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  1. #1

    Window Condensation Question

    Hey all!

    A really simple, stupid question that I'm struggling to answer.

    We are getting a TON of condensation on the inside of our windows right now... enough that it is starting to damage the windows.

    Not sure, however, who to GO to for this. Like, what sort of service professional handles... I don't know, humidity? Windows?

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Sorry for such a focused and direct post... just a bit at a loss

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    New Jersey
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Hey all!

    A really simple, stupid question that I'm struggling to answer.

    We are getting a TON of condensation on the inside of our windows right now... enough that it is starting to damage the windows.

    Not sure, however, who to GO to for this. Like, what sort of service professional handles... I don't know, humidity? Windows?

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Sorry for such a focused and direct post... just a bit at a loss

    Thanks!
    Sounds like your existing windows don't have a good seal and are letting in the cold air from outside to mix with the warm air in the house. I think you need a window person, but they will probably recommend that you replace them. Not sure how old those windows are, but that's a pretty expensive and painful house project. On the flip side, it would probably save you in heating/air costs going forward and is generally a good investment.
    Rich
    "Failure is Not a Destination"
    Coach K on the Dan Patrick Show, December 22, 2016

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Washington, DC area
    This is what off topic is for!

    Is it all your windows or just some? Condensation ultimately comes from humidity on surfaces below the dew point - outside in summer in over AD’ed homes, inside in winter.

    If it’s all your windows, sounds like you may be just too humid inside.

    Do you have a whole-house humidifier that’s overdoing it? Do you have access to a dehumidifier to pull down the humidity?

    Do you have an air exchange system that’s stopped working?

    -jk

  4. #4
    Check out glass repair shop, perhaps you need to reglaze the windows.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Hey all!

    A really simple, stupid question that I'm struggling to answer.

    We are getting a TON of condensation on the inside of our windows right now... enough that it is starting to damage the windows.

    Not sure, however, who to GO to for this. Like, what sort of service professional handles... I don't know, humidity? Windows?

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Sorry for such a focused and direct post... just a bit at a loss

    Thanks!
    We have the same situation on a 25 y.o. home. The seals on the thermal windows have deteriorated and the windows need to be replaced.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    yes, I have been hip deep into window cogitations.

    Assuming your windows are double glazed, i.e. there is a layer of gas between the layers, right? If they are single glazed, one piece of glass only, there's your cold weather problem

    If you can see some "fogginess" between the panes, it means you have lost the seal between the windows. As someone suggested above, and many people do not know, you can simply have new glass put in your existing window, which is WAY less expensive than replacing a window. I've done this several times at my home...get a window all fixed up for $200 or so vs. multiple thousands for new windows. Essentially as good as new.

    IF you need new windows, do NOT go to the cut rate suppliers. Their windows are crap and will fail soon. Go to a highly rated manufacturer such as Marvin or Anderson. There are others.

    One other note: when people complain about new windows not doing well, (assuming they bought good quality windows) it is VERY important to note that you need a good, experienced window installer. A poorly installed window is a waste of money.
    We've gone to the local Marvin store where they install windows every day and know what they're doing. (we got to a separate glass company if we only want to replace the panes in our windows)

    I've seen Joe Schmo carpenters put in windows in a really sloppy fashion, you just don't want that.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by jtelander View Post
    We have the same situation on a 25 y.o. home. The seals on the thermal windows have deteriorated and the windows need to be replaced.
    or see my post above. If the seals are gone (very likely) it is very easy to have the panes replaced, with a new gas seal, for the fraction of the cost for a new window. Your local glass guy can do this. Glass companies routinely do this, not the window guys. Works great.

    Google it up...there are lots of web sites which discuss this. My windows are 35 years old, have only had to replace one window (which cost thousands and was worth it). We replaced the double panes only on several windows this summer, it was -10 yesterday, the windows are doing great, it cost only about $200 per window.

    I also replaced just the glass on several fixed pane windows (i.e. they don't open, just big glass) and it works great for them as well.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Atlanta 'burbs
    Ditto on the above window suggestions. And make sure that if you have a humidifier running, shut it off.

    Check the humidity level in your house. If it is high, get an appropriately sized dehumidifier. One benefit of a dehumidifier is that it generates heat, which partially offsets the high amount of electricity that it uses.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Greenville, SC
    One thing we all need to know is how many minutes it takes for each pane to start fogging after you wipe them clean.




    And now it's a thread about starting minutes. It's a rule.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by TruBlu View Post
    Ditto on the above window suggestions. And make sure that if you have a humidifier running, shut it off.
    Unless you need it running for say wooden musical instruments, like guitars. In which case you might want to move them to a windowless room.

    Quote Originally Posted by TruBlu View Post
    Check the humidity level in your house. If it is high, get an appropriately sized dehumidifier. One benefit of a dehumidifier is that it generates heat, which partially offsets the high amount of electricity that it uses.
    Keep in mind though that dehumidifiers need to operate above a certain temperature (low 60s) or they will tend to freeze up. Ours has a sensor that mitigates the issues with this, but it still freezes a bit. You can hear the clickety-clack of ice in there, and if you turn it off, it'll drip for a couple hours as the ice melts. [We have one in our basement, which gets to the low to mid 60s in winter, but still benefits from a dehumidifying appliance.]

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    WA State
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Hey all!

    A really simple, stupid question that I'm struggling to answer.

    We are getting a TON of condensation on the inside of our windows right now... enough that it is starting to damage the windows.

    Not sure, however, who to GO to for this. Like, what sort of service professional handles... I don't know, humidity? Windows?

    Anyone have any suggestions?

    Sorry for such a focused and direct post... just a bit at a loss

    Thanks!
    Lots of good advice above, but I have a few questions to hopefully sort things out a bit and correctly identify the concern. First, is the condensation inside two window panes (indicating a damaged thermal seal) or is it on the inside pane of glass on the interior face, assuming that the windows are double-paned? If they're single-paned, the former condition obviously won't apply. Second, assuming you've been at the same address for at least several years, has this occurred previously? Lastly, not prying, is the home a single family residence or multi-family structure? I count townhomes in this category as there are shared walls.

    Moving forward, I am assuming double- or triple-paned windows.

    If the moisture is occurring between panes, that's a pretty straightforward age-related deterioration. The advice above about getting the glass swapped out is a solid, fiscally feasible fix.

    If the second condition applies, it's time to look at indoor humidity. The ideal range for relative humidity is 30-50 percent. Get too much above that and you run the risk of fungal growth. This is the reason for the second question. It sounds as though this is a new adverse event rather than a constant condition that replicates over multiple years so we're looking for something that has failed that can increase indoor humidity. This can be as simple as a change in cooking styles (some cuisines have a lot more moisture released) to a bathroom fan that no longer moves sufficient air to a roof leak entering the wall assemblies.

    Off the top of my head, I would test: the bathroom fans by using double-ply toilet paper (2 sheets) to see if there is sufficient draw from the fan. Verify on the exterior of the home that the vent flaps are opening as confirmation that the vent pipe lines are unobstructed. Ditto for the kitchen vent fan. On the human behavior side, makes sure that the bathroom fans are used every time someone bathes. Kids are pretty lackadaisical about using the fans.

    Check the dryer vent line to ensure that it is not disconnected. If you haven't had the dryer vent line cleaned in a while, consider doing so. This is good advice for fire prevention, too.

    If the house is new, it may be very tight on air transfer. If so, there should be a ventilation fan of some sort to provide air changes. Many times, this will be on the furnace system. Check to make sure the timer is working if your home is equipped with a fresh air damper.

    Check for plumbing leaks - even a small leak can substantially raise indoor humidity. To test sink drainage for leaks, stopper the sink, fill it, and check on draining for drips. Physically touch the supple and waste drainage piping as you may not see a leak but can feel it. If you have vinyl flooring in the bathrooms, look around the commode. A purplish staining color in the vinyl would indicate a past or current leak at the wax ring. Don't forget the dishwasher plumbing and drainage and the water line to the refrigerator. Both are prone to leakage in hidden locations. Check the water heater, especially the temperature pressure relief valve. It might pop off and create a slow drip.

    On the exterior, check your gutter conditions - do they drain freely and does the flow of water terminate at least ten feet from the foundation? Is the roof in good condition? I would check in the attic for signs of water leakage and fungal growth as high indoor humidity can lead to issues in the attic spaces. If you have a crawlspace or basement, check for moisture there. If on a crawlspace, ensure that the vapor barrier (6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting is most common) is intact. Check caulking around window and door penetrations as failure there can introduce moisture. If on slab-on-grade, make sure that you have at least six inches of clearance from soil to the base of your siding.

    So, that's the starter list of possible sources for excess water/humidity.

    On the last question, if you live in a multi-family structure, you could be doing everything right but your neighbor doing everything wrong which will, unfortunately, impact you. In this case, a dehumidifier may be your only solution.

    As for professionals to deal with this, I would start with a company that specializes in indoor air quality or, my preference, a competent Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning (HVAC) contractor but after I verified the bathrooms and kitchen fans are properly operating and getting the dryer vent cleaned.

    Take care and I hope this gets resolved quickly for you!

  12. #12
    Hey everyone!

    Okay, thanks for all of the advice.

    For the windows, it is most of the windows in the house. It is PARTICULARLY upstairs, but downstairs as well.

    In terms of humidity, I just ordered a sphygmometer to check it out. We have forced air heat, so the house tends to feel rather dry... in fact, we've always run humidifiers at night in the bedrooms because it is so dry we all wake up with sore throats. Stopped running them a few nights ago though. There is a thing that adds humidity to the air, but only in the downstairs furnace, not upstairs. I just turned that down.

    Also instituted a "keep the bathroom door closed when you shower, and the fan on" rule, to see if that helps.

    The room it is worst in is my sons room. His room is part of an addition, and is generally a lot colder than the rest of the house. It is above the dining room.

    I don't think the windows are double paned. But the windows SEEM pretty nice, and fairly new and modern. The people we bought the house from six or so years ago were pretty careful and kept the house up, and they usually bought very high-end stuff. So I am not sure there are issues with the windows?

    I am nervous... I was reading, and they said that a lot of condensation can often cause moisture issues that can ruin windows (super expensive repair) and even create mold issues in your walls (even MORE expensive) so I am definitely panicking a little

  13. #13
    Ah, Ultra, I had the answer typed but didn't hit enter for a while... let me read your post. Thanks!

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Ultrarunner View Post
    Lots of good advice above, but I have a few questions to hopefully sort things out a bit and correctly identify the concern. First, is the condensation inside two window panes (indicating a damaged thermal seal) or is it on the inside pane of glass on the interior face, assuming that the windows are double-paned? If they're single-paned, the former condition obviously won't apply. Second, assuming you've been at the same address for at least several years, has this occurred previously? Lastly, not prying, is the home a single family residence or multi-family structure? I count townhomes in this category as there are shared walls.

    Moving forward, I am assuming double- or triple-paned windows.

    If the moisture is occurring between panes, that's a pretty straightforward age-related deterioration. The advice above about getting the glass swapped out is a solid, fiscally feasible fix.

    If the second condition applies, it's time to look at indoor humidity. The ideal range for relative humidity is 30-50 percent. Get too much above that and you run the risk of fungal growth. This is the reason for the second question. It sounds as though this is a new adverse event rather than a constant condition that replicates over multiple years so we're looking for something that has failed that can increase indoor humidity. This can be as simple as a change in cooking styles (some cuisines have a lot more moisture released) to a bathroom fan that no longer moves sufficient air to a roof leak entering the wall assemblies.

    Off the top of my head, I would test: the bathroom fans by using double-ply toilet paper (2 sheets) to see if there is sufficient draw from the fan. Verify on the exterior of the home that the vent flaps are opening as confirmation that the vent pipe lines are unobstructed. Ditto for the kitchen vent fan. On the human behavior side, makes sure that the bathroom fans are used every time someone bathes. Kids are pretty lackadaisical about using the fans.

    Check the dryer vent line to ensure that it is not disconnected. If you haven't had the dryer vent line cleaned in a while, consider doing so. This is good advice for fire prevention, too.

    If the house is new, it may be very tight on air transfer. If so, there should be a ventilation fan of some sort to provide air changes. Many times, this will be on the furnace system. Check to make sure the timer is working if your home is equipped with a fresh air damper.

    Check for plumbing leaks - even a small leak can substantially raise indoor humidity. To test sink drainage for leaks, stopper the sink, fill it, and check on draining for drips. Physically touch the supple and waste drainage piping as you may not see a leak but can feel it. If you have vinyl flooring in the bathrooms, look around the commode. A purplish staining color in the vinyl would indicate a past or current leak at the wax ring. Don't forget the dishwasher plumbing and drainage and the water line to the refrigerator. Both are prone to leakage in hidden locations. Check the water heater, especially the temperature pressure relief valve. It might pop off and create a slow drip.

    On the exterior, check your gutter conditions - do they drain freely and does the flow of water terminate at least ten feet from the foundation? Is the roof in good condition? I would check in the attic for signs of water leakage and fungal growth as high indoor humidity can lead to issues in the attic spaces. If you have a crawlspace or basement, check for moisture there. If on a crawlspace, ensure that the vapor barrier (6 mil polyethylene plastic sheeting is most common) is intact. Check caulking around window and door penetrations as failure there can introduce moisture. If on slab-on-grade, make sure that you have at least six inches of clearance from soil to the base of your siding.

    So, that's the starter list of possible sources for excess water/humidity.

    On the last question, if you live in a multi-family structure, you could be doing everything right but your neighbor doing everything wrong which will, unfortunately, impact you. In this case, a dehumidifier may be your only solution.

    As for professionals to deal with this, I would start with a company that specializes in indoor air quality or, my preference, a competent Heating/Ventilation/Air Conditioning (HVAC) contractor but after I verified the bathrooms and kitchen fans are properly operating and getting the dryer vent cleaned.

    Take care and I hope this gets resolved quickly for you!
    Holy cow... first off, thank you! Second... oh man, I'm terrified!

    I believe all of our windows are single pane... is that unlikely? I may have to look again. The moisture is on the INSIDE, not in-between anything.

    Actually, there HAS been a lot of moisture over the years. I always thought it was just because we had humidifiers running, but now it is looking that that isn't the case, since we aren't running them. So I am hoping that it isn't a recent break/failure that has caused this.

    I can check certain of the things you are talking about (for example, the bathroom fans) but some of it may be out of my realm of ability, as I wouldn't know how to do them

    We are a single family home.


    Can I ask, since you sound like you know what you are talking about... what sort of professional would I go to, to help with this? You seem to have covered many different areas (plumbing, gutters, windows) that would require multiple experts... is there a certain person who could check all of these? A mold/mildew person, maybe?

    Man. I'm feeling a boatload of anxiety now

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
    Location
    Vermont
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Holy cow... first off, thank you! Second... oh man, I'm terrified!

    I believe all of our windows are single pane... is that unlikely? I may have to look again. The moisture is on the INSIDE, not in-between anything.

    Actually, there HAS been a lot of moisture over the years. I always thought it was just because we had humidifiers running, but now it is looking that that isn't the case, since we aren't running them. So I am hoping that it isn't a recent break/failure that has caused this.

    I can check certain of the things you are talking about (for example, the bathroom fans) but some of it may be out of my realm of ability, as I wouldn't know how to do them

    We are a single family home.


    Can I ask, since you sound like you know what you are talking about... what sort of professional would I go to, to help with this? You seem to have covered many different areas (plumbing, gutters, windows) that would require multiple experts... is there a certain person who could check all of these? A mold/mildew person, maybe?

    Man. I'm feeling a boatload of anxiety now
    How old is your home? It is most unlikely that you have single pane windows unless unless your home is quite old, like 1970s or earlier. Look kind of sideways at the window, you should be able to see a gap between the panes.
    If you go to consult someone, DO exercise caution...find someone known to be trustworthy since lots of people will provide a lot more "fix" than is necessary. Get a handy friend to stop by and give his (or her) opinion.

  16. #16
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    WA State
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Holy cow... first off, thank you! Second... oh man, I'm terrified!

    I believe all of our windows are single pane... is that unlikely? I may have to look again. The moisture is on the INSIDE, not in-between anything.

    Actually, there HAS been a lot of moisture over the years. I always thought it was just because we had humidifiers running, but now it is looking that that isn't the case, since we aren't running them. So I am hoping that it isn't a recent break/failure that has caused this.

    I can check certain of the things you are talking about (for example, the bathroom fans) but some of it may be out of my realm of ability, as I wouldn't know how to do them

    We are a single family home.


    Can I ask, since you sound like you know what you are talking about... what sort of professional would I go to, to help with this? You seem to have covered many different areas (plumbing, gutters, windows) that would require multiple experts... is there a certain person who could check all of these? A mold/mildew person, maybe?

    Man. I'm feeling a boatload of anxiety now
    Deep breathes and don't panic!

    If you want one overarching person, look for an indoor air specialist. They'll have the tools and training be able to evaluate multiple possible causes. Most causes are very easy to correct without major costs involved. Since this a major stress point for you, I'd suggest following the recommendations above about the dehumidifier. It doesn't fix the underlying problem but will keep the humidity down while that gets resolved. Let the specialist know you have it running, though - they will probably want you to turn it off before they visit so they can better evaluate the conditions.

    Key take away: Don't panic. Please?

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Ultrarunner View Post
    Deep breathes and don't panic!

    If you want one overarching person, look for an indoor air specialist. They'll have the tools and training be able to evaluate multiple possible causes. Most causes are very easy to correct without major costs involved. Since this a major stress point for you, I'd suggest following the recommendations above about the dehumidifier. It doesn't fix the underlying problem but will keep the humidity down while that gets resolved. Let the specialist know you have it running, though - they will probably want you to turn it off before they visit so they can better evaluate the conditions.

    Key take away: Don't panic. Please?
    Okay. I will try to reduce my level of panic, despite visions of endless mold scrambling through my walls

    I am running a dehumidifier now. And I'll see about an air quality specialist (although I have to figure out what to look up for that!)

    Thanks again, I REALLY appreciate it!

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Rent free in tarheels’ heads
    Quote Originally Posted by Lord Ash View Post
    Okay. I will try to reduce my level of panic, despite visions of endless mold scrambling through my walls

    I am running a dehumidifier now. And I'll see about an air quality specialist (although I have to figure out what to look up for that!)

    Thanks again, I REALLY appreciate it!
    Look for indoor air/environmental companies. There are many. I’d bet most would come do a simple assessment and know exactly what to look for.
    “Coach said no 3s.” - Zion on The Block

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Dec 2016
    Location
    Raleigh,NC
    Do your thermostats not have a humidity value listed?

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    St. Louis
    Quote Originally Posted by budwom View Post
    How old is your home? It is most unlikely that you have single pane windows unless unless your home is quite old, like 1970s or earlier. Look kind of sideways at the window, you should be able to see a gap between the panes.
    If you go to consult someone, DO exercise caution...find someone known to be trustworthy since lots of people will provide a lot more "fix" than is necessary. Get a handy friend to stop by and give his (or her) opinion.
    I gasped when I read that a house 1970's or earlier is "quite old." Mine was built in 1920.

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