Needing to replace skylight glass is a typical skylight repair. There are a several reasons you may want to replace the glass. The most popular is the seals around the edge of each glass pane are past their lifetime and they allow moisture into the space between the inner and outer glass, causing the glass to “fog”. Another reason to replace skylight glass is the people using the space are not comfortable with either heat gain or glare from the direct light of the sun. Direct light feels hot on your skin and can make it difficult to see a computer screen.
Replace Skylight Glass Considerations
The process of replacing the glass is straightforward except for one item; matching the tint of the original glass. Even if you know the specifications of the original glass, which most people don’t, the glass manufacturer’s brand new glass may not match the old glass. We usually install a new higher performance glass tint which doesn’t match in appearance to the old glass as well.
Typically, when the seals fail, not all the glass looks “fogged up”. This leads many clients to believe they could replace just a portion of the glass and everything will be fine. Unfortunately, our experience and knowledge tells us that is not true. You may only see some of the glass that has moisture between the panes, but typically they all have lost their seals and the others will soon follow suit.
Additionally, in the process of replacing the failed glass, we disturb the neighboring glass panels when we remove the caps which can break the last vestiges of any seal that is there. So in our opinion, to save time, money and looks, it is a good idea to replace all the glass.
The glass industry has improved their product greatly over the years and there are many options to consider such as a frit design on the glass, translucent glass for diffused light, and lamination and coatings which helps block UV ray damage and heat gain, etc. They have also improved the seals around the perimeter so insulated glass will last much longer and be more energy-efficient. There are still some climates that use single layer glass, but with new energy codes and the increasing cost of utilities, insulated glass is now being used nearly everywhere.
Insulated glass units can be very heavy and needs to be considered in the process, especially if you are replacing single layer glass. Engineering of the existing structure and building is very important to avoid any long-term structural issues. Also, the equipment necessary to lift glass must be brought into consideration when the weight begins to exceed human capabilities. Usually a crane will save money because of the speed of the replacement is cheaper than the labor costs.
Other Glazing Options
One other option for glass replacement is to remove the glass and add an engineered polycarbonate “skin” over the existing structure. The polycarbonate product is gasketless for low maintenance, and is translucent which lets in a high quality diffused light. The product is lightweight and comes in a multitude of colors. It is a high performance product and in many cases exceeds glass in daylighting, heat reduction, insulation and lower cost.