Imagine you’ve just had replacement windows installed in your home. No question, they’re a vast improvement over your old, drafty windows. Your home looks and feels better than ever. Your family is comfortable. Your wallet isn’t strained by excessive costs. You’re satisfied with the quality of the product and the service you received. Everything is going great.
Then you notice something.
You peer closer to your new replacement windows and see something in the corner and along the edges. You fear it might ruin your day—or worse, your beautiful new windows! It’s condensation.
You may wonder, “Did I make a mistake investing in new windows?” Before making any judgement calls, read on to see what might be causing that interior condensation – and some simple steps you can take to quickly resolve the issue.
Older, drafty, or ill-fitting windows allow unwanted air to flow into your home, and cooled or heated air to escape. Expertly installed, custom built windows like those by Champion seal your home much more tightly. The air that used to slip out of your windows is now comfortably sealed within your home, and along with it, any excessive humidity. Although eliminating drafts is a desirable feature that keeps you comfortable and helps you save money on your energy bill, you’ll likely need to adjust your home’s humidity levels to accommodate your more tightly sealed home.
Humidity—or moisture levels—in your home can vary. The moisture content of the air inside your home is both the cause and cure of window condensation. Even high quality insulated vinyl replacement windows often have the lowest temperature of any interior surface of the house, so condensation occurs there first. Because cooler air (air that comes into contact with the window surface) holds less water, condensation appears on the replacement vinyl window, the location of the cooler air.
Interior or “Winter” Condensation
As winter temperatures set in and you begin using your heat, you may see condensation form on your new windows. When warm, moist air comes into contact with cooler surfaces, the moisture condenses. The cooler air surrounding cooler surfaces can’t hold as much moisture as warmer air, and the result is condensation.
Exterior or “Summer” Condensation
In the spring and summer, the reverse happens. Dewpoints, humidity and glass temperature can all be factors in “summer condensation.” Exterior condensation is temporary, typically evaporating as the days wear on. It won’t affect the interior of your home. When you spot exterior condensation on your windows on those rare days, take it as a reassurance that your replacement windows are doing their job: keeping your heating and cooling in your home where it belongs—and saving you money.
Remodeling or new construction
There is a lot of moisture in the wood, plaster and other building materials of a new home or remodel. When you begin using your heat, this moisture will gradually flow out into the air in the home causing the humidity level to rise and condensation to occur. When the moisture has evaporated, the condensation will also disappear.
You’d be surprised at the many different sources of excess moisture in your home. Even pets and houseplants contribute. Here’s a quick rundown of potential sources of excess moisture in your home:
- Cooking food, using the sink, and running the dishwasher
- Showers, hot tubs and spas
- Washers and indoor-vented dryers
- Moisture in basements and crawl spaces
- Even breathing and perspiration add moisture to indoor air. Collectively, a family of four can easily generate up to 18 gallons of water a week in the form of humidity inside your home!
Get the Upper Hand on Humidity
Although there are many sources of humidity, you don’t have to let it get the best of your home’s interior. Fight back with these simple steps:
- Confirm that your humidifier is working correctly. Turn it down as the weather becomes colder (this may require shutting off the water supply to your furnace humidifier). This single step often fixes the problem.
- Use proper ventilation. Install exhaust fans to remove excess moisture from bathrooms and kitchens. Always vent these fans directly to the outside of your home. Do not exhaust air into the attic. Clean fan blades and grills annually for maximum performance.
- Check for moisture in the basement. Possible solutions include re-grading around the house, installing exterior insulation on the foundation wall or installing a footing drainage system and sump pump if needed.
- Don’t block or deflect warm air registers.
- Use a dehumidifier. They are capable of lowering the relative humidity to 50 or 60% within your home.
- Be sure to properly vent attics and crawl spaces.
- Don’t store firewood inside. It releases excess moisture over time.
- Install a fresh intake if you have a forced air furnace to make sure your home is properly ventilated.
- As a temporary solution, you may want to try opening your windows a little each day to allow the exchange of colder, drier air with warmer more humid air.
It’s perfectly natural for condensation to appear on your windows, especially on new, high quality replacement windows whose seals work much better at sealing your home. As long as you understand where the excess moisture in your home is coming from, you can take steps to combat it and ensure that your home is as beautiful and comfortable as it can be.