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Window Condensation: Understanding What It Means

Window Condensation: Understanding What It Means

It’s almost that time of year where energy efficient windows can improve your heating expenses by retaining more temperate air in your home while keeping the elements outside. However, you may start to find condensation gathering on your windows and doors during colder months.

If you find condensation on your window, don’t worry! It isn’t time to start investigating 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. Instead, it means your windows are working well.

So, what is creating the condensation on your windows? And, more importantly, what signs of condensation should cause concern about your window’s stability? Here are the facts about window condensation:

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

In reality, the presence of condensation more often than not is a result of the better energy efficiency of your new windows. Air with high humidity keeps water vapor until it connects 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 most likely the coldest part of the room, condensation can be seen on windows more frequently, in the presence of water droplets or frost on the roomside of the house’s window. As the air inside gets drier, or as the glass surface becomes warmer, condensation begins to dissipate.

Numerous factors go into whether you might see condensation on your windows. You might even notice 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 impact the presence of roomside condensation. Even the glass type, window coverings and screens and proximity to a water source can all have an impact on what levels of humidity appear around a window.

Why do I at times see condensation on opposite sides of the window?
Your previous windows could have been drafty or didn’t feature the advanced, energy efficient technology of modern windows. However, other home repairs, such as adding a new roof or siding, might also build a tighter seal against air infiltration in your house. As a result, your home may keep more humidity making condensation more frequentl than before.

In the summer months, this same phenomenon can be observed on the outside of your windows. Exterior condensation can gather 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 cools below the dew point of the outside air. Since the cooler air inside your house isn’t escaping due to increased energy efficiency, it’s more likely to see external condensation at times like these.

You can manage exterior condensation by opening curtains at night to warm up exterior glass and improve air circulation by removing any bushes that might be interfering with windows. Setting the air conditioner a few degrees warmer can also help.

For roomside condensation, there are a few factors that can impact the humidity in your room. Here are a couple of common culprits that can lead to roomside condensation:

Sources of humidity in your home 

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

As a result of this better insulation, some windows can have a strip of condensation that forms all the way around the roomside of the window. Most often, this occurs when the center of the glass stays warmer than the glass closest to the edge. It isn’t an indication that the window is leaking air or not functioning correctly.

Can Roomside Condensation Damage My Windows?
One place where condensation on windows should become an immediate concern, however, is if condensation is seen 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 should be replaced.

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

igh indoor humidity can eventually cause structural damage and even upset your health. Because these effects frequently go unseen in the wall cavities, attics and crawl spaces, the visible indication of condensation on glass is a good clue that humidity levels are too high. And while window condensation and musty odors might be seen as bothersome, they can develop into more severe concerns such as water stains on walls and ceilings if left unchecked.

In the same way, left unaddressed, condensation issues can mean window problems over time. Make sure to take reoccurring roomside condensation seriously. Think of it as an early alert to high humidity in your room, one that can easily be resolved before it gets more severe. Understanding condensation is just the beginning to keeping your home cozy 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 Traverse City a call or come into the showroom.

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