How to install a Solatube skylight: Mark and cut the hole in the roof and install the skylight flashing, dome and light tube.
This project is continued from How to Install a Solatube Skylight – Part 1.
Solatube Roof Installation
The screw that driven through the roof deck from inside the attic is located and a circle drawn in crayon using the Solatube flashing as a guide. Carefully observe the Solatube installation instructions to cut the hole 1/2 inch larger than the marked circle.
A 1/2 hole is drilled through the roof deck at the 7 o’clock position to start the saw blade. Take care not to cut along the circle, but 1/2 inch outside the circle.
The hole in the roof is cut with a sabre saw. Note to self: bring extra saw blades because the gravel shingles dull blades very quickly. I went through two (2) wood blades cutting this hole.
I’m missing a couple photos for the next steps due to the difficulty of working on the steep roof. For additional installation photos, see this excellent tutorial at deanwolf.net.
Install the Solatube Flashing
Per the Solatube installation instructions, use a pry bar to break the glue tabs of the shingles from the mid-point to the top of the hole, removing roofing tacks and staples as needed. The top half of the flashing will slide under the shingles but on top of the roofing felt. The shingles also need to be cut back about 3 inches from the mid-point and along the top arc to make room for the curb of the flashing.
Before applying roof sealant to the underside of the flashing base, do the following:
1) Dry fit the flashing to ensure the path is clear under the shingles and the shingles are cut back enough to center the flashing over the hole.
2) Test fit the top tube assembly to verify clearance through the hole in the roof and adjust the flashing position if needed.
3) Mark the bottom edges of the flashing on the roof with a crayon to quickly and precisely realign the flashing for final installation after the roof sealant is applied.
A bead of GeoCel® 3300 Polyurethane Sealant that came in Solatube kit is applied with a caulk gun to the underside of the flashing. The GeoCel product is “Miami-Dade County approved for hurricane-tough adhesion”.
The Solatube flashing is installed and fastened with eight 2 inch screws. The head of each screw head is sealed with the GeoCel 3300 roof sealant. I also applied a bead of caulk along the outside edge of flashing and underneath the shingles.
Next the top tube assembly is fitted and the adjustable knuckle rotated to align with the bottom tube assembly in the bedroom ceiling.
An “Attic & Weep Seal Kit Instructions” in a separate package from the main instruction booklet. The foam attic seal must be inserted into the rim of the top tube assembly at this point before fastening the four screws. I discovered this package after I’d already come down from the roof. I had make another trip onto the roof, remove the dome and top tube assembly to install the foam seals.
Remember to peel off the protective plastic liner inside tube before installing the dome.
The fully assembled Solatube 290 DS (14 inch) skylight.
This is the top- and bottom tube assemblies at this stage of the project. The bottom assembly is only temporarily installed such that the knuckle on the top assembly could be adjusted.
The smaller end of the 16 inch extension tube is inserted inside the bottom tube assembly and taped. Next, the expansion joint seal is taped to the end of the extension tube as shown below. The expansion joint seal is a single-sided tape with a brush-like material on the outer surface. The purpose of the expansion joint seal is to seal out bugs and dust when the bottom tube is inserted into the roof top tube assembly. The bottom tube assembly is test fitted with the top tube in the roof and the knuckle rotated to achieve proper alignment. (I didn’t need the second 16 inch extension tube that came with the kit.) Finally, the bottom assembly inserted through the ceiling into the top tube at the roof and fastened to the drywall ceiling using the built-in “old work” style mounting screws and wings.
The glazed diffuser lens simply snaps in place. This photo was taken at night because it’s too bright to photograph it during the day.
The Solatube 290 DS (14 inch) at work in the morning. The photo taken at 9AM doesn’t quite convey the full brightness the skylight brings to the entire room. I’m very pleased with the improvement!
The neat thing is at 4PM the skylight produces strong sunlight because I positioned the dome reflector to face southwest to capture the afternoon sun at a time when it doesn’t shine in the windows.
You can just see the Solatube skylight between the dormers in this photo. The ladder isn’t for getting on the roof, rather it’s to retrieve items I’d dropped from the rain gutter! Working with a helper on the ground, I used a rope and 5 gallon plastic bucket to ferry tools and materials from the driveway to the roof.
Solatube Installation Advice
- Solatube Skylight – a high quality and easy to install product.
- A good project for the Do-It-Yourselfer if working on a low pitch roof.
- If working on a steep and dangerous 10/12 pitch like mine, I’d hire a professional.
- My poor-man’s roofing shoes worked great, but only for casual work. The foam soles were nearly worn out after the job. Without them, I could not have climbed the roof.
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