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At Columbia Skylights we build our skylights to be virtually maintenance free. Skylight maintenance should be included in your regular household window and roof gutter cleaning schedule. Review our maintenance guidelines for all glass and acrylic models


Maintenance Cleaning
  • Like any window, a skylight does require cleaning and minimal maintenance to ensure it performs optimally now and in the future.
  • We recommend establishing an inspection and cleaning schedule to ensure the skylight functions perfectly. Early spring and autumn are the ideal times. Check the lens (glass or acrylic) for clarity, dirt, scratches, cracks, and general aesthetic appearance. If you find a crack in the glazing (glass or acrylic) the skylight needs to be replaced immediately.
  • Typically a quick wash of the glazing and frame will suffice, – see below for specific instructions.
  • Caution:  Do not use a power washer as it could damage the skylight, flashing, or roofing material.
Maintenance Frame
  • Survey the frame for damage. Check the sealants, gaskets, flashing, and the roofing material surrounding the skylight for wear and tear. The condition of your roof is good indicator – if your roof needs replacing, this is the ideal time to update your skylights.
  • Check for loose retainer screws with a hand held screw driver (be as gentle as possible), and tighten if loose (do not use a power drill).
  • The flashing is made of thinner aluminum than the frame and is easily dented or scratched with overly aggressive cleaning. Read below for cleaning tips.
  • See below for interior frame and lightwell cleaning instructions.


To clean the interior glazing see the instructions below.
Cleaning Tools
  • Using a household bucket, heavily dilute a mild soap or detergent in water. Commercially available glass cleaning solutions can be used (check that they are safe to use on glass or acrylic).
  • Clean acrylic or polycarbonate with a soft cloth or sponge. Glass can be cleaned with a squeegee with a washing head attachment. Using light pressure wash the skylight.
  • We recommend cleaning on cooler days, as the soapy water will not dry as quickly causing unsightly blemishes. Rinse the soapy water off with clean water, and rinse as many times as it takes to remove all the soap residue. Before the clean water dries, dry with a damp cloth or chamois.
  • If you encounter stubborn grease, oil or roofing cement on the lens of your acrylic or polycarbonate skylight, use an Aliphatic Naphtha Solvent (with no aromatic content), Kerosene, or Isopropyl Alcohol to gently remove the blemish.
Maintenance Skylight Cleaning
  • Always take care of the skylight lens, glass or acrylic. Never use abrasive cleaners, or metal or plastic tools such as a knife or razor blade. Avoid the use of all solvents – Ammonia or Ammonia based cleaners, Glass Window Cleaner, Gasoline, Acetone, Carbon Tetrachloride, Lacquer Thinner, or Alcohol. They can damage the lens surface and the frame’s paint finish.
  • Avoid contact with silicon, as it is exceedingly difficult to remove from the glass, acrylic, or the frame.
  • Before your start to clean your skylight check on the maintenance and cleaning guidelines for your roof material: asphalt shingle, metal, low or high profile tiles, and cedar, or flat roof materials such as EPDM.
  • Remember that standing on most roofing materials can damage them, especially metal, tiles, or cedar.
  • Caution:  Caustic Soda and Trisodium Phosphate can cause skin irritation, wear gloves, and exercise extreme caution.


Maintenance Skylight Branches
  • Scratches in glass cannot be repaired, and are usually caused by falling objects such as a tree branch. Make a note of the scratch and review it during your ongoing regular inspections to make sure it hasn’t become a crack. If the glass is cracked Columbia recommends replacing the skylight immediately. Remove all overhanging tree branches (hire a professional arborist).
  • If the glass has been splattered with household paint, use white vinegar and baking soda combined with water to remove it. Soak the paint for at least 5 minutes and try to wash off with a non abrasive sponge. If the paint does not come off easily we recommend calling a professional.
  • Scratches on an acrylic dome or pyramid lens can be removed by gentle hand polishing. This is a delicate process and should only be undertaken if absolutely necessary. Apply a polishing compound such as Simonize cleaner on a soft cloth or pad. Once the scratch has been removed, wipe off the polishing compound residue with a damp cloth.
  • Paint splatter on acrylic can often be removed by applying a paste consisting of wallpaper paste and a 10-20% solution of Caustic Soda or Trisodium Phosphate and water. Rinse thoroughly with warm water.
  • Warning: Do not polish polycarbonate. Polycarbonate glazing is a soft material, and you should not attempt to polish out scratches. Polishing will scuff the surface. Do not attempt to remove any blemishes in the acrylic or polycarbonate material that are caused during the manufacturing process.


Cleaning Skylights Aluminium
  • Columbia skylights are painted with specially formulated durable paint, baked on for additional hardness. The exterior frame should only be washed with a small amount of mild soap or detergent diluted in water. Rinsed with clean water.
  • Do not use abrasive cleaners, steel wool, strong acids, and commercial cleaners where you are unsure of the chemical formulation. They can scratch, bleach, or cloud the finished surface. Do not assume a product that is labelled as a glass or plastic cleaner will not damage the skylight glass, acrylic or frame – test the cleaning solution on a less visible part of the skylights, such as the upper side corner.
  • We recommend using rubber gloves, regardless of the cleaner, to avoid skin irritation.
  • Avoid silicon touching the frame, as it will leave a blemish that is exceedingly difficult to remove.
Cleaning Skylights Aluminium Mill Finished
  • A mill finished aluminum frame will naturally weather over time, the aluminum surface reacts with air and water forming a thin layer of oxidization. This is normal and does not impede the performance of the skylight. We do not recommend trying to clean off the oxidation.
  • If you choose to clean the aluminum, abrasive cleaners will restore the aluminum finish to a degree, removing most dirt and grime. Abrasive cleaners include, polish, cleaner-polish, wax-cleaner, wax polish, metal brightener, and scouring powder. Test these products on a less visible part of the skylight before full use. Test how vigorous an application is required, and assess if the test is successful before proceeding.
  • The formulation of abrasive cleaners varies greatly and can contain oil, wax, silicones, soap, acid, and alkalis, which leave a residue. Abrasive cleaners can also contain fine grit or polishing agents and must be used with care on all aluminum finishes. Remove the residue left by the abrasive cleaner with water combined with a small amount of mild soap or detergent. Rinse with clean water.
  • For the ultimate result, the aluminum should be buffed evenly over the entire exposed surface. Columbia recommends hiring a professional cleaning company for this process.


Flashing Maintenance Brush

    Use caution as flashing is made from a thinner flexible aluminum than the exterior top frame, and can be scratched or dented.
  • With a soft bristle brush sweep away leaves and dirt build up. Use as little pressure as possible. On the side flashing, brush downward, so as not to damage or lift the overlapping sections.
  • After you have removed the dry material, use a hose to remove the remaining dirt and grime. Do not use a power washer as it can lift the sections of the flashing and the roofing material.
  • Take care not to bend or lift the folded corners of the flashing.
  • If your skylight is mounted on a flat roof, only clean the frame and lens of the skylights. Do not attempt to clean the roofing membrane (such as EPDM) without professional consultation.
Flashing Maintenance Spray
    As part of your regular inspections, check the flashing for wear and tear, especially damage that might have been caused in the winter by ice or snow build up.
  • Consult the maintenance and cleaning guidelines, or your roofer, for your specific roofing material: asphalt shingle, metal, low or high profile tiles, and cedar. Metal and tiles (low and high profile) are installed with different flashing from the more common asphalt shingles. Cedar has a similar flashing to asphalt. For metal and tile consult your roofing company before proceeding.
  • Be especially careful cleaning the Sill Flashing (at the downslope end of the skylight), as its edge overlaps the shingles and may be secured with nails covered in silicone. Do not bend the flashing, loosen the nails or remove the silicone.


Glass and acrylic (or polycarbonate) require different cleaning techniques.
Cleaning Skylight Interior 1
    Glass and acrylic glazing require different cleaning techniques because of the shape and type of material.
  • Inspect the interior glazing (glass and acrylic) as part of your regular maintenance. Check for cracks, dirt, and scruffs.
  • Glass: Glass is a flat hard material that can be cleaned with store bought glass cleaners – follow the instructions. It is not advisable to use detergent on the inside lens as it can dry and leave streaks.
  • If you are close enough to comfortably reach the glazing you can use store bought spray spray cleaner and a soft cloth.
  • If you cannot reach the glazing you will need to use a squeegee on an extension pole. We recommend a squeegee with the combined soft cloth washing head attachment.
  • Acrylic (or polycarbonate): The inside glazing of the skylight it is either a concave dome or pyramid. Wash with a mild soap or detergent heavily diluted in warm water. Use a soft cloth or sponge. If the skylight is hard to reach, use a soft cloth washing head on an extension pole. As squeegee will not work with the shape of the glazing. Rinse with clean water.Common to both Glass & Acrylic.
  • Beginning at the top of the skylight and working down.
  • Dry the glazing with a dry soft cloth to reduce residue streaking and spotting.
  • Do not use harsh chemical products on the glazing pane.
  • We recommend cleaning your windows twice a year.
  • Before starting, remove rings, watches, and clothing with metal buttons, to avoid scratching.
Cleaning Skylight Interior 2
    As part of the regular inspection review the condition of the lightwell, and interior skylight PVC frame.
  • Dust the frame and lightwell to remove loose dirt and cobwebs.
  • Wipe down the window frame using a soft damp cloth. Soak the cloth in warm water containing heavily diluted soap or detergent. Wring out excess moisture.
  • Wipe out the condensation gutters and check and remove dirt from the weeping holes.
  • If renovation or construction work is taking place in the vicinity of the skylight protect the frame and pane with a clean plastic sheet. This will prevent paint and wet drywall compound splashes, or damage from construction equipment, such as scaffolding or ladders.
  • Take caution: Avoid contact from silicone with the frame or pane. Do not use any cleaning products containing abrasive particles. Do not use harsh chemical products to clean the frame.
  • We recommend wearing cleaning gloves, as even a mild cleaning agent can cause skin irritation.


Maintenance Donts 1 Branch

Do trim back all overhanging tree branches to prevent dirt build up, scratching, and breakage. Falling branches, no matter how small, can cause damage. On a regular basis clean leaves and pollen off the skylight.

Do protect the skylight when work, such as a roof repair or house painting is taking place in the vicinity. Protect the pane with a clean plastic sheet to prevent any splashes or staining.

If work is happening close to the skylight make sure a protective barrier is installed to prevent walking on the skylight.

Do remove rings, watches, metal jacket buttons, or keys in your pocket, when handling the pane to avoid accidental scratching – anything heavy and sharp that can fall on the lens. We recommend wearing soft cotton gloves.

Do not let silicone contact the pane. Silicone is hard to remove from the lens surface and the frame, creating an unsightly blemish.

Do not use chemicals or harsh cleaning products containing abrasive particles, or abrasive cleaning implements such as a scrubbing brush, razor blade, or knife. Harsh products can scratch the lens surface.


Snow & ice

  • In colder regions, considerable amounts of snow and ice can accumulate on the roof and the skylight during the winter. Do not try to remove the snow with a snow shovel or heavy brush because it could damage or scratch the skylight glazing.
  • When the temperature rises, skylights will often melt first. It is important to make sure that water can drain from the roof to the surrounding gutters.


  • When condensation forms on the interior glazing of your skylight, it is advisable to frequently ventilate your home to reduce the interior humidity. Regularly clean the skylight’s interior frame condensation gutters and unblock weeping holes.
  • Limit the amount of humidity that causes condensation:
    – If possible, do not dry your laundry inside the house.
    – Close the doors of kitchens and bathrooms when in use.
    – Use the bathroom fan after showering and the vent hood while cooking.
    – Ventilate your home regularly for five minutes at least three or four times a day
    – If possible, maintain a constant room temperature of at least 20°C.


NEAT Glass

Consider NEAT Glass – Make Cleaning Easy

  • Columbia offers NEAT coating on all its glass, double and triple glazing. NEAT breaks down organic material such as dirt, making the glass surface easier to clean.
  • NEAT contains Silicon Dioxide to reduce water spots from rain by creating a super smooth surface that evenly disperses and evaporates water.
  • Titanium Dioxide decomposes organic materials like dirt, dust and tree debris on the glass through a reaction with UV sunlight.


NEAT Glass

FAKRO Service & Maintenance

  • Visit FAKRO’s website to review the Service and Maintenance guideline.
  • The centre pivot FTT and FTP-V roof windows can be 180° rotated to make cleaning the exterior pane easy.
  • The FPP-V top pivot roof windows – it is possible to rotate the sash through 180°, as you can switch from top hung to centre pivot at the flick of a button. The sash will open to 180° when set to centre pivot.


Columbia Manufacturing Co. Ltd. notes all INSTRUCTIONS ARE SUGGESTIONS ONLY, and We cannot take responsibility for unsatisfactory results. Maintenance and cleaning are beyond Columbia’s control, as such we cannot take responsibility and they should not be considered part of our warranty.

Click here to see our industry-leading warranty.