Depending on the area, winter is either here, or fast approaching. With winter comes a few homeowner concerns, one of which is window condensation.
At Centennial Windows & Doors, we’re experts in the windows and doors industry. Read on to understand window condensation so you can understand it (how it happens, what it can lead to) and avoid it or confront it if it’s already a problem.
How window condensation occurs
Condensation occurs when the inside of the home is warm and humid, and the outside (or the other side of the window) is cold and dry. The temperature of the window’s glass is usually at or below the temperature of the home’s interior when condensation forms.
Like a glass of cold water on a hot day, the outside of the glass will begin to drip due to condensation because of the two colliding temperatures. Sometimes clearing condensation is as simple as wiping it away. This is especially true for mirrors that have heated up from a warm shower or the cold glass of water example.
Not much harm can come from those. But problems start to arise with windows separating the cold outside from the warm inside, especially when those windows are double-glazed and attached to the trim of the home.
The risks of window condensation
There are three kinds of condensation on windows. There’s condensate that appears on the outside of the window, which isn’t a problem; condensate that appears on the inside of the window, which is a problem, as is condensate that appears between window panes.
In all cases, visibility is reduced. In some cases, there are more serious concerns.
Condensation on the outside is dew from the juxtaposing temperatures. Condensation on the inside likely means the humidity level of the home is too high. Excessive condensation on the interior of the home can lead to the growth of mold and mildew which can develop into a serious health problem. If the frames of the window are wood, they can absorb moisture and begin to deteriorate.
Once moisture appears, it can easily spread. Like spilling water on a wooden table, not only will the table begin to absorb moisture, but the water will also spread to the side, leak down the table, and reach other areas that should remain dry.
The same happens to the moisture on a window pane. It spreads and seeps into the trim, then the walls causing water damage, or at the very least, water stains.
Condensation between panes in a sealed unit is also a concern. This means that while you aren’t able to access the space between the panes, which is supposed to help with temperature control, the moisture can since the seal has been broken.
There isn’t a simple solution to this problem. Either the window will need to be resealed and the panes replaced, or, better yet, replacement windows are installed. If double-glazed windows are being used and the seal is broken, their purpose is defeated.
After all, they’re supposed to help with temperature and humidity control. If they aren’t working properly, it would be best to seek quality window replacements.
These are the risks posed by window condensation on the inside of the window or between the panes:
- Reduced visibility
- Excessive humidity levels
- Mold and mildew growth
- Material deterioration
- Water damage and water stains
- Loss of temperature control
- Defective windows
How to deal with window condensation
Reduce indoor humidity level
There’s nothing you can do about the humidity levels outside, so start with what you can control.
This includes everything from showering to cooking to laundry to using a humidifier in dryer months. A big contender in condensation is the indoor humidity levels which can easily be addressed in the following ways.
1. Use a dehumidifier
It’s unlikely we’ll stop all of the activities and chores that cause humidity, so, instead, use a dehumidifier to try and manage humidity levels without sacrificing your lifestyle. Don’t forget to empty the drip pan regularly to ensure collected moisture isn’t seeping back into the air.
2. Adjust your humidifier
In some households, it’s essential to use a humidifier in dry months. If this is the case for you, simply adjust the levels until it maintains a comfortable level for the household without creating too much condensation on the windows.
3. Circulate the air
Air carries moisture and stagnant air allows that moisture to settle into whatever material it’s landed on. Circulate the air using fans throughout the house, including in the kitchen when there’s boiling water and bathroom where warm showers cause plenty of condensation.
4. Move plants outside (if possible)
Plants produce moisture which only adds to the humidity levels in a home and the likelihood of creating condensation. If possible, move plants outdoors or at least give them “breaks” outside.
5. Maintain the right temperature
If the temperature in a home is unnecessarily high, the juxtaposition between the indoor and outdoor temperatures will be that much greater and cause much more condensation.
6. Use a hygrometer
A hygrometer displays the humidity levels in a home. It provides an easy update on the home so the owner can take action if necessary before it gets out of control. If the humidity levels are over 50 percent, start taking steps to lower it.
Ideally, if the outside temperature is below -18°C or 0°F the humidity level should be between 15 percent and 25 percent. If the temperature is between -18°C and 4°C or 0°F and 40°F, the humidity level should be between 25 percent and 40 percent.
Take action with replacement windows
When the double-glazed glass windows that were initially installed in your home aren’t serving their purpose, install replacement windows with Centennial Windows & Doors. This is a great idea for homes that don’t have double-glazed windows and those that suffer from window condensation.
These replacement windows come in a multitude of styles to fit the space and use the needed technology to last, improve energy efficiency, and properly manage indoor temperatures. Also, consider the following window replacement substitutes if that’s not an option for you right now.
Install weather stripping
Weatherstripping is a cheaper (and temporary) solution when replacement windows aren’t in this season’s budget. Weatherstripping uses strips that can be applied to windows and doors along their joints and frames to prevent cold air from coming through. It’s a good solution to save on energy bills since the furnace won’t have to overcompensate, and it will help with condensation.
Install windows that use argon or krypton gas
Similarly to storm windows, Centennial Windows & Doors creates double and even triple-glazed glass windows that use either argon or krypton gas between panes. These gases are heavier than air and improve the energy efficiency of windows by slowing heat transfer between the panes of glass which in turn reduces the likelihood of condensation.
Seal any cracks
Go around your home and inspect the windows and doors. Use caulking to fill in any cracks or openings that could be letting in moisture or cold air. This will prevent the nearby walls and windows from cooling and allowing condensate to form.
After understanding how window condensation forms, the different types, the risks, and how to combat it, know also that you can avoid it altogether by being proactive. The best way to avoid condensation is by installing replacement windows which are guaranteed to work and look good.
Other proactive methods include seasonal window and door checks. This is incredibly important to gauge the safety and efficiency levels of the home before a colder season hits. Preparedness is key.
Check all windows and doors for potential air leaks, wear and tear, discolouration, warping, or fogging. All of these are signs that action should be taken, ideally with window replacements.
Proactive maintenance not only prepares you for the upcoming season but also lowers future costs when done consistently.
Instead of having to fully replace all windows and doors all at once, regular maintenance might reveal that a couple of windows require attention while others remain effective. Do this to extend the life of your windows and doors while ensuring maximum energy savings. Centennial Windows & Doors can help. Get on top of the problematic windows in your home or get ahead of problems. Book a consultation with us today.