RV skylights are a wonderful way to bring natural light into a space that can often be dark and uninviting. While RV skylights are generally quite durable, they definitely take a beating. Being exposed to extreme heat, extreme cold, hail, tree branches and more can leave your skylight cracked, faded, or cloudy. Luckily, replacing your RV skylight is a fairly simple task. Read on to find out how and what you will need to get the job done.
Preparing to Replace Your RV Skylight
The first step to replacing your RV skylight is to measure carefully and correctly. You will be working on the outside of the skylight, so you will need to access the roof of your rig in order to measure and complete the task. Skylight measurements are matched by :
The size of the hole in the roof
The size of the flange (the flat part that screws down to the roof)
Height, especially if there is an inner dome to clear
When ordering your replacement RV skylight, you can also order sealant specifically designed for skylights. Skylight sealants are a butyl-based compound that meets the specifications for EPDM roofs as well as fibreglass and metal roofs.
You will also need a screwdriver, mineral spirits or isopropyl alcohol, a putty knife and a rag to remove the old sealant. Don’t forget to wear gloves to protect your hands from the spirits or alcohol and any stray sealant. It never hurts to bring some extra screws up to the roof with you, to save you a trip back down in case any go missing.
Removing Your RV Skylight
Once all your supplies have arrived, it is time to get to work. Working gently, so as not to damage the roof of your RV, use your putty knife to scrape away the sealant around the base of the old skylight. Now remove the screws from around the base and pull out the old skylight. If there was butyl tape underneath the flange, use your putty knife to carefully remove this as well. Use the mineral spirits or isopropyl alcohol to clean along the edge of the skylight opening, underneath the flange, to remove any dirt and residue. Be very careful and use the spirits or alcohol sparingly, especially if you have a rubber roof.
Installing Your New RV Skylight
Now that you have removed your old skylight, it is time to install the new one. Using a sealant recommended by the manufacturer, run a thick, single bead of sealant on top of the screw holes and all the way around the skylight opening. Your new RV skylight may not have the same screw pattern as the original, which is okay. By sealing the original holes with the new sealant, you will avoid leaks and can create new screw holes where needed.
Place the new RV skylight on top of the sealant bead that you have just run over the screw holes. Gently wiggle the new skylight back and forth to flatten and spread the sealant. This will create a bond between the skylight and the roof. Once the sealant is spread, be sure to centre the skylight properly over the opening in the roof.
Fasten your replacement RV skylight to the roof with screws. As mentioned, the screw pattern may not match the pattern of the previous skylight but you can just create new holes. Be sure to tighten the screws firmly, but not too firmly to avoid cracking the skylight.
Finish the job with a bead of sealant around the edge of the new skylight, as well as each of the new screw heads. This will create a barrier to help keep leaks at bay. Let the sealant dry completely then check for any trouble spots. The sealant may shrink slightly as it dries and may require small touchups on the edge and the screw heads.
Maintaining Your RV Skylight
With proper installation and regular maintenance, your new RV skylight should last for years to come. Regularly check your RV skylight for wear and tear, as the sealant can become worn or cracked over time. A quick touchup or a replacement bead of sealant can save you hundreds, if not thousands, in possible water damage. Cleaning your RV skylight is best done with a mild soap and water solution using a soft brush to remove any dirt and debris.
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