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Window Condensation: Understanding What It Means

Window Condensation: Understanding What It Means

It’s almost that weather where energy efficient windows can affect your heating expenses by retaining more temperate air in your house while defending against the elements outside. However, you may start to notice condensation appearing on your windows and doors during colder months.

If you notice condensation on your window, don’t panic! It isn’t time to start diagnosing your window. The fact is, condensation on the inside of your windows—known as roomside condensation—isn’t a sign of a defective window at all. Just the opposite, it means your windows are working well.

So, what is leading to the condensation on your windows? And, more importantly, what kind of condensation should make you concerned about your window’s health? Here are the facts about window condensation:

Do my new windows or doors create condensation?
Some homeowners associate the sight of condensation in the months after installing new windows with possible problems during the installation process. Condensation on windows and doors is not caused by the window or door product. Actually, it comes because of high humidity levels in your house.

As it turns out, the sight of condensation more often than not is a result of the improved energy efficiency of your new windows. Air with more humidity retains water vapor until it comes into contact with a surface temperature less than or equal to the dew point—the temperature at which air becomes saturated and produces dew. Since glass surfaces are often the coldest part of the house, condensation appears on windows initially, in the presence of water droplets or frost on the roomside of your window. As the air inside becomes drier, or as the glass surface heats up, condensation begins to dissipate.

Many factors go into whether you might find condensation on your windows. You might even discover that a window in one part of your room has roomside condensation while a different one doesn’t. Air circulation, changes in room temperatures, air register location, and the type and size of the window can all influence the chances of roomside condensation. Even the glass type, window coverings and screens and proximity to a water source can all play a role in what levels of humidity can be noticed around a window.

Why do I occasionally see condensation on opposite sides of the window?
Your previous windows may have been drafty or didn’t feature the advanced, energy efficient elements of modern windows. Additionally, other home repairs, such as installing a new roof or siding, might also establish a tighter seal against air infiltration in your room. Due to that, your home may keep more humidity making condensation more likely to be seen than before.

In the heat, this same phenomenon can be observed on the outside of your windows. Exterior condensation can form because of high outdoor humidity, little or no wind, and a clear night sky. It establishes itself in the same way as roomside condensation, when the temperature of the glass is cooled below the dew point of the outside air. Since the cooler air inside your home isn’t leaving due to increased energy efficiency, it’s more likely to see external condensation in these situations.

You can manage exterior condensation by opening shades at night to warm up exterior glass and improve air circulation by trimming any plants that might be blocking windows. Adjusting the air conditioner a few degrees warmer can also improve the situation.

For roomside condensation, there are a number of factors that can influence the humidity in your house. Here are a couple of common culprits that can cause roomside condensation:

Sources of humidity in your home 

The most common way roomside humidity increases is through everyday home activities. Taking showers and baths, cooking and washing dishes, doing laundry, even the dog’s water bowl can all bring moisture to the air in your home–as much as four gallons or more per day in some homes. Add today’s energy efficient, well-insulated homes and you can start to get an idea why that humidity can often find no means of escape.

Due to this better insulation, some windows can build a strip of condensation that appears all the way around the roomside of the window. Usually, this occurs when the center of the glass stays warmer than the glass closest to the edge. It isn’t a warning that the window is leaking air or not functioning correctly.

Can Roomside Condensation Hurt My Windows?
One area where condensation on windows should become an immediate warning, however, is if condensation is noticed between the two sealed panes of insulating glass in multi-pane windows. In this instance, condensation is a result of seal failure and the insulating glass will need to be replaced.

More likely though, condensation on your windows doesn’t mean there is a concern with your windows. It serves as an indicator to the possibility of other hidden, potentially pricey problems to be found in your home.

igh indoor humidity can lead to structural damage and even affect your health. Because these effects frequently go unseen in the wall cavities, attics and crawl spaces, the visible sign of condensation on glass is a good signal that humidity levels are too high. And while window condensation and musty odors might be seen as nuisances, they can evolve into more severe concerns such as water stains on walls and ceilings if left unresolved.

In the same way, left unaddressed, condensation issues can cause window problems over time. Make sure to take chronic roomside condensation seriously. Think of it as an early alarm to high humidity in your home, one that can easily be dealt with before it gets more severe. Understanding condensation is just the beginning to keeping your home comfy and maintaining your windows. If you have any questions about condensation and whether your windows and doors are doing their jobs properly, give Pella Windows and Doors in West Springfield a call or come into the showroom.

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