Window Condensation – Causes & Remedies

window condensation with autumn leavesIt’s that time of year! The leaves are changing color, the mornings are cooler and here in the Northwest our windows begin to get foggy. Window condensation can be anywhere from mildly annoying to outright damaging to our homes. Beyond the obvious fogging of windows, the moisture can cause wallpaper to peel, damage plaster and even lead to serious issues with mold and the resultant health hazards to occupants.  Fall and winter typically mean more indoor activities, warmer room temperatures and greater differences between inside and outside temps.

Skylight Windows for Your Home Can Help Reduce Mold.

First, let’s look at the cause of this annual phenomenon. Without getting too technical, the problem is excess moisture, which occurs due to a variety of factors. For example, excess moisture is the condensation that occurs on the bathroom mirror when someone takes a shower. Throughout the rest of the home, the causes may vary (and have a cumulative effect), but the result is the same. One cause of moisture buildup is the occupants of the home. Yes, that’s right, you contribute to the problem. A typical family of four will produce up to 112 pints of moisture a week with normal activities.  Add to that the modern building codes with increased insulation and efficient construction materials and you have a recipe for potential trouble.  Plants and pets are also contributors to the problem. As mentioned earlier, the increased insulating effects of modern construction techniques and materials will trap the warm, moist air inside. When it contacts the cooler surface of the windows (due to cooler outside temperatures) it causes condensation.

So, what can you do about this condensation? Since you can’t stop breathing, showering, or cooking let’s look at some practical steps to take. Depending on the age of the home and your budget, you may want to consider adding storm windows (on older homes) or purchasing a dehumidifier. One easy way to combat the condition is to always have the bathroom fan on when showering and the exhaust fan on your stove when cooking. You can also use ceiling fans to circulate the air, setting them to move counter-clockwise to push warm air off the ceiling. You can also consider a shower door and enclosure design that minimizes maintenance and reduction of mold.  Another no-cost option is to open a window. By opening the window you will allow the warm air to escape and cooler air to enter, thus balancing the moisture content. Raising the room temperature will also remove the moisture over time. As the room warms, the window surfaces will warm up and the moisture will evaporate. For homes with an aquarium, cover the tank to minimize evaporation of the water.

As you can see, the cause of window condensation in the home is excess moisture, which has a number of contributing factors. Fortunately, there are some no-and-low-cost steps anyone can take to help minimize the problem. Living in the Evergreen State has its many benefits, but foggy windows is not one of them!


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