Condensation refers to a natural phenomenon in which water vapor in the air turns into liquid upon contact with a surface. Dew forming on your lawn early in the morning, eyeglasses fogging up when entering a warm building after being out in the cold, and water droplets forming on a cold glass of water are some of the examples of this natural occurrence.
Even your home’s windows experience condensation, which becomes noticeable whenever the temperature outside drops quickly and creates a greater temperature difference between the indoor and outdoor air. That’s why many homeowners find it concerning especially when the colder months arrive.
In this blog, local window contractor STL Windows Direct discusses everything you need to know about winter window condensation and ways to address it.
How Window Condensation Forms
Warm indoor air tends to expand, allowing it to hold excess moisture. However, it contracts once it cools down. Excess moisture then becomes a liquid once the air reaches a cooling saturation point. This is what happens when warm air inside your home touches the cold surface of your window.
Condensation doesn’t not only occur on your windows’ glass. Warm air may enter the wall cavities via the Interruptions on your home’s vapor barriers, turning into a liquid the same way it does on your windows. This problem can be left unaddressed for some time because the signs are not evident to an untrained eye, resulting in mold growth and rot on your home’s wooden components.
Winter and Summer Condensation
Window condensation is seen as a detriment to the overall comfort and energy efficiency of your home. Fogging on the glass does make the window look unsightly, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t necessarily impact the functionality of the unit. If you have energy-efficient, multi-paned windows, the appearance of moisture means that they are performing as intended.
During the winter months, expect condensation to appear on the interior of your windows. It is a result of temperature differences inside and outside your home and should be easily wiped away by a clean cloth so you can see the outdoors more clearly. In contrast, summer window condensation appears on your windows’ exterior. Here, your indoor spaces are likely cooler than the air outside.
Window Condensation Between Glass Panes
There is one kind of condensation that you need to watch out for, especially if you have multiple-paned windows. Fogging in between the glass panes impacts the windows’ thermal performance due to broken seals around the insulated unit. Other than old age, factors that affect seal breakage include water retention in the frame and direct exposure to sunlight. As a result, the inert gas that fills the space between the panes either escapes through the gaps or settles to the bottom of the window.
Condensation between the glass panes diminishes the windows’ insulation, which is one reason why the glass gets cold in the winter. This problem is sometimes harder to detect, especially when the inert gas has dissipated over time. One way to know that you have this issue is if you are seeing a spike in your monthly energy bill. Unfortunately, there is no simple fix for this type of condensation. The entire window unit has to be replaced to restore your home’s energy performance.
Dealing With Indoor Humidity in Winter
Keep in mind that cold winter air is dry, and even if your home is well-sealed, the temperature change and the overall transition toward colder conditions can lead to a drastic drop in indoor humidity levels. Inadequate sealing, especially on your windows, causes cold air to enter your living spaces and reduce humidity significantly. Because of this, wood furnishings may sustain damage and static electricity may build up in your home. Dry eyes and skin, as well as respiratory issues like sore throat and nasal passages, are manifestations of this common winter concern.
Fighting the issue of condensation in your home depends on the amount of excess moisture you have inside your home and the condition of your windows and vents. Remember that the recommended level of indoor humidity this winter should be between 25% to 40%. A combination of fixes can help reduce the humidity levels, vent humid air out, and allow air to circulate inside your home properly. Here are some of them:
- Lower the Thermostat – Adjusting your thermostat down a degree or two helps maintain indoor comfort and decrease humidity and condensation.
- Keep Vents Open – Make sure that there are no furniture pieces or other obstructions near or in front of your vents to ensure air distribution and circulation.
- Let Fresh Air In – It might sound like a bad idea given the winter weather, but opening your windows and doors even for just a few minutes to let fresh air in can help reduce humidity levels and allow air circulation.
- Install Exhaust Fans – See to it that your kitchen and bathroom are vented to the outside of your home by installing exhaust fans. With these, humid air produced while taking a shower or using a stove to cook food can escape.
- Invest in a Dehumidifier – It is one of the solutions that seem to work well for everyone experiencing above normal condensation levels in their households. If you have new windows that experience condensation, a dehumidifier is your best bet to combating this problem.
To summarize, winter window condensation might be something that you can wipe off and forget about, but it is not to be taken lightly in the long run. Too much moisture on windows could result in water causing damage to the frames or the wall structure around them. Excess moisture can lead to mold, fungus, and rotting wood if left unchecked. It could also be bad for the health of everyone in your family.
For your window replacement needs, turn to STL Windows Direct. Our Smart 365 Innovations windows are engineered for the local weather and are measured and designed to fit each opening perfectly. With us, you get premium, high-quality windows for up to 40% less than name-brand windows. They also come at a competitive price point and are backed by lifetime and transferable warranties.
To learn more about our window products, give us a call at (314) 627-0805 or fill out our contact form to request a free estimate.