify heat inside your home.

When sunlight shines through a skylight, it hits objects in your home, such as furniture, carpets, and walls. These objects absorb some of the sunlight's energy and then give it off as heat. However, not all the heat can escape back through the skylight, causing it to accumulate inside your home. This can lead to discomfort for occupants and increased air conditioning costs.

Identifying the Problem

Sometimes opening windows doesn't help beat the warmth inside; it's often necessary to resort to fans or air conditioning units, contributing to higher electricity bills. A connection can directly be drawn between the overworked air conditioner and any exposed skylight.

Sunscreens or curtains might become a go-to solution for many homeowners trying to minimize the warmth invading their homes.

Reducing Temperature Rise

Now there are better ways to deal with temperature rise from skylights than just blocking them off completely:

  1. Low-Emissivity Glass: Designed to control heat gain or loss, this glass allows light to enter just as before but soaks up less solar radiation and emits less radiant heat into living spaces.
  2. Thermal Screen: These interior shades fitted close to the ceiling beneath a skylight are designed to filter incoming sunlight and reduce heat gain.
  3. Exterior Shading: Another efficient trick is fitting external shades or awnings around your skylights which act as barriers against direct sunlight.

All of these elements combine form what we could call "energy-efficient skylight designs". They are purposefully crafted to help reduce temperature rise and maintain a comfortable indoor environment without compromising on sunlight or architectural appeal.

These solutions seem pretty savvy when you think about how they might address common issues related to skylights. It's always worthwhile considering these different strategies when striving to minimize the impact of temperature rise due to skylights in homes.

Understanding how certain materials influence various factors in your living space leads us now to explore "Material Selection: Impact and Subtle Differences".

Material Selection: Impact and Subtle Differences

Skylight material samples

When it comes to skylights, choosing the right material can significantly influence the performance and durability of this essential home feature. Each material option has its distinct qualities, and understanding these differences is crucial for homeowners making informed decisions about their skylight installations. Let's delve into how material choices can impact your skylight experience.

Glass Skylights

Glass skylights are known for their exceptional durability and timeless aesthetic. They offer superior clarity and are less prone to discoloration over time compared to plastic alternatives. Additionally, glass provides better insulation from noise and temperature changes, enhancing overall comfort levels within the home.

On the contrary, though, glass skylights tend to be heavier and more expensive than plastic counterparts.

Plastic/Acrylic Skylights

Conversely, plastic or acrylic skylights are often more affordable than glass options. They are lighter in weight, making them easier to install and less likely to stress the structure of the roof. However, they can degrade over time due to exposure to UV rays, causing discoloration and reduced clarity. This degradation can lead to potential leaks or other maintenance issues down the line.

It's essential for homeowners to carefully consider each aspect of material selection. While glass offers improved longevity and aesthetics, plastic may be a more cost-effective initial investment for those on a budget.

For instance, if you're planning for a long-term investment in your home and want minimal maintenance over the years, opting for a glass skylight might be the wiser choice despite its higher upfront cost. Conversely, if you need a more budget-friendly alternative while maintaining some level of natural light within your home, a plastic skylight could suit your needs perfectly.

By understanding these subtle differences in skylight materials, homeowners can make informed decisions that align with their unique priorities and budget considerations. The impact of material selection on the longevity and performance of skylights cannot be overlooked when embarking on a home improvement project involving these fixtures.

This sets the stage for examining air leakage issues commonly associated with certain skylight materials.

Air Leakage and Resulting Damage

Skylight air leakage

Improper skylight installation or sealing can lead to numerous detrimental issues. For instance, air leakage can result in pesky drafts that disrupt indoor comfort and create temperature imbalances. Imagine feeling cold drafts in the winter or experiencing humidity levels increasing during those warm summer months. Such discomfort has a direct impact on the home environment and occupants' well-being.

Moreover, moisture problems are likely to arise when air leakage occurs around skylights. As warm air rises and collects around the skylight, it meets the cooler surface and condenses, leading to moisture formation. Condensation then becomes a notorious culprit for mold growth as it provides the ideal environment for spores to thrive. This kind of damage is not just unsightly but also poses serious health risks.

The implications of these issues are not limited to comfort and aesthetics; they extend to potential structural damage. Moisture seeping into the structure over time can weaken wooden beams and cause drywall to deteriorate. Addressing these issues once they materialize can be far more costly than ensuring proper skylight installation and avoiding air leakage from the start.


As with any fundamental problem, prevention is always better than cure. Ensuring proper skylight installation by professionals who know how to seal them tightly is key to warding off these issues.

Proper sealing of skylights is crucial, utilizing high-quality weather-stripping materials that effectively keep out unwanted air and moisture.

Consulting an experienced contractor or a professional roofing service before making any decisions about installing or repairing a skylight can help you avoid potential issues down the line.

Looking out for professional help can save you from future potential disasters that come from improperly sealed skylights, providing peace of mind for years to come. Taking care of this now can save you from significant headaches later on, helping maintain your property's integrity and reducing long-term repair costs.

In this light, taking proactive measures against common skylight issues becomes vital for ensuring a safe, comfortable living space. Now, let's explore the environmental impact of skylights—both the good and the bad.

Skylight's Impact on the Environment: Common Issues and Solutions