Condensation can turn wood windows black and make a mess of window sills. It’s a very common occurrence here in Colorado. The typical homeowner goes online to read numerous articles about how they must be doing something wrong with their humidity levels to experience so much condensation. In some cases, they have condensation forming, freezing, and melting all over the wood. They consider adding air exchangers with humidity control, throwing all plants out of the house, and telling the family to cut down on showering, cooking, and breathing.
As Colorado Springs’s experienced home inspection team, we would like to kindly inform you that all of those considerations are extreme. We have good news! You can minimize or prevent condensation on windows with a few easy fixes.
Common Causes of Window Condensation
Although it might look like an issue, moisture on your windows doesn’t necessarily indicate a problem. In fact, window condensation can be a sign that your windows are forming an airtight seal, reducing air leakage and keeping the moisture inside your home.
Most of the time, moisture on your windows is a matter of temperature and humidity. When the air is hotter and more humid on one side of the glass, moisture collects on the window panes.
In winter, condensation can form on the interior of your windows because it’s cold and dry outside but warm and humid inside. In the summer, it’s the opposite. You may see condensation on the outside of your windows in the morning from dew — just as it forms on your lawn. If there’s moisture inside your home, it’s likely because it’s become too humid indoors. Now, if you can’t easily remove window condensation by wiping the glass, the moisture is between the panes. And that’s a sign of a bigger issue.
How To Control and Remove Window Condensation
In homes, old or new, simple lifestyle changes that lower humidity and/or keep surface temperatures above dew point will be more practical and a less expensive long-term solution than installing whole-house ventilation systems. Fortunately, there are a number of things that you can do to reduce condensation on your windows.
Turn Down the Humidifier
According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the relative humidity in your home should always be below 60 percent. Ideally, you want it somewhere between 30 and 50 percent. It’s normal to be on the lower end of the range (or slightly below) during winter months.
Bathroom and Kitchen Fans
Use your bathroom and kitchen fans every time you cook or shower. Showering and cooking releases a lot of moisture into the air, and sometimes this moisture cannot escape from your house easily. The exhaust fans in your kitchen and your bathroom help remove this moisture from the air. You want to run the fans for about 15 to 20 minutes after you shower or cook.
Use Storm Windows
If you have older windows in your home, using storm windows during the winter months can help reduce condensation on your interior windows. The space between the two windows allows the interior window to stay warmer. Storm windows can also help reduce your heating bills during the winter. While storm windows themselves can sometimes have condensation, they do reduce the condensation on the interior windows, which helps reduce frost buildup. Condensation on the storm windows often indicates a leak in your interior windows, and you will want to check and/or reapply your weather stripping.
Getting Rid of Window Condensation on the Outside
Because it’s seasonal and climate-related, condensation on the outside of windows is quite common. It isn’t indicative of problems with your windows or the humidity inside your home. You can simply wait for the sun to come out and dry up all the moisture.
If the condensation on the glass is bothersome, try applying a water repellent to the exterior of your windows — you may have some in your garage already. Water repellent is commonly used on car windshields to help improve visibility in rainy weather. It can work in the same way to prevent condensation on house windows.
Colorado’s Total Home Inspection Team
Before buying or selling, or if you simply want a professional team, contact our expert home inspection team to look at every aspect of the home. We can help diagnose issues like condensation and look deeper to see if any mold has built up.
Staying on top of major condensation year to year by sanding and re-varnishing the area where the glass meets the wood can certainly help. People have also bleached them at times to get some of the mold out. In the end, it depends on your own threshold for humidity levels, and whether or not you can continue on with the wood windows or get them replaced with something more moisture-friendly.