Tarping a Leaking Skylight

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Things You'll Need

  • Ladder

  • Tarp

  • Scissors

  • 2-by-4-inch boards

  • Hand saw

  • Roofing nails

  • Hammer

  • 3 1/4-inch nails

Tarps temporarily stop skylight leaks.
Image Credit: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images

Skylights come in a multitude of shapes and sizes and allow natural light into the home. While skylights typically endure for long periods, they can fail and develop leaks. Leaks are due to small cracks caused by an object hitting the skylight, or a deteriorating seal around the edges. No matter the cause, you can stop the leak from penetrating into the home by covering it with a tarp. Tarps are a temporary measure until you can repair the skylight.


Step 1

Position a ladder in an even area of ground next to the roof of the home. Ask another person to hold the ladder steady while you climb up onto the roof carrying a tarp.

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Step 2

Walk carefully over to the area of the skylight and kneel down next to it. Unroll the tarp to the width of the skylight plus an additional 4 feet so it overlaps it. Carry the top edge of the tarp up to the peak of the roof and hang it over the top edge by at least 2 feet. This prevents rain water from hitting the top of the roof and draining down into the tarp. The bottom of the tarp should reach the roof eaves.


Step 3

Cut a 2-by-4-inch board using a hand saw so it is 2 feet longer than the width of the skylight. Insert the board under the top edge of the tarp and roll the board under it until the tarp wraps securely around the board. Insert roofing nails into the board every 4 to 5 inches with a hammer to secure the tarp to the board.


Step 4

Place another identical 2-by-4-inch board on top of the tarp-covered one and insert 3 1/4-inch long nails through the board every 6 inches using a hammer so the nails penetrate the roof.

Step 5

Insert two more boards at the base of the tarp in the same manner to hold it down below the skylight. Secure the tarp to the fascia or the eaves.


Step 6

Place additional 2-by-4-inch boards along the sides of the tarp and nail them into place using 3 1/4-inch nails and a hammer to hold both sides down.


The tarp should consist of six-mil polyethylene sheeting.


Do not step on the tarp while you are on the roof since it is a slipping hazard and you may fall.

Never attempt to tarp a leaky skylight during a thunderstorm.


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