McClurg's Home Remodeling Blog

How to Clean and Care for Skylights

Posted by Brian Ciota on Tue, Jul 5, 2011

SkylightsLast week we posted a blog about skylights. Homeowners often ask us how to care for and maintain skylights after they are installed. Skylights require cleaning once or twice a year and should be inspected to assure they are functioning properly.

Since skylights are overhead on the interior and on the roof on the exterior, you’ll need a step stool or ladder to reach them. Be sure you have solid footing and that the stool or ladder won’t slip as you work. Don’t use furniture, i.e. a chair, for elevation. Safety is key, use appropriate equipment for the job. Know your limits. If you cannot safely access the area to be cleaned, call a professional to do the job.

Supplies you will need to clean skylights

2 buckets - one for the cleaning solution and one filled with clean, warm water
good-quality rubber squeegee
clean, lint-free cloths
sudsy ammonia
rubbing alcohol
1-inch razor blade
rubber gloves
spray bottles

Make a cleaning solution

We recommend a mild, non-abrasive glass cleaning solution for skylights.  Many store-bought window cleaners don’t work well and cause streaks.  A solution of water, ammonia and rubbing alcohol will leave the window clean and clear. Alcohol helps water evaporate quickly to eliminate streaking. Consumer Reports tested window cleaning products and recommends mixing the following solution:

-    Pour about 3.5 pints (54 ounces) of cold water into a bucket.
-    Slowly add 1/4 cup sudsy ammonia and 1 cup of rubbing alcohol.
-    Mix the solution well (pour it into clean spray bottles if you desire).
We use it and it works well.

Tips for cleaning skylights

For best results avoid cleaning skylights during the hottest part of the day or on a sunny day because when the sun hits directly on a window where glass cleaner has been applied it can cause streaking. We install a lot of VELUX skylights, they are experts on the care and maintenance of skylights. These are tips they suggest for cleaning skylights:

  1. If there are multiple rows of skylights, start at the highest row and work down.
  2. Begin by soaking the skylight glass with the cleaning solution loosening dirt and debris. NEVER use abrasive cleaners or scrubbers because they can damage the glazing.
  3. Once the dirt is removed, wipe the window a second time with the clear water from the second bucket. Immediately squeegee the window and wipe the squeegee dry after each swipe. Use a clean cloth to wipe any wet corners on the window.
  4. Use care not to touch any metal parts of the cleaning equipment to the glass or let any abrasive materials be dragged across the glass surface.
  5. Do not use metal scrapers, blades or knives for cleaning large areas of glass as this practice can easily scratch and cause permanent damage to the skylight glass.
  6. For hard to remove spots like tree sap, label adhesive, paint or other construction material, a new 1” razor blade may need to be used on small spots only. If a razor blade needs to be used, scrape only in one direction. Back and forth scraping can trap abrasive materials under the blade causing scratches and possible permanent damage to the glass.
  7. Clean interior frames with a damp cloth.

Other maintenance tips

Cleaning screens. If you have insect screens in venting skylights, VELUX recommends cleaning them by removing the screen and spraying the screen with a garden hose. Let the screens dry thoroughly before placing them into the skylights.

Inspect the exterior. Keep skylights clear of debris. Check exterior cladding and flashing for excessive wear or scratches on the cladding finish. Scratches in the cladding finish may be fixed with touch-up paint. Damaged claddings or flashings should be replaced as soon as they are detected.

How often do you clean your skylights?

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Topics: How-To Tips, Skylights