Do You Have Stinky Skylights?

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Fiber Bloom

Building managers and owners are typically surprised that skylight can stink, horribly, but have no idea what causes this unpleasant condition.

Fiberglass skylights are protected from the elements by a coating sometimes referred to as “gel coat”. The coating has a UV blockage component to help prevent the sun’s rays from damaging the fiberglass and causing fiber bloom. This coating breaks down over time, and when its lifespan is over, fiber bloom starts to occur.

Fiber bloom is when bacteria are able to get into the fiberglass, and start to break down the material and spread. It’s basically a bacterial infection for your building. Its unhealthy for the inhabitants of the building, and causes a very unpleasant stinky smell.

Detection of Fiber Blooming

One method of inspecting the skylight for fiber blooming is by running your hand across the surface on the exterior of the panels. If your hand picks up fiberglass and you see fiberglass particles in the air, then you know that you have lost the gel coat and immediate maintenance is required.

If you notice brown spots inside the panels or even notice an unpleasant or stinky smell permeating the air inside the building then the gel coat is gone and water has penetrated to the interior of the panels. The spots are bacterial growth spots, and the smell is from them breaking down the fiberglass. Replacement of those panels with a product other than fiberglass is recommended.

Fiberglass Gel Coat

fiberglass gelcoat repairUnfortunately the coating applied to the exterior of the skylights by the fiberglass manufacturers does have a short life-span and requires a regular scheduled maintenance. This time span varies greatly from manufacturer to manufacturer.

Fiberglass Skylight Inspections

Our experience has shown that the skylights should be inspected about every five years to insure that the exterior surface is in good condition and does not degrade too far. If the coating disintegrates it leaves the fiberglass strands exposed and allows water penetration. This should be avoided if at all possible, because it begins a process that is very difficult to return the skylight to its original condition. If caught soon enough a new layer of gelcoat can be applied that will extend the life of the product.

A warning sign of fiberglass breaking down is when the skylight emits a yellow light. This yellow light is bad for our health and typically our clients are tired of the feeling it gives.  They express the desire to replace the skylight in order to capture the blue light available from the sun. But if the skylight has become smelly, then it’s too late to save, and absolutely needs to be replaced.

Skylight Specialists, Inc., a Denver, CO company brings 35-years of commercial skylight repair experience to the table. We approach skylight repairs from a perspective that comes from decades of hands-on experience with problem skylights. From the smallest to some of the largest skylights in America.

Detailed information on our services and repair process.
Available for work in Colorado and coast to coast — It all starts with a simple phone call: 1-866-759-7732

Chase Bank of Loveland

Chase Bank of Loveland Hero

A Pyramid Skylight Retrofit Will Provide Improved Daylighting

The Chase Bank building in Loveland, CO has four low-rise pyramid skylights. The bank has experienced problems with these skylights over the years. Gaskets failing, condensation problems, and popping noises were a just few of the constant problems.

The biggest complaint, however, was the quality of the light and the heat from the sun. The light the skylights were projecting into the building was the number one complaint over the years. The longer the acrylic panels were in place the worse the yellowing of the light and the unbearable heat gain, especially on the second floor.

Going up to the second floor was like being an ant under a magnifying glass in the summer.
The Contractor

We discussed with the contractor and building owner the combinations of colors we could use to gain the control they were looking for. It was decided to use a blue polycarbonate outer layer with an interior layer of Ice White Matte. The Ice White Matte allows the light to be dispersed evenly across and down from each skylight.

A Daylighting Comparison: Yellowed Fiberglass vs. Translucent Polycarbonate

Lakewood Mall Retrofit with Quadwall

Los Angeles area mall reduces glare and daily energy expenditure with CPI Daylighting’s Quadwall® panels

Bright spots, dark patches and solar heat gain plagued suburban Los Angeles’ Lakewood Center for decades, causing a rise in the mall’s HVAC costs and energy expenditure. In 2010, the then 60-year-old mall began a 4-phase renovation over the next four years that would replace 42,000  square feet of ageing plexiglass skylight with CPI Daylighting’s Quadwall® panels.

The number one advantage of the Quadwall is that there’s an insulating factor between the outside and the inside, which helps the climate control inside the mall because the right temperature can be maintained using less HVAC, since the renovation, we’ve cut the run time of the AC units by four hours per day!

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

The skylights were installed 25 years ago when the roof was first put on the once open mall, but had leaked and cracked over time, holding a U-value of .73 when replaced. By contrast, the new CPI Daylighting Quadwall panels have a .22 U-value.

An assembly of two independent translucent insulated panels, the Quadwall system provides indefinite building envelope protection with its Removable Skin Technology (RST) that allows the exterior panel to be removed while still maintaining the integrity of the interior panel. Joined by a mechanically interlocking connection, the dry-glazed Quadwall system eliminates the need for vulnerable adhesives, adding durability, as well as even light distribution with the system’s tight-cell technology. Specified for Lakewood Center in 10 mm ice white matte exterior over 8 mm ice white matte interior, the two panel Quadwall system is an integrated, high-performance daylighting system.

With the Removable Skin Technology, we won’t have the same type of replacement challenges, plus the strength of the panel and the way it’s built makes a big difference too. In the long run, because of zero maintenance and CPI Daylighting’s warranty, costs should be very low on the maintenance side of it.

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

Scalable, the Quadwall system can be configured with additional insulation, UL-rated Class A or B fire rated roof assembly, sound reduction, dynamic shading, additional structural performance or even military forced entry resistance as well.

Today, visitors to the Lakewood Center enjoy an enhanced shopping experience, as high quality light streams through the new CPI Daylighting Quadwall panels.

I definitely see a difference in the way the interior light looks from the old skylight to the new Quadwall. It’s much brighter without any glare. Now, that’s what we were looking to achieve!

Scott Cleveland, Operations Manager, Lakewood Center, Lakewood, CA

Aluminum Free-Span Structures

Utilizing Aluminum in Green Applications without internal supports

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For archi­tects and custom­ers interested in green building, aluminum’s non-corrosive nature means the struc­tures are going to last and elimi­nate maintenance costs; saving mon­ey and imparting green benefits.

CST Covers
Grace Ferretti, manager of Architectural Sales for CST Covers, said, “We utilize aluminum as a material of choice and only aluminum in our structural solutions. The material’s extrudability, light weight, and strength make it the logical choice for exterior architectural ­applications.” CST Covers was formed from an acquisition of Conservatek and Temcor and is a “global leader in the production and manufacturing of covers for municipal, industrial and architectural applications, covering space creatively.”

Ferretti contin­ued, “For archi­tects and custom­ers interested in green building, aluminum’s non-corrosive nature means the struc­tures are going to last and elimi­nate maintenance costs; saving mon­ey and imparting green benefits.” CST Covers used aluminum with mastery to create the ethereal con­servatory dome at San Antonio, TX’s Halsell Conserva­tory

“The material’s recyclability is a huge benefit in green buildings,” said Ferritti. “Using materials with a high recycled content not only helps achieve LEED certification, but also means val­ue and green benefits at the structure’s end-of-life (which is years away), giving CST Covers’ leadership in innova­tive and lasting design.”