How to Avoid Disastrous Waterproofing Mistakes in Skylights & Overhead Glazing Systems “Before” It’s Too Late

Waterproofing Principles of Skylights & Overhead Glazing Systems

Are you looking to add a skylight or an overhead glazing system to your project? Are you aware of the costly and dangerous pitfalls associated with design, fabrication and installation of skylight and glazing systems? Unless you’re dealing with a qualified expert in all facets of the systems from the design through the installation, the system could fail miserably and here’s why…

In the 30 years in which I have been working in the skylight and daylighting industries, the single most important factor in the design, fabrication and installation of any overhead daylighting system is the ability of that system to resist uncontrolled water penetration.

The misconception of most designers when including a skylight or overhead daylighting system into their building is that you are designing a “waterproof” glazing system. There is no such thing.  Stay with me and I'll explain.

Did you know that "all" overhead daylighting systems will experience some form of water penetration during its normal life? Yes, it’s true… and this sometimes takes place immediately after installation, due to an oversight regarding the conditions surrounding the system. It can also occur many years after installation due to deterioration within the components of the system.

The secret to dealing with water penetration is providing a system that has a redundant drainage system incorporated as part of its design which can control the penetration. This drainage system will allow for the collection of any water infiltration and drainage back to the exterior. This type of drainage system is commonly referred to as a “weepage system.”

Systems that do not have this design incorporated into them are doomed to disaster. Additionally, there are different typed of weepage systems associated with different types of daylighting systems. The weepage system of a vertical window wall will not work in an overhead daylighting application. The whole principle of drainage in an overhead daylighting application is totally different that that required for vertical glazing. This is why window wall systems are not recommended for use as skylights.

Unfortunately, many designers, fabricators and installers are ignorant to, or ignore this principle and furnish just that, a vertical window wall in a sloped application. The results are disastrous, ninety percent of the time the systems fail and can never be repaired. That’s because it is being used in an application for which it was never intended.

These are just a few of the many factors that contribute to a systems’ ability to resist uncontrolled water penetration. To fully understand and design around these factors for a specific project, consult a qualified firm with a proven track record, such as Atlantech Systems. We specialize in any discipline that you are including within your design.

For more information or to request literature about skylights, overhead glazing systems and “one of a kind” custom specialties contact Atlantech Systems HERE.

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