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Allan Davis' Blog

By Allan Davis | Home Inspector in Louisville, KY

Question about skylight installation


Dear Elite Home Inspections


We have trees in front of our house that blocks most of the evening sun but my wife wants more natural light in the center of the house. We have decided to add a sky light to our living room, how hard are they to install in a ranch style home?



Dear Andy


Installing a full size sky light can be fairly complicated because it is necessary to cut a large hole install a large skylight on the roof, frame up a chase then drywall, paint and insulate it, but there are some new products I recommend you look into. They are called


“Tubular Skylights” and for as little as $250 you can install these skylights in existing attics yourself. You can purchase them at your local Home supply stores and install them yourself with limited skills and basic tools. They have a dome that goes on the roof and mirror finished tubes attach inside the attic and transfer the light to a diffuser you install in the ceiling and they transfer lots of natural light.


 Keep in mind you will need to work on your roof  to cut a round hole and install the dome shaped cover and properly flash it to prevent water intrusion. You will also need to work inside your attic to install the tube and light cover in the ceiling; as long as you can do these things comfortably you should be able to do the work yourself in less than a day.


 First you will need to check the roof and ceiling areas to make sure you will have the necessary room to install the tube and get the ceiling light diffuser where you want them, remember you can’t start cutting rafters and trusses out of the way without transferring the loads properly. The tubes on the skylights can be run in different angles to work them through any framework inside the attic. If everything works out mark the locations and start work. It is best to find the area you want the light diffuser and mark the ceiling with a small dot and find this general area inside the attic. I have always straightened out a coat hanger and carefully and gently push it through the ceiling going all the way in where the wire is visible above the insulation. It is always best to have two people doing this because of the potential of hitting electric wires or duct work. While you are in the attic you can just drive a screw through the sheathing and shingles and find it when you are on the roof.


Be sure to flash and caulk the dome good to prevent water intrusion and the instructions that come with the tubular skylight you choose will give you detailed directions on how to seal the tubes and connections to the diffuser and the dome part.


Before you cut the hole in the ceiling place a drop cloth on the floor to help contain your mess. Inside the attic sweep the insulation back and use a sheetrock saw or similar tool to cut the opening being careful not to cut it too large. The flanges on the light allows for some error but it is much easier to take a little more drywall out as needed than it is to make repairs. I see a lot of these installed and they perform very well, Good luck 

Allan Davis
Elite Home Inspections


By Wes Black,  Mon Jan 31 2011, 09:25
Now I know how to answer client's questions on skylights. Thank you very much.
By David & Samuel Rifkin,  Fri Feb 8 2013, 12:53
Thank you very much for this great information.


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