How to Reduce Condensation on Your Windows
Don’t let the fog set in.
Have you noticed that the windows in your home are continually fogging up? Does it seem like they are collecting moisture? This isn’t necessarily your windows’ fault. In fact, window condensation may be an indicator of something entirely different.
Do windows cause condensation?
No. Windows do not cause condensation. But, windows are often the first place where condensation can be seen. Think about it. You’re probably not surprised or concerned when your bathroom mirror becomes fogged. You expect it after a hot shower. Your car windows fog up in humid weather or in winter when you have several passengers. These are just a few examples. And although condensation usually occurs in cold weather, it can occur during humid months when the air conditioning is running. The mirror doesn’t cause the condensation. The car windows don’t cause it either. These are just the first places you actually see condensation. The same is true for the windows in your home.
What does cause condensation?
Condensation forms when warm, humid air contacts a cold surface. Moisture is in the air all around us. Warmer air can hold more moisture. As air cools, it contracts (just as people pull their arms and clothing tight around them when chilled) and moisture condenses. When the temperature drops, the first place you will see any condensation is on the windows. this is because our windows are the coldest surfaces indoors. During colder months, indoor air is much warmer and holds more moisture than outdoor air, which is colder and dry. Warm, humid indoor air cools and contracts as it contacts the cooler windows, and the moisture condenses on the glass.
Why is indoor air so humid?
The most common cause of indoor air humidity is everyday living. Things like showers, baths, cooking, washing dishes, doing laundry and cleaning all add moisture to the air in your home, as much as four gallons or more per day in some homes. We even exhale moisture into the air as we breathe. Indoor humidity can also be caused by home construction. Today’s energy-efficient, well-insulated homes help us hold down heating and cooling costs, but the same things that block outdoor air from entering our homes also keep moisture from venting to the outdoors.
I have condensation on my double-glazed windows. Is it bad seals or indoor humidity?
Before calling for repair service, try this easy test. Run your finger through the area where the condensation is formed. If your finger gets wet and leaves a trail through the condensation, it’s on the room side of the glass. That tells you that condensation is forming because of excessive indoor humidity. And here’s another tip. If more than one window is showing condensation, it’s extremely unlikely that the seals are bad on all of the windows. It’s probably indoor humidity.
I didn’t have condensation problems with my old windows. Why now?
If your old windows were drafty, those cracks did more than just let in the wind; they allowed excess moisture to escape outdoors. Your new windows are better insulated, so indoor humidity can’t escape. Windows do not cause condensation and, at the same time, can’t eliminate condensation.
What kind of problems can humidity cause?
Health problems. Mold and mildew thrive in moist areas with plenty of organic material, such as wood, plaster and some types of insulation. Many types of molds – and there are thousands – easily become airborne (it’s often their means of reproduction). When inhaled or ingested, molds are known to cause local or systemic allergic reactions, sinus and nasal irritations and infections, chronic respiratory problems, dizziness, lethargy, and trigger attacks in people with asthma.
Structural damage. Because humid indoor air tends to be under higher pressure than outdoor air, indoor air constantly pushes its way outward to the area of lower pressure right through wood, plaster, insulation, and concrete. This process can cause insulation to deteriorate, paint to blister and peel, unsightly stains on walls and ceilings, rotting of floors, wall supports and other structural supports including foundation damage.
How can we reduce indoor humidity?
1. Increase ventilation.
- As a temporary solution to an acute problem, open a window in each room for just a few minutes, letting stale, humid air escape and fresh, dry air in. Your heat loss will be minimal.
- Vent all gas burners, clothes dryers, etc., to the outdoors.
- Install kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans to draw steam outdoors.
- Keep attic vents open and clear.
- Install storm windows to keep interior glass warmer.
- If you’re an indoor plant lover, group them in one sunny room and avoid over-watering.
- Waterproof basement floors and walls. Run a dehumidifier if needed.
- Insulate under the seat and head of bay and bow windows where condensation forms to keep window glass warmer. Run an electric fan near the window to help air circulation.
2. Control indoor moisture.
Set your humidifier at the level recommended below for winter temperatures:
INSIDE RELATIVE HUMIDITY
Indoor humidity can be checked with a humidity monitor or regulated with a humidistat, available at most building supply stores and home centers.
Is condensation more likely in certain climates, types of homes or windows, or times of year?
Yes. It’s more likely to occur:
- In areas where January temperatures average 35° F or less.
- In summer and fall, when homes pick up moisture from damp air. In fall, when the heating season begins and windows are closed, indoor air picks up the moisture. For the next week or two, temporary condensation is likely.
- On the outside of your windows. This usually happens when it is hot and humid outside and is called reverse condensation. When the air is cooler inside your home, it makes the surface of the glass cooler than the dew point. Plants around your window can increase the chance of having reverse condensation. You are also more likely to see it on clear nights when there is little or no wind.
- With sharp, quick drops in temperature, creating temporary condensation problems.
- For one year after construction or remodeling, while building materials dry out. Building materials hold a massive amount of moisture. Condensation should be expected through the
first heating season.
- On bay or bow windows, where air circulation is often restricted and windows tend to be a few degrees cooler since they project out from the insulated house wall.
- When drapes are closed and shades are pulled down. Today’s heavily insulated drapes and tighter shades restrict air fl ow over window glass and can contribute to condensation problems.