Tom Shafer

Is window condensation build-up normal?

March 02, 2016

Do you have moisture or maybe even ice forming around your windows? It might seem like a cause for panic, but it doesn't necessarily mean you need new windows. Here's what's going on with your windows and what you can do to help keep that condensation from forming.

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Why is there water on my windows?

Let's say you're in the middle of a hot, humid day, and you're craving some lemonade. You get a glass, fill it with ice, and then pour yourself a refreshing beverage. Before long, the glass is dripping water on your table. You know the glass hasn't sprung a leak -- it's condensation. Condensation forms on a cool surface when warm, moist air meets it.

The same thing happens to your windows. The glass surface of your window is being perpetually cooled by the exterior cold air during the winter. When the warm, toasty air inside your heated house touches the cold glass, moisture forms. If there is any air leakage, or if the glass is not energy efficient, ice may even be present.

How do I get rid of the condensation on windows?

Lower the humidity in your home. There are many legitimate reasons for keeping your home's humidity high, but the cost is moisture on your windows. Humidity in the home should not exceed 30% - 35%. Here's how to keep your home's humidity down:

  1. This may sound strange in the winter, but run your air conditioning a half hour or so each day. Air conditioning strips moisture from the air. Your interior humidity will decrease.
  2. Use a de-humidifier, or turn it down to keep moisture in the 30% - 35% range
  3. Promote air movement in the home and against the windows. This may involve running ceiling fans occasionally. Keep window coverings open, not trapping warmer air in the space between the covering and the glass.
  4. Always use an exhaust fan when using the shower or cooking food that requires boiling water.

What if my humidity is down but my windows still have ice?

Then it might be time to replace your windows with more energy efficient models. Windows with a low-e coating (or even several coatings) are more resistant to condensation. A local window dealer can help you decide if the benefits of energy efficient windows will prevent condensation in your home in particular. Call a replacement window dealer for a professional opinion if all else fails!

About the Author

Tom Shafer has decades of experience in window sales, marketing and product development. He's worked closely with window design engineers in testing, design, and building code interpretation. Past employers include United Windows and Doors and Norandex, MI Windows. He currently works at a home improvement retailer.

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