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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 impact your heating expenses by retaining more temperate air in your home while keeping the elements outside. However, you may start to see condensation settling on your windows and doors during colder months.

If you see condensation on your window, don’t panic! It isn’t time to start looking for something wrong with your window. As a matter of fact, 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 being efficient.

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

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

In reality, the sight of condensation more often than not is an indication of the improved energy efficiency of your new windows. Air with high 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. Due to the fact that glass surfaces are most likely the coldest part of the home, condensation shows up on windows more frequently, in the form 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 disappear.

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

Why do I sometimes see condensation on opposite sides of the window?
Your previous windows could have been drafty or didn’t feature the advanced, energy efficient elements of today’s windows. Additionally, other home repairs, such as building a new roof or siding, might also create a tighter seal against air infiltration in your room. Due to that, your home may retain more humidity making condensation more likely to happen than before.

In the warmer seasons, this same phenomenon can be observed on the outside of your windows. Exterior condensation can form as a result of high outdoor humidity, little or no wind, and a clear night sky. It grows 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 leaving due to increased energy efficiency, there’s a greater chance to see external condensation in these situations.

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

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

Sources of humidity in your home 

The most common way roomside humidity increases is through everyday living. 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–topping out at four gallons or more per day in some homes. Factor in today’s energy efficient, well-insulated homes and you can start to understand why that humidity can often find no way to escape.

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

Can Roomside Condensation Ruin My Windows?
One place where condensation on windows should become an immediate issue, however, is if condensation is noticed between the two sealed panes of insulating glass in multi-pane windows. In this case, condensation is a sign of seal failure and the insulating glass should be replaced.

More often than not though, condensation on your windows doesn’t mean there is a concern with your windows. It serves as an alert to the possibility of other unseen, potentially pricey problems elsewhere in your home.

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

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 warning to high humidity in your house, one that can easily be resolved 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 working properly, give Pella Windows and Doors in Petoskey a call or come into the showroom.

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